María Carbonetti. Academic & Expressive Arts Therapist.
Photographed for People of Tango in Vancouver BC, 2016.
Tango is different from other dances because of the closeness. The connection we develop through the embrace is unique. You have to be attuned to your partner, through your body. It doesn’t happen through your eyes because you only look at your partner before and after the dance — but not during. It is the gaze of the body.
You are sensing their weight, the feel of their skin, the intensity of their embrace, the tone of their muscles, the way they squeeze your hands, the sliding of our bodies within each other’s embrace, the tension in their back, their pulse.
Proximity is very important in tango. You are negotiating your space from very close, and it is a space that is changing all the time.
How many people negotiate their space like that in real life? There are people who don’t have a romantic partner, or they have a partner only occasionally. But in the milonga, they are negotiating that space almost as if they were in an intimate setting. It is so close.
And how much of that closeness that one has in the embrace in the milonga is public in real life? If I embrace my husband lovingly, romantically, erotically, it is at home, rarely in public. But in a milonga we all embrace each other like that for hours on end, in a public place.
I find it absolutely fascinating.