Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Tanda: Your life on fast-forward

The tanda is your life on fast-forward.

The tanda (a set of four songs at a milonga) poetically represents stages of your entire adult life with your partner.  But pay attention!  Your life on Fast-Forward finishes in about 15 minutes.  It goes something like this:

  • In life a common external event brings a couple together.  In life it may be the same country, town, school, neighborhood.
    In tango it is the milonga.
  • In life a second event moves you even closer or something that emotionally moves you both.  Perhaps it is a class that interests you both.  In life this is being in the right place and the right time, a sparking of one of countless important coincidences in the Universe every millisecond.
    In tango, it is the music that leads people together, to connect, to move in tandem, to stop simultaneously four times.
  • In life your adulthood begins when you have full autonomy to choose.
    At the milonga this volition is when you enter into a tanda because of a connection of the eyes. You assent to be with another person without a word being spoken.
  • In life you continue with many adjustments to your partner's uniqueness--how you fit together physically, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually.
    At the milonga you embrace your partner, and if you take your time, much can be accomplished only in the embrace:

    >> You notice how your partner harmonizes with you without having taken a step together.

    >> You adjust to who they are physically (soma) in the embrace.

    >> You sense that partner melts into you, and feel an emotional connection (psyche).

    >> You listen and perhaps you can sense by your partner's embrace how your partner is moved by the music, their acceptance or rejection of shared-but-separate roles of Yin and Yang, Male and Female, the harmony of roles, even your partner's skill level.  This is an intellectual (nous) connection.

    >> You may even notice that your partner breathes with you. Perhaps, then, you may share a spiritual (pneuma) connection, predicting "chemistry," shared mood, shared reflexes, playfulness, and much, much more.  (The word for "spirit," "breath" and "wind" in Greek is pneuma.)
  • In life you continue to mature and adjust to your partner in the steps you take through life. When your partner enters graduate school, do you grow with your partner, or go in a different direction?  Does your partner allow you to influence him or her?  Do they take their time with you or seem to rush into what they want or impose who they are?
    At the milonga you take your first step together, and with each step you will know if they honor you or are just using you--nothing different than in life, right?
  • In life at some time, there will be an end of one experience, a pause, and a new start for partners.  Here is a life example that parallels a tanda's experience:
    >>(1) University graduation, a pause to find a job, a new beginning in a new city.
    >>(2) Children are born, a pause to adjust roles, and then balance as well as you can to your partner, job and children.
    >>(3) For two decades you embrace your children, nurturing them. You have helped them become independent, and then suddenly there is nearly an unexpected, significant emotional pause, as they leave your embrace.  You and your partner readjust to each other in a new and wonderfully deep way.  It's a totally new start as partners.
    >>(4)  You have retired, your children now must loosen their embrace of you, as you some years ago did with your parents when they had passed away.  In this fourth phase, you and your partner have a life-long connection.  It feels as if a century has passed and all the while it feels like a moment ago. Your choice now to put your life together and pass away, either grabbing on and fearful of death, or continuing honorably as an example to all those who will soon follow you to their own end.  Hopefully you planned an honorable death.
    Also at the milonga, we have four endings, four pauses, and four new beginnings.  Notice how you end together, how you take the pause together, how you say nothing but stay very tightly connected or how you see more of their countenance, or how the speak poetically or prosaically.  At the milonga, this ending, pause, new beginning, is experienced 4 times.  You linger for a moment and return to the seating area together before parting.  That is a noble end.
The tanda was your life on fast-forward. 

How will it change your navigation through life as you leave the milonga? Did the tanda prepare (or predict) how you are or will be; how you will transition and adjust through life; how you will fully expect your death and therefore prepare for a nobler one? 

The tanda is a short poem instead of a 5-kilo novel.  It is your life on fast-forward, but the tanda may not mean anything at all to you or others! That is, if it was just another tanda, just four dances, just another partner of many, just a dance with no obligations.  

If we cannot be obligated for 15 minutes to our partner and fully present with ourselves, chances are we cannot be obligated or self-aware for longer periods in our lives.

Post Script:  I almost forgot to tell you!  The great thing about a tanda is that unlike life, the tanda also has a rewind button.  So take your knowledge of your last "life" and transfer this wisdom into the next tanda.  We'll meet in the next life, okay?  Press the button below.


  1. Thanks for yet another enjoyable post.

    There's nothing like the experience of dancing with someone who is dedicating themselves to you for the tanda. When you feel that - usually in the first few moments - then it's easy to reciprocate. That's entrega.

  2. What first brought any of us to "Tango"? I was captivated by the haunting quality of the music, it still moves me to the point of "Joy" and sometimes "Tears".
    I just am not convinced that the "Tanda" is "Life on Fast Forward", there are times that I'd like to dance with a particular partner to a particular piece of music, but if the music changes due to a particular DJ's taste, and they switch from say something melodic, which I love, like Roberto Chanel singing "Farol" with Pugliese's Orchestra to one of the more "staccato" Pugliese instrumental pieces, which are for me a little too dramatic for my taste, should I continue to dance through the Tanda unhappily, or finish the selection and say "Thanks", sometimes I find myself unhappily confused by "Tango " conventions and the "Tanda", especially when DJ's try and try to find even more obscure versions of various musical selections.


Please leave a comment with four options:
(1) Here on the blog.
(2 & 3) On the links given above for Facebook/Google+ links.
(4) Comment via email at, which with your permission, I can paste into comments.