Ask Arlene….Sexual Frisson for a Tango Connection?

Here is something to ponder over the weekend!  Would really like to hear your take on this.

From Wildcard:

Arlene I am wondering

For the best tango connection does it have to induce an element of sexual frisson?

Dear Wildcard,

I was wondering when someone would bring this up.  Are you a man by any chance?

Have you had a look at the type of people available at a Milonga?  If you are a man, then there are plenty of lovely ladies that might provide that stimulus for you if that is what you are looking for.  Unfortunately for us ladies, it is a different story altogether.

Frankly, I am not attracted in that way to anyone at a Milonga.  Ask my friends, they will tell you.  I go to dance, that’s it.  I have danced with very handsome and fit men and very ordinary men.  I have had great connections from people that were totally unexpected.

We are all sexual beings.  We take that part of us wherever we go.  The fact that many of us may be on our own for some reason, the feel of another body next to our own, the scent of the other, and the music, it all makes for a heady mix sometimes.  The trick is to get beyond the physical and tap into the emotional feeling of the music.  I would presume that is easier for women than for men.  I may be wrong and I would think it would depend on the reason why one is dancing in the first place.

For me, the best Tango connection is when my dance partner and I are both in tune with each other and the music.  It is always about the music and the feeling behind it.  My partner is a merely a catalyst to help me reach that place where I am in another space and time with the music.  Hopefully, I do the same for my partner.  I also have some lovely connections where I don’t reach that place, but I enjoy the dances none the less.  In my best dances and with all the people that I regularly dance with, the feeling that comes through for me the most is being cared for.

Having a wonderful dance moment can induce feelings of euphoria and joy.  Those feelings can help you appreciate your dance partner more and see them in a different light.  You see the person inside because you shared a wonderful moment and felt the same thing.  It is a reflection of you mirrored in them.

I have no doubt that a wonderful dance can bring sexual feelings to the surface if one has truly let themselves go into the music.  The combination of music and dance has been known to do that and is why there have been taboos and rituals associated with dance.

Is it necessary for that Tango connection?  Nah!

18 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Deby
    Mar 13, 2009 @ 11:28:13

    One of the greatest pair of dancers – He was gay, she was not. Their passion on the dance floor was electric. No you do not need sex.

  2. La Tanguera
    Mar 13, 2009 @ 11:57:49

    Hi Arlene, I think you’ve put it very well – “the man is merely a catalyst”. I have been trying to explain this “tango connection” to my real-life partner but he always seemed a bit negative and doubtful – it took me a while to realise that this question “is it sexual?” was at the back of his mind making him suspicious! For me the answer is no. It is far from sexual. In fact, the stronger the connection, the less it is about the man at all. It sounds counterintuitive as it is hard to find someone with whom this happens. But for me, once I’ve found him and established the connection, then he just melts away as we both become part of the music – and to me that is what tango is all about, it’s that feeling of being totally immersed in the music.

    It’s hard putting it into words and I’m sure every person will experience it differently. It would be interesting to hear a male viewpoint on this! Perhaps it is a question also of finding what you’re looking for. But I also wanted to ask if anyone has any tips on how to look for that connection, both for leaders and followers? And what are the deciding factors? Is it the embrace? The leader’s musicality?

  3. Steve Morrall
    Mar 13, 2009 @ 15:42:11

    As an art form, argentine tango creates the unity of two beings that most of us have only experienced in more intimate activities and so we try to emulate connection in the dance by using the same body-language.

    But this is all behavioral smoke and mirrors. It is so easy for novice dancers to be taken in by the illusion of connection and passion, to see it as something sexual and then try and recreate it in the embrace by what looks and feels lascivious.

    Very occasionally, as a teacher and event organisor, I am prompted to ask a dancer to moderate their behaviour, and they are invariably mortified to learn that it has been perceived as anything but an attempt to ‘connect’ to their partner in the dance.

    Connection in tango cannot be manufactured. It is an elusive, ethereal state that sometimes happens when you are least expecting it. It is a state of mind, body and spirit that occurs when a whole list of variables are in place. For me, these include mental focus, the music, the prevailing floor-craft and the ability, skill and trust of both dancers to be able to dance their dance through the feeling of their partner’s body as it moves on the floor.

    It is a fickle state. Having experienced it once with a particular partner by no means guarantees that it will happen again the next time you dance with them.

    The more you try to create connection, the more elusive it becomes, so stay relaxed, attentive and make your partner feel like they are the centre of your universe in every step.

    Steve Morrall
    Tango UK

  4. Tango totty
    Mar 14, 2009 @ 00:00:02

    Arlene and Deby

    If there is no sexual frisson in a true tango connection then how come that plain or old tango dancers can turn from Tango frogs to Tango Princes within the blink of a tanda? And how come you really can’t wait to dance with them the next time? And how come there are those times when they turn back into frogs? They may dance just as well as last time but the moment has gone – like a frisson it’s a passing fancy and a sexual trick to make you fall in love with the dance before your intellect can switch on!! Its great – its just like being a teenager again. Tango Rocks!!!

  5. Voice of Reason
    Mar 14, 2009 @ 00:14:05

    Hey wildchild
    The truth is no one really knows. If you want frisson just go on the tube at rush hour. Tango connection is intimate and personal to each dancer. I would be very surprised if someone out there did not feel it as a sexual experience. But we can’t allow this to become an accepted view or my wife would not let me out again. Lets not be too puritanical about it. Lets just pretend its a state of mind and the freedom of the human spirit being realised. But yes its hard to keep the spirit pure when you know deep down that you are letting it off the leash willingly.

    Peace Out!

  6. Wildcard
    Mar 14, 2009 @ 14:17:37

    I think when I said sexual frisson this was really a red herring – I didnt mean that a connection was something as basic as a pure sexual thrill. Its a lot more subtle and complex than that

    It seems that there are many different levels of tango connection and maybe people have different capacities for intensity of feeling.

    But I maintain that for the most intense connection the dance is not simply about connecting well to a partner and the music but its an all inclusive sensual experience and therefore one which definitely includes a sexual element! The sexuality however is diffused and not localised.

  7. sensualpersona
    Mar 14, 2009 @ 15:55:11

    Very interesting discussion. I hardly dare to share my latest experience, since it is so personal and at the same so erotic, sensual and sexual. Still learning how to express myself in every part of my life, including the tango! I will keep checking this blog for more… Thanks for sharing

  8. Mr Walker
    Mar 15, 2009 @ 22:21:40

    Tango is a truth……And the way leaders/ followers dance tells alot about them.And this question bothered me….I asked myself is this feeling a secret?…

    Go to any milonga in london and you will be hard pressed to see many people trying to find this tango feeling in the way we are commenting on….

    Thank you Arlene and La Tanguera for your beautiful discriptions.

    La Tanguera: It would be interesting to hear a male viewpoint on this.

    I can only speak for myself on this. i find it extremely hard to focus completely on the dance so if a connection happens it’s not as deep as the followers…In the london milonga’s i attend there are many dancing styles being danced and some do not lend themselves to packed dance floors which means as a leader i dance for the music then my partner then the room (and thats the tricky part) and myself last…..i always hope that my partner felt the deep love i feel for the music and enjoyed their dance with me even though there was no connection but feels that it might be possible another time….

  9. Voice of Reason
    Mar 16, 2009 @ 21:09:10

    Mr Walker
    You are right it is difficult to blend in the various styles of Tango that are practised in London, maintain the safety of you and your partner and find a connection.
    I think many people are like you in so far as what they prioritise their dancing. In a crowded milonga of mixed ability dancers, it is dangerous to always dance with carefree abandon to the music. There is one bloke I see who dances with his eyes shut for most of the time. He looks focused on getting some sort of connection- or at least the sexual frisson that the original post aimed at questioning. I think he must be part dolphin either that or he has never had a lesson on floorcraft. Many of the so called “better ” dancers are guilty of hogging the dancefloor.
    In Britain we have grown up on rules and taking our turn and everyone having fairplay. We shroud the tango in an etiquette that helps us convince ourselves that it is a gentile dance. The manners off the floor are always better than those on. So while you are deep in the moment there is some tosser who will come sweeping through, driving their partner like a Porsche on crack. They will beat you to the space you had carefully managed to create by turning their partner into a voleo from the left hand side. As you move to protect your partner the move you planned is destroyed and you need to adjust. Hopefully you do not interupt your partners flow and simply pray that the hopskipping ,arse kicking smug arrogant wa*ker gets his that night. He won’t, he simply moves on at pace ignoring all others as he continues with his all too common style of tango. I like to think of it as Nuevo-extreme or “f*ck you tango”. It is not compatable with a milonga where more than ten couples are dancing. Even here its dodgy.
    The room should always dictate what you can do.


  10. sensualpersona
    Mar 18, 2009 @ 12:56:57

    I think many people will recognise the description of a ‘tosser’ “driving their partner like a Porsche…” where the gentleness and tenderness on a crowded floor is rudely interrupted by such tosser(s).

  11. Nick
    Mar 18, 2009 @ 20:59:47

    I am not sure that I understood well what wildcard meant with “sexual frisson”. However, tango is intrinsically linked to erotism. The dance is very sensual and essentially it is the metaphor of the courtship. The moves are very erotic, the lustrada for instance is when the woman intrigue the man. The music itself is very sensual and the lyrics of several songs talk about love. And finally how people dress during the performance, or also to some formal milongas, especially women, reflects this feature of the dance. That fact that tango is erotic cannot be denyed. And finally, the social dancing was born as an occasion where men and women could meet. Nowadays might be different because there are many more occasions to meet people of the other sex, but this is the essential reason why people went dancing. The dance and the environment reflect this. Is there anything strange with that? Not at all!

  12. Mr Walker
    Mar 19, 2009 @ 00:18:59

    “driving their partner like a Porsche…”

    As long as followers eagerly accept dances from these ‘tossers’ . We are doomed to be interrupted on a crowded floor. i have now had the pleasure of attending 2 classes where great pains was taken to explain that social tango is danced for the benefit of all and that you should not tailgate, overtake , or do large stage,fantasia hip nuevo kick your right ear yoga kung fu tango, This rule lasted about 20 seconds then all the people who did not take the lesson but watched decided that they liked the old way better….i would like to see milonga’s charge 1 pound/dollar more and then put a notice at the entrance explaining that persistent offenders will be asked to leave and just refund their entrance fee from the extra pounds/dollars everyone paid…… then we all win….just my 2 cents..

  13. El Chupacabra
    Mar 20, 2009 @ 00:47:36

    If there is no frission, then it would be the same if men led men, and women led women.

    But it is not so.

  14. Johanna
    Mar 20, 2009 @ 16:59:17

    Tango encompasses every emotion, including eroticism and sexuality. The choice is whether we fixate solely on that aspect, an then further, to act upon it.

    For most western cultures, it is a very confounding experience – such excruciating intimacy in such a public setting. Many, many people misinterpret the mystic “connection” as love, and try to take it “off the dance floor”. Most of these “relationships” fail, because the Tango intimacy of the connection is a far more profound, spiritual, and pure experience, governed by some very specific rules and codes. Unlike life 🙂

    This is one of the basic topics in my book.

  15. Wildcard
    Mar 21, 2009 @ 13:41:09

    Could the best tango connection be compared to an experience of tantric sex where you have the sensual experience held in suspension and extended beyond the norm?

  16. Wildcard
    Mar 21, 2009 @ 13:49:18

    PS And will it lead to spiritual enlightenment?

  17. Voice of Reason
    Mar 21, 2009 @ 17:58:52

    Thanks for the advert.
    You give me hope Johanna. That is hope Johanna, oh yes hope Johanna in the words you’ve found.
    Ps. I also had a look at your blog.


  18. tango totty
    Mar 24, 2009 @ 20:09:47

    Different types of connection ?

    The Shock connection – Initial tango connection based on close proximity to the partner – You’ve never had a tango connection and the last time you got this close to someone was with a loving sexual partner. Suddenly this stranger is up close and personal and after the initial shock you realise you LIKE it. You know its wrong but youre enjoying it and youre really surprised.

    The rythmical connection – You realise that in order for the dance to be in any way enjoyable your partner needs to have a basic sense of rythmn and YES you need to be dancing in time to the music. This can generate a pleasurable and satisfying experience per se especially in London where this often seems to be a bit lacking.

    The mechanical connection – This is where both partners can dance well but rather than focusing on the feeling and enjoying the music, the connection is based on the challenge of technique and movement – a bit like going to a practica really, maybe even just a tad nueovoish. This connection can be a bit mechanical akin to mutual masturbation.

    The tangasm – This is the full on connection – when the music, the embrace and the movement of the partner combine to generate a potent intimate feeling of physical and mental ecstasy that you want to continue forever. At that moment you are in love and from that time on you know sex is just a poor substitute for the intimacy and ecstasy you feel at this level.

    Which one have you had ?

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