The roots of the tango may explain why it can be used today to ease depression. You know the rhythm. You may have used a common phrase, “It takes two to tango”. You may find it romantic and lovely. But, that’s far from the roots of the Tango. Here are 5 facts about the tango and its success in relieving stress and depression.
- The tango was born out of loneliness. While we think of dance as a celebration of life and an expression of joy, the roots of the tango are quite the opposite. The tango was born in the later 1800s and early 1900s in Argentina during a massive immigration. Most immigrants were single men, hoping to make enough money to return home or bring their families to them. The tango was born from the sense of longing and loss, combining African influences with Argentinian milonga music (sort of a fast-paced polka).
- The tango reflects many emotions. It expresses vulnerability. As you dance, you feel the warmth of an embrace. The tango is raw, but infectious. It is deep and sincere. While it was adopted by the highest levels of society eventually, it never lost its soul – an expression of raw emotion.
- The tango is a shelter from sorrow. That was its beginning and it still seems to work today. The journal of Complementary Therapies in Medicine reported on a study that involved 100 men and women. They ranged in age from as young as 18 to as old as 80, but what they had in common was self-reported stress, anxiety and depression. They were randomly put in three groups – those who would dance the tango, those who take part in mindful meditation and some who did both. The results were amazing. While, both the tango and meditation groups reported lower levels of depression only the tango group reported less stress and anxiety!
- Dancing the tango has lasting good results! In another study, 20 participants took 8, 90-minute lessons over a two week period while another 21 were put on waiting list for tango classes. At the end of the two weeks, those who had danced the tango showed significant clinical improvement; those who didn’t dance were either stable or worse. Best of all, one month later, the tango group still reported reduced stress, anxiety and depression.
- What the tango does for you! If just two weeks can create significant improvements in mood, you may be asking how. Factors that have been noted include that the tango helps dancers to focus on the present. It requires a strong connection with the dancing partner and encourages improvisation. It improves balance and boosts self-esteem. Doesn’t that make you want to get up and tango?
You don’t have to be depressed or anxious to love to tango. You just have to want to express yourself in a beautiful way – and, then, reap the benefits! If you’ve never tangoed, come to the Fred Astaire Dance Center in Paradise Valley and let us help you dance your way to a happier, healthier you!