Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Theory of Relativity and Tango, part 2

Note:  This is Part 2 on a reflection -- if Einstein had danced tango, his Theory of Relativity would have been substantially changed.

News Flash:  Scientists to Study Slowing Time at Milongas

With all of the interest in time being "money," one should expect time, as non-renewable resource, to be researched at milongas by teams of the best scientists in the world.  Under the microscope of a meditative mind, time shows its plasticity both in quantum physics and metaphysics.  One would think that the plasticity of time should inspire some scientific exploration into slowing it down.*

If not scientists, then we tangueros and tangueras must do it!

This has become my new goal in tango:  Find where time slows down even if the dance is a milonga or a fast tango.  Many tangueros and tangueras are experiencing time slowing, but the negative frame of "time goes fast when you are having fun" may hide the phenomenon from many tangueros.  Here are things to look for.
  • A sense of being so fully in the moment that time seems to stop or feel as if it is in slow motion.
  • The feeling as if the music led everything that happened and both responded in an equal way.
  • A blurring of anyone else in the room and only one's partner is there.
  • Intensity of information transfer, as if one knows about one's partners life, their day, their triumphs and struggles--  all through the walking embrace.
  • A sense that through movement/music/embrace the brain is organizing information clutter, allowing the information overflow to be managed in nice folders.  [When this happens at a deeper level with trauma or critical stress events, it will feel as if centuries have passed in a single tanda.]
Einstein's steps for Slowing Down Time
Other than going at the speed of light for a period of time
  • Meditate in the walking embrace regularly. Imagine that you and others are sharing a walking-meditation Zen labyrinth.  Other couples are an active part of an amazing, moving, biological maze.  Dance simply, meditatively.
  • Practice mindfulness while in the walking embrace.  Mindfulness is being fully present with your partner and yourself.  Watching the mirror, noticing who just came in the door, or who will be your next partner are distractions that too often take us out of mindfulness.  Talking-while-dancing evaporates mindfulness.  Dancing in silence is a basic tenant of Argentine tango etiquette for a good reason.  Tango is a walking -- not a talking -- meditation for two while others are silent!  However, the most disruptive moment to mindfulness may be a concerned with how we might look to others who might be watching.  Doing so is not "unenlightened" or "wrong."  It is just not tango on a path of mindfulness.  "Sing as if no one can hear you; dance as if no one is watching" -- either to applaud you or criticize you.  Not an easy task.  The best performers get into this timeless mental space in all the performing arts.
  • Find freedom from an outside locus of control.  Performance anxiety intrudes in on one's sense of timelessness.  Chan Park, in his book Tango Zen  suggests simplicity in our dance, which he calls, a "walking meditation for two."  Great book. Simplicity needs to be an agreement of what you are doing.  Many men feel they need to take the woman on an exciting ride.  And although this is something that is fun, it is also a trap if we do it all the time.  Conversely, some women promote tango-is-a-fun-ride by believing that a great dance all happened only "because he led it."  Both of these points of view are about the "locus of control" for one's experience being outside of oneself.  (Please read the article "The End of Leading is Near," for a fuller description of the woman being active in her role, which is NOT "following.")  The balance of male/female roles disassembles the misconception of locus of control being the man.
I wish you many centuries on the dance floor during your next milonga.

*A philosophical note:  Timelessness is the real issue here, but the human expression always returns to everyday life; so time seems to have been only altered, slowed down from a human perspective.  While you are in this space of timelessness, however, note that the compás of the music is actually "time within timelessness":  An interesting paradox.


  1. You may be interested in a related article I wrote a few years back. It ends up where you have started, with time slowing down.



    El escritor

  2. @ Hola Escritor... ¡Me gustó mucho tu artículo! That is really so funny. I recommend the link to my readers. For those who read the article, be sure to go to the last paragraph, which touches on timelessness.


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