Living Between the Tango Beats

Dave Donatiu

Since I returned from SFTX (San Francisco Tango Exchange) where I became unplugged from the Tango Matrix, my experience of Tango has altered.  I can sum up my experiences as “living between the Tango beats.”  Years ago I became aware of how much exists between the beats in Tango music.  Now I sense that I just entered the space between the beats of Life.  Here is some of what has altered.

I used to dance mostly two Tandas with a woman, now usually one.  I have chosen to dance with women that I have not danced with in a long time.  I do not enjoy some woman as much as I used to.  I am more conscious of the unconscious behaviors of people working to get dances, relate, learn and love.  I love Tango music even more.  I am more aware as an observer of my own dancing.  I do not compromise my posture and balance for any woman anymore.

I do not enjoy some things I used to enjoy in my Tango vocabulary or musicality choices.  I am much less interested in dancing, yet am dancing more.  I am dancing with more less skilled dancers, and aware how some of the skilled dancers just don’t interest me as much for they don’t follow as I thought.  I have noticed how many follows are not truly following, but just recognizing patterns and performing them.  However, the less skilled follows actually follow more for they do not know what to expect so they are listening.

And as in Tango, as in Life – as I have become unplugged, I am exploring how I want to make my way in the world.  My view has been altered, and therefore I need to walk a different path.  Here is a story that exemplifies some of my more common experiences these days.

On my way down to Denver on last Tuesday, I called a friend to say hi.  He asked me where I was, and upon telling him I was 30 minutes from a destination in Lakewood, he replied that he was a quarter mile away from my destination, waiting for people to join him for lunch.  He invited me to join him.  I happened to be on my way to a business appointment, but decided to be 45 minutes early to work on Tango DJ’ing.  So I conveniently had the extra time and joined him.

What wonderful timing – synchronicity at work.  This man happens to be finishing a book, which imparts life wisdom and great how-to’s on safety from a collection of stories during his important work in government agencies – VERY important work.  Because of his work, we are all safer when we fly in airplanes.  I admire this friend in no small way.  Not only is he brilliant, artistic, creative, funny and a good man, he MAKES A DIFFERENCE in peoples’ lives.

I used to want to make a big difference.  I volunteered a good amount of time in noble pursuits such as initiating men into manhood through the Mankind Project, or staffing for LGAT’s (large group awareness trainings) such as Landmark Education Corp. or fun pursuits such as leading trips for a large ski club in Madison, Wisconsin – Hoofers.

I guess I made a difference here and there.  As a therapist I know I made a difference.  However, I let my clients go for most of them did not do their homework.  They really did not take action to make their lives better, but just wanted me to make things better for them.  Why did I bother?  5-10% of my clients actually did their homework.  Perhaps everything I did was just for the 5-10%.

Why am I even writing on this subject of making a difference?  In the Tango Matrix I am staring at foundational beliefs of how I think the Universe works.  I call this an ontological cosmology.  So I am experiencing a clash of cosmologies where I have a choice of different cosmologies, but the choice I want to make is radical.  Really radical.  I will make different life choices depending on the cosmology I choose.

Ulysses left me with these words, “Breath more between the beats.  Follow your desire.  Allow your calling to call. You will collide with treasures waiting for you at one of your next turns…”

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The Author

Dave Donatiu



  1. Heather

    Being a therapist sounds a lot like being a teacher. I also do it for the 5-10% of people who do their homework. 🙂

    I hear you on the not compromising posture or balance thing. Unfortunately, it makes following really difficult with certain leads that would otherwise be okay dances if I *did* compromise. Live and learn, I suppose.

  2. Ariel

    Hey, funny thing, I’ve noticed some simular things as well, one that stands out the most it following, I’ve found, I don’t follow and engage in following as much as did starting out, I feel I’ve closed off more. I have to focus more in order to engage in ‘following’ vs. patterned steps, though I feel the decree of this varies on the lead I’m with. 🙂

  3. Leonard Krause

    Dave, Aways wonderful to read your insights.

    I think from my perspective, it all of this boils down to how attached you are to the outcome–whether as a therapist or in dancer.

    To my knowledge, tango one of the few endeavors in life that is done collaboratively with strangers on a highly intimate basis; yet where the reason for doing the activity is completely unique to the individual. Unlike other similar endeavors which have ways to measure outcomes, none of this exists in tango. Thus, what we think and feel about the people we dance with–or don’t dance with– (unless there is explicit communication) is a total projection on our part. This is what makes tango such a mind-trip.

    Additionally, the more I dance, the more I realize that the distinction between lead and follow gets blurred. I find the more experience I gather as a lead, the more I realize that I invite the follow to move; she moves, and I follow the follow.

    That said, I find it really fun to dance with new or inexperienced follows. It’s like taking a girl for a ride on a Harley. You throw her on the back, crank up the speed; and she holds on for dear life. It’s an adrenalin rush all around.

  4. Jan Kirk

    Interesting. Thanks for sharing. I want ot know more about Tango Matrix. Seems it is more than a group of excellent tango dancers gathering to share moves.
    Perhaps I’ll see you tonght at Pearl St Studios.

  5. Ilona Glinarsky

    Hello Dave,
    I found your insights very authentic, open and REFRESHING. I have a background in Spiritual Psychology and Human Development and having acquired many powerful skills of self-observation and awareness, I find Tango to be another very powerful tool or a DOORWAY into our own “stuff”.
    I use my abilities to see through my own and other’s stuff and apply Tango as a metaphor for Life and Love.
    Keep doing great work that you do…!!!


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