Either because we’re still new to the dance or for other personal reasons, we often tango while in a state of fear.

Our limbic systems, also commonly referred to as the “lizard brain,” doesn’t like uncertainty. And as an improvisational dance, tango is full of uncertainties.

Fear is a primal reaction to unpredictable circumstances; it’s our instinct to interpret them as potential dangers much in the way that other animals do. This was useful to our ancient ancestors, when stuff like wild beasts were a very real threat. But in our modern civilization, such beasts aren’t much of a problem. Most live in zoos, and probably won’t pounce on us while we’re waiting in line at the local coffee shop.

And even though our “lizard brain” won’t equate dancing with encountering a python or charging lion, it will still try wreaking havoc on our emotional state as we attempt ochos at a crowded milonga.

And if we surrender to our animal instincts, we’ll wallow in fear for the duration of the tanda. This deprives the prefrontal cortex, or our “more advanced brain,” a chance to process all the fun and beauty that defines tango.

We might not be able to switch off the limbic system, but we can choose whether or not to take it seriously. The “lizard brain’s” alarm bells are almost always overblown, so think twice before you decide to be animal on the dance floor.

falling penguin


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