Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Hierarchy of Tango Needs

How does a tanguero or tanguera define basic survival and beyond?
                      Only if Abraham Maslow had known tangueras!
                      His Hierarchy  would be much different.

Maybe it is different from Abraham Maslow and many others who don't know what tangueras and tangueros know!  Below is the survival list I have learned from tangueras: it includes air, water, food, shelter, and sleep--and much more!  Modern psychology, even with the latest "truth" in empirical psychology, Attachment Theory and it corresponding typical negativity, "Attachment Disorder," really only poke at what it that we all need throughout life.  (See discussion following the poem below.)

Air, what, food, sleep, and so on?  There is more to the basics for those who are true tangueras/tangueros:

The Warrior Tanguera's Survival Kit

It takes a dancer to win the "battle" of learning a few new steps.
It takes a Tanguera to win the "war" of a life-long philosophy of embrace.

It takes a dancer to make dance a sport, to be fit, never out of breath.
It takes a Tanguera to slow down, breathe deeply and purge the toxins of stress from her body.

It takes a dancer to drink and care for her body, hydrate or die.
It takes a Tanguera to use rituals of water, fluid moments, movements,
   stopping to embody every symbol of water to calm a racing mind.

It takes a dancer to find, prepare, and eat her food as energy on the run.
It takes a Tanguera to find the nourishment of the soul by breaking bread with others.

It takes a dancer to be able to grab sleep when she can get it between milongas.
It takes a Tanguera to reset, purify herself from life's hassles and sleep well,
    dancing for a lifetime, not a frenzy-dance for a decade.

It takes a dancer to find shelter in the happy ambiance of one milonga after the other.
It takes a Tanguera to enter into the state of mind of safe shelter
    no matter where she is, because shelter most often a state of mind.

It takes a dancer to stop dancing when a friend has died--a way of respect.
It takes a Tanguera to prepare her soul for the life-long loss of friends, 
    and to keep dancing as a way to mourn in the arms of others who weep too.

You are that tanguera; find who you are.
It is your main task in life, and all die on this mission.
Only a few die nobly; be one of the few.
Your mission is not to LIVE as dancer.
But have LIFE dance your soul.
Be a more than a dancer fighting through life's stress.
Be a Warrior Tanguera, winning her war of peace.

Abraham Maslow's idea of human survival would have been much different had he met a true tanguera.  He then would have know that movement is also a basic need.  (People go crazy if they are not allowed to move.  At least, I do.)  He mentioned sex as a basic survival need.  What tangueras know is that we all need touch or we die.  "Failure to thrive" syndrome leads to death in small children and the elderly, who cannot groom and touch themselves.  We all die without touch and human warmth from others.  Yes, Abraham, I think sex is cool too, and so do many tangueras -- but touch and human warmth is what keeps babies and the rest of us alive.

Both Maslow and current Attachment Disorder theories have not paid attention to the self-actualization that people have made under the worst circumstances, the monastics, ancient and modern gurus, the cross, the insights of the holocaust, through the eyes of Vicktor Frankel, in which people who finally focused on their basic needs soon died, and those who held their life purpose before them had the best chance of surviving.  All of the great religions and our greatest heroes found their highest actualization by being present in their embodiment and psychological center (soul's center).  (Note:  psyche = "soul" in the language from which we stole the term, not "mind.")

What is the Hierarchy of Tango Needs?  What have you learned about your needs from dancing? Try to find in modern theories the basic needs of movement -- rocking for a baby, the elderly woman in her rocking chair, the meditative walk of a monk, the dance of Kung Fu, Tai Chi, the improvisation of tandem the tanguero/tanguera.  How is it that scientists missed this?

Photo Credit for pyramid:


  1. That was exquisite.

    As with any theory, Maslow's Hierarchy is incomplete and can be refuted - especially with the passage of time and gaining of knowledge. But, overall, I think it's pretty accurate. Part of the 'problem' was probably that the scientists were male and their experiences largely kept them removed from the nurturing need and importance of touch - i.e. birthing and raising of children. So, their experience was often just sexual 'intimacy' as Maslow suggests. (And/or more recently - sports). You have to read between the lines I think.

    In regard to your comment about people who have survived and thrived in the face of great adversity, I suspect that they have had the lower aspects of the hierarchy satisfied in their formative years and/or had incredibly resilient spirits regardless of any 'earthly' experience - which is something we don't yet fully understand.


  2. Maraya... your point is very good. The poem is the most important point, and my best way of getting out hard concepts. The intro and notes are just the background of how I came up with the poem. In reality, I have learned a lot about the mistakes of many theories by working with PTSD clients

    Regarding Maslow: I would add that the pyramid was not Maslow's idea. Then if we realize that all things can be working at the same time, we could see that a person deprived in one area is fulfilled in another. Stage theories are by themselves now seen as overly westernized and filled with male bias. The poem says it best.

    Also, you are insightful about about the second part that our childhoods allow or disallow us to be resilient later. But I know of examples of children who have every reason to be psychopaths or mentally ill, but somehow are remarkably spiritual and kind people. We should study these exceptions (as with all science disciplines) to understand why!!


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