Do you ever dream of dances from the past? I do. In this form of platonic tango, I see, in my mind, the dancer and the floor, and my body remembers the physical sensation. It’s happening more often, and, as a result, I have been wondering how other dancers are dealing with the effects of tango cold turkey. I live in a house with family members to hug and cats who love to roll up in my lap, so I mustn’t complain. But my heart goes out to friends and fellow dancers who have to sweat this out in isolation. Six months ago, writing about skin hunger, I had no idea how deeply the recent unpleasantness would hit us. My jokes might have been more subdued.
A Canadian inmate in solitary confinement remembers he continuously fantasized about his skin being touched. He craved for touch so much, that he lay as still as possible in his cell, to let a fly walk over his body. Often there was no fly in his cell, and, he would hate that. I hope you won’t need the fly substitute, but if you do, I hope spring brings some more flies soon. Juan Mann, the Free Hug champion of the world, went around the world hugging people for fifteen years until he retired last year. Did he have a feeling COVID-19 was coming? I had never heard of him until his retirement, but I think he needs to make a come-back after this. Pre-tested for antibodies, of course.
Our milonga has been surfing the same wave in society as Juan, throwing in a free welcome hug since 2010. It was a joke, but we knew that human touch releases oxytocin and cortisol, reduces stress and blood pressure, and creates an emotional balance. I am emphasizing this, so you know how sophisticated we are, behind a façade of camaraderie. Science has shown us that sapiens spend 10-20% of the day grooming each other and poor lab monkeys prefer hugging a cloth to a steel construct holding a bottle of milk. I am sure this is an overly dramatised analogy, and I am not saying that we used to pick little insects from the hair of our visitors. I also do not suggest you fetch a cloth from a drawer (a toy bear will do fine). I am saying that we are not monkeys. There must be a better alternative for homo sapiens.
Me, I am focusing on perfecting my platonic tango. I put on music and imagine my favourite dancers. I visualise every step that I lead and re-live the connection. If I concentrate well, I can actually smell perfume. The emotions evoked by the songs swell up in my chest, I am folding my arms and rubbing the back of my hands. You are thinking: the guy is on drugs, he must be hallucinating. You are wrong. Don’t you notice how flawless and fluent the leg wraps and sacadas are executed, how weightless the voleos fly and how perfectly we connect? As the saying goes: no better sauce than hunger.