Wednesday, February 2, 2011

If I die at the Milonga: DNSM Instructions

If you work for a hospital, as I do, you may have heard about DNR instructions (do not resuscitate).  Some people have a written contract to be able to die in peace without so-called "heroic means" being used to continue their lives.

I do not have DNR instructions; however, I do have DNSM 
instructions.  "Do NOT Stop the Milonga" instructions.  

This is what I mean
A milonga DJ regretted continuing a milonga after a dear member of the community fell down and nearly died of a stroke at a milonga.  He regretted that he had "the show go on."  I felt that my friend had done more good than he might know.  I recommended that he not regret for a moment that he continued with the milonga.

I have seen two deaths in two different tango communities and tears come to my eyes when I consider how in both cases the tango community came to the aid and comfort of those most bereaved.  But in both cases, the widower and the widow kept dancing, being held, and weeping on each others' cheeks to the music.

I think those who continued to dance right after a tragic event enables them to process their grief and continue life in a walking embrace. The last funeral I went to was for an 19 year-old boy of a colleague at work.  I had nothing to say to his mother.  I just hugged her and wept.

If I die on the floor of a milonga, this is my desire:  Someone please announce:   

"Mark, has made it clear that he wanted to die dancing.  He has got his wish.  His second wish is that we all continue dancing in celebration of his and our own lives."  

Then a few friends will already know to look in my coat pocket for these words, written on a folded, worn piece of paper:  

"For those who are upset by my sudden, dancing-into-heaven death, you may need to walk this out.  I hope you will hug someone you love and dance with them as if you may never get the chance again.  This is tango and this is life.  Maybe we can all learn about how each tanda is sacred and each soul we dance with, a gift.  And perhaps we can all ponder what it truly means to be in the moment with not only our partner but everyone in our community."

These are my DNSM (Do-Not-Stop-the-Milonga) instructions. 


  1. BEAUTIFUL, Mark...I do know of a man in my spiritual community who loved to dance and my spiritual mother told us that he danced his way into heaven......

  2. @Sara: I am sure he is still dancing! "Angels dance and devils dance. But only angels can dance without stopping." --From the Unknown Tango Theologian

  3. Hi, I began reading your blog recently from Japan. (I used to live in Maryland as a student.) i enjoy dancing and listening to tango. I was impressed with your note on DNSM. Would you mind if I translate and quote it in my diary in a Japanese SNS?

  4. A few years ago, my father passed away a couple weeks after my mother had passed away. I had Tango class and practica on the day he died. The thought of missing class had not crossed my mind because 1) he was already taken to the funeral for preparations 2) I needed the distraction 3) I needed to dance.

    I agree with you, Mark. Don't stop the milonga. If I go on the dancefloor, play a tanda of "Nido Gaucho", "Nada" and "Poema" and a tanda of Milonga in my memory.

  5. I just discovered this blog entry and it moved me to tears. Love you, Mark!


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