Order Neil Peterson's
Embracing the Edge
on Amazon today.

Or buy it at the Edge Foundation. All profits from the sale of the book go to support the mission of the Edge Foundation.

View Neil's latest traveling blogs





Neil Peterson is an affiliate member of the National Speakers Association and frequently speaks to organizations on a variety of topics. Learn more

You may contact Neil about speaking engagements at:
(206) 910-7515

The holiday period always puts me in the mood for dancing.  Ever since I saw the movie Shall We Dance starring Richard Gere, Jennifer Lopes and Susan Sarandon a number of years ago, I been interested in dancing.  In fact, I enjoy it enough to serve as a dance host passenger cruise ships.  One of my favorites is the Argentine tango.  If I were to select one dance as a metaphor for life, it would be the tango.

The tango is actually a musical genre and its various forms originated in the lower-class districts of Buenos Aries in the late nineteenth century. According to the Wikipedia, the word Tango seems to have first been used in connection with the dance in the 1890s.  It was initially spread via theaters and street barrel organs from the suburbs of Buenos Aries to the working-class slums, then populated with hundreds of thousands of European immigrants, primarily Italians, Spanish and French.  A detailed and compelling history of the Argentine tango can be found on Argentina-tango.com.

The appeal of the tango lies in its drama, sensuality and the seeming total absorption of the dancers into the dance.  There are many styles of tango practiced today including:

  • Tango Argentino
  • Tango Oriental (uruguayo)
  • Tango Canyengue
  • Tango Liso
  • Tango Salon
  • Tango Orillero
  • Tango Milonguero (Tango Apilado)
  • Tango Nuevo
  • Show Tango (also known as Fantasia)
  • Ballroom Tango
  • Finnish Tango

Another thing I like about the tango is that the basic steps are very straightforward to learn and you can improvise to many styles of music.

Hollywood has long had an infatuation with the tango, starting with Rudolf Valentino’s depiction of the dance in his film The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1926)..  The film superstar played a gaucho (Argentine Cowboy) and performed the tango wearing wide trousers and leather chaps, while holding a carnation in his mouth and a whip in his hand.  Below are three more examples of the tango in the world of entertainment

First of course, there is the memorable scene in Shall We Dance where estate lawyer Richard Gere gets instruction in the tango from his beautiful instructor, Jennifer Lopes (“Don’t say anything; don’t think; don’t do anything you don’t feel!” she orders him).

Second is a scene from Take the Lead where some young teen rappers get a lesson in the seductive power of the tango.

Finally, is an example that shows off the playfulness of the tango as well in the French show, Tango-Pasion.

The tango, at its best, displays all of the emotional richness we seek in life.  Everyone should spend some time getting to know this dance and allow themselves to fall under its hypnotic spell and be swept around in its seductive embrace.