Skin Hunger

The other day I listened to some scientists on the radio. They were discussing a newly identified phenomenon called ‘skin hunger’. In Dutch, it nicely alliterates to ‘Huidhonger’. This discussion immediately sparked the interest of the milonga organiser inside me : knowing this, can we provide a better experience to tango dancers visiting our weekly party? As many of you know, our milonga offers the finest free hugs of Amsterdam, on top of a ridiculously low entrance price. Some of you may have been laughing sarcastically about that free hug. But after this, you may laugh a little less loudly.

It occurred to me that I, too, might suffer from a serious form of skin hunger. Our daily work environment is usually devoid of human contact. The #MeToo trend has added a new apprehension to anything remotely resembling contact, no matter how innocent. Raised in a family of huggers and touchers, I am usually quite aware of the people around me that come from more formal family backgrounds, and, are uneasy about physical closeness. Tango itself may very well be the first aid remedy for a case of collective skin hunger, which, as radio panelists claim, is developing into a widespread epidemic.

Unknown to us at Los Locos, we may have been onto a trend! I will admit now that our, now classic, free welcome hug may not have been entirely without self-interest. Skin hunger, the scientist explained, is the unfulfilled desire to be touched. Babies can have skin hunger. Girls most certainly can have it. Boys are wrongfully programmed to deny their skin hunger. Instead, they wrestle with each other, in displays of manliness, and eventually end up squeezing their loved ones with too much force. I was fascinated, to hear several authors explain how essential touching and physical intimacy are. Cruel experiments on monkeys prove that sapiens simply die, for lack of being touched. So, for a couple of brief moments, our milonga seemed to me like a specially designed clinic, for patients with the skin hunger affliction.

Going to a milonga is like meeting your family of consenting adult tango dancers.We don’t want to boast, but we offer a wide range of hugs as a welcome gesture to our guests.  There is, of course, the superficial two-second hug, usually between men, who sort of carefully hover over each other, as if they are saying, ‘I am hugging you, but my heart is not in it. Don’t get me wrong.’ Then there is the five second hug. It is good hug, but not more than the substitute for a handshake. The twenty second hug is different. It is used in more advanced cases of skin hunger and serves as a quick fix, before the regular treatment of full tandas begins. Finally, there is the forty second hug, used in more serious cases.

After hearing the programme I have a suspicion that our milonga could do more to fight this epidemic. We should train our team to go for powerful, forty second, welcome hugs. I know the market is ready for it.

Story posted by: Martin van Kesteren

About the author: Event Organiser, Writer from Amsterdam

Published: 22 Jul 2019 @ 15:49

Last modified: 18 Mar 2020 @ 19:33

Comments (2)

Martin van Kesteren (Author) commented:
Mvk: with a big thank you for the amazing photography of Marta Kossakowska at, documenting our boutique milonga for many years with an eye for erotic detail.
Posted 22 Jul 2019 @ 15:56 | Last modified 22 Jul 2019 @ 15:56 | View and share
Anthony Cronin commented:
Martin, wonderful piece and I certainly think you are onto something with this 40” hug. The welcome hugs are part of what makes Los Locos always special and a pleasure to visit.
Posted 22 Jul 2019 @ 17:03 | Last modified 22 Jul 2019 @ 17:03 | View and share
Skin Hunger
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