This time of the year Tango dancers become aware of the existence of other people who, curiously enough are not Tango dancers. These are coworkers, friends or family members who, full of the spirit of the holiday season want to share the joy and the celebration of another year coming to an end.
It is a period of adjustment for those who have been dancing Tango every opportunity they had. Being at parties where the topics of conversation are just about anything people like to talk about, and the music tends to focus on chestnuts roasting on an open fire or silent nights of peace and love, could be unsettling for Tango dancers who describe their pastime with words such as obsession, passion and addiction.
Maybe it is a sign of the times we live in, the by-product of a society where stress and isolation are dealt with with pills and alcohol, or in some cases with embracing an activity such as Tango dancing the way others join a wide variety of cults. In any case, the possibilities that Tango dancing offers, open the doors for a mixed lot of individuals with very little in common but the desire to be Tango dancers.
It is a miracle that so diverse of a culture as our American society is in terms of balancing materialistic and spiritual values, that a selected minority of the population have chosen to adopt the way of life of a segment of a foreign culture as a pastime of choice, and a determining force to achieve growth and universality. It is amazing that in a culture used to opening up a conversation inquiring not who you are but what you do, some are willing to grasp the fact that Tango dancing is what we do and who we are.
There is an aspect closely associated with Tango dancing that is still difficult to fit into the American culture, prone as it is to competition and individual achievement which at times dangerously borders jealousy and envy. We call it ‘amistad’ which is a concept of friendship where being called an ‘amigo’ is a precious commodity involving love and respect for each other.
Silly as it may come across, in the Argentine social culture, mothers are forever brides and fathers more than fathers are friends. The young are protected and the old are respected. Friendships aren’t spoiled by success or failure, wealth or poverty, good times or bad times. Friends rejoice when they make progress on the dance floor. Friends kid around as they compete to outdo each other on the art of firuletes. They feel loved and appreciated when trading jokes about each other’s whims and mannerisms.
Friends, Tango dancers or not, are the ones who once a year around this time, remind us to enjoy and celebrate the accomplishment of having lived another year, and having danced another Tango.