Tango and Feminism

Pacia Sallomi, Queremos Bailar, 2008, oil on canvas, 60" x 70"


Although many beginners are necessarily focused on the basic steps, Tango is a dance of invention, of listening, of feeling, of being open.  There is an interdependence in this dance that cannot be achieved if each partner is not also fully in their own center, in their axis. The most complex part of the dance is not learning fancy dance patterns.  It is finding and maintaining connection.  In this way it is a pure expression of the masculine and the feminine principles in balance with each other.

      I began learning to dance Argentine Tango in December 2005. My desire to learn this dance is complicated by my history of dance and my autonomous, independent spirit. Dancing has always been a way for me to be free and I didn't dance with others.  I danced with the music and didn't need or want someone mediating that experience.  Nevertheless, I was drawn to Argentine Tango the way one might be drawn to a spiritual teacher.

To learn Tango, I had to let go of my need to move independently and to do this I had to trust.  I resisted following -- in every way, all my life -- so the dance was not at all natural for me.  At first, when I “gave into” following a man’s lead, I also “gave” him my weight and center. The dance floundered. I felt unstable and unsure and hated when my partner didn’t listen to the music or I could find a hundred more creative things to be doing than what he was choosing at that moment.  Then I went to Buenos Aires.

In Argentina I found the women to be powerful and centered in their dance and I learned from them. I found the men to be responsive to my body in very sensitive ways. I was seduced by the dance to be as fully present in my body as he was in his. I found power in receptivity and I found that the best male partners are listening. I found that my ideas about machismo have been transformed. Having grown up with the various waves of feminism, I now find myself expanding again what it means to be a woman and loving it.

       Pacia Sallomi
       August, 2009