최근에 한 외국 땅고 친구가 한국을 다녀갔다. 그는 한국에 여러 번 방문해서 비교적 한국을 잘 아는 친구이다. 여행이 끝나고 그가 말하기를 이곳의 땅고가 어쩐지 퇴보한 것 같다고 했다. 플로어 위에서 춤은 덜 추고…
A friend of mine came to Seoul to dance. He had visited many times before, so he knew us well. Afterwards he said to me the tango here has somehow gone backwards. Now on the dance floor, there is more hugging and less dancing.
I heard what he said, and I thought of a European tango marathon that I went to years ago. That was a true marathon – it ran 24 hours a day, for 3 days straight. There was so much time, we danced at least 3 tandas nonstop with every partner. That’s 40 minutes per person, often more. Many of these 40 minutes, and in truth the whole weekend, felt like one long hug. I can’t say I didn’t enjoy the experience, I did. What’s not to like? It’s like getting high on drugs without having to worry about dealers and side effects.
So I get it. Hugging soothes our soul, in ways that music, soup, or therapy cannot. Look at my cats, they are the most honest animals. They tell me what they want whenever they want it. And what they desire the most, above everything else, including smelly cat food, is for me to touch them. To caress them, to scratch them, to cuddle, and to hug them.
So I understand. It is natural for tango to devolve into hugging with little movement, like those highschool slow dances you see in Hollywood movies. It’s because we all crave human touch. Where else can you get hugs in Korea if not in tango? (Well actually there is one other place – bachata. They even have something call “sensual bachata” now, as if the original bachata is not sensual enough.)
So, is more hugging and less dancing in tango bad? I can see a few dangers.
Above all else, it is terrible for us tango teachers. If all people do is stand and hug, they don’t need to take class from us anymore. I will need to find a new job.
Any danger for anyone else? It is awfully inconvenient for the people who want to move. If on the highway two cars stop, the drivers get out and start hugging each other, I am sure all the other drivers will throw a hissy fit. The more these two people enjoy their soul-soothing hug, the more they are into each other, the more annoyed the rest of us are going to be. In the US they would say “go get a room!”
Anyone else who loses from this? Maybe we will all lose in the long run. What I mean is, we got a good thing going on here in Korea. Everybody wants to come here to dance. I am going to say it, “we are the tango capital of Asia, people.” Why? Because we dance well, and that’s hard to do. People are not going to spend money to fly here just to get hugs. They can do that in their own milonga at home! I am sure some of our neighbors are trying to find ways to supplant us, so let’s not be complacent and mess this up.