Why do I dance?

I have not felt like writing to this blog for a long time. My latest writings were rather cryptic, because I tried to write about subjects that I felt were taboos. I was not happy about the results, so I came to a conclusion that it was impossible to talk about the important things.

But today I felt like writing. I have had some break from tango for quite some time, and I feel like the distance has given me some new insight.

For any serious person on the quest of learning tango the same question arises now and then. Why do I dance?

Of course there are the outer reasons. To socialize, to fill up free time, have fun, to feed the addiction. But there are easier ways to reach all these. Tango can be very frustrating. So why tango? Why not for example golf which I already tried? Or some of the other dozen hobbies?

I have come to see that I am seeking for those rare moments in the dance when I can sense something out of this world. It is something I had never felt before I started dancing tango. This means these are experiences that some people may never have a chance to experience in their whole lifetime. This thought makes me sad.

When this magical moment happens, movement becomes light, we are creating interesting improvisation to the music with my partner, being playful. I feel like it is no longer me who is dancing — rather there is some kind of creative force outside of us which is going through as and creating the dance.

This special magical moment I have called “the connection”. I have come to a conclusion that maybe this name is not so appropriate, as the name has been appropriated by some people who use this word to talk about an quite different kind of experience.

All this above sounds either mystical — or if you are more scientifically inclined —  bullshit. But I can assure that it is really neither. I have been blessed and these magic experiences have become more common. Actually they now have happened during most nights when I have danced. I take the prevalence of these experiences as a sign that the path I am on is going towards the right direction, and this gives me motivation to talk about them.

So now that I have had time to gather plenty of these magical experiences, maybe some reflection in form of this blog entry is now appropriate. At least I have observed there seem to be certain circumstance that make these magical moments more probable. Perhaps I can also elaborate a little bit of the glimpses of some of the underlying mechanisms under these magic experiences.

What I am describing here is a sensation, and it is impossible to express sensations to somebody who does not have the same experience. How do you explain the taste of strawberry to somebody who has never tasted it?

The first problem when discussing these experiences is that you will be reading this blog entry with your rational mind, which likes to analyze and categorize things based on things it already knows. When the rational mind meets things it does not know, it bends the story as much as is necessary so it can be understood in terms of experiences the person already has. This is called cognitive dissonance and it is Psychology 101.

For example, when there are some tough disagreements, we can see if some of the confusion is created by people using a same word to describe very different experiences. If this is so, then the easiest explanation is that maybe one party has felt the need to use the word to describe an experience they have, perhaps hide from themselves that there exists an experience they have never had. But as a consequence they create all kinds of trouble, not least to themselves. Actually by these rationalizations they make it almost impossible for themselves to have this kind of experience.

Like I said above, it seems that people are using the word “connection” to describe two very different kind of experiences. I call these kinesthetic connection and emotional connection.

I used to think that kinesthetic connection is a prerequisite for the emotional connection. As the same kind of experiences can be felt outside of embrace too, I no longer think so. However, it also seems that not everybody in tango has experienced these magical moments, because there seem to be a need to use the word connection in kinesthetic sense when people are talking about it in the emotional sense.

What authority do I have to talk about these experiences? I have had plenty of experience of festivals, marathons, encuentros, Buenos Aires etc. But anybody who knows me in real life knows I am not a tango superstar, and not even an argentinian. I actually think that any authority I have on the subject comes from my weaknesses. I have started with so little ability to dance, so I have had to learn everything the hard way, to really understand things.

So, don’t take my word. I don’t want to convince anybody. I just ask you to keep an open mind. You will meet lots of people saying what I write is bullshit. However, if you are later blessed with the experiences I describe here, then you will know for yourself what is true.

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About Mikko

A man hopelessly bitten by the argentine tango bug.
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