by Naomi Harris
Hugs are healthy. (I find this a great personal relief, because I detest gyms but rather enjoy cuddling.) Hugging releases oxytocin and dopamine, meaning that hugs lower stress levels, blood pressure, and heart rate, and they make us happy. They also make us trust and care for each other more, strengthening our relationships and personal connections. In fact, scientists (who are apparently getting around waaaaay more than I thought) recommend hugging for at least twenty seconds, eight times a day. Well, cancel my gym membership and call me a personal trainer, because I hug for twelve minutes, eight times a day, and you can, too! (Yes, I’m talking about tango. When am I not talking about tango?)
According to a new study, the hug hormone Oxytocin boosts bonding by releasing Cannabis-like molecules!!*
Today, many social interactions are exchanged through keyboards. They are relegated to pictures on small screens, they are curated by social media, and, in person, they are often restricted to professional handshakes or fleeting hugs, and cursory ‘hi-how-are-you-fine’s'. These have led to undeniably incredible advancements in science and technology, and they allow for wonderful and unprecedented global communication. But, as my new scientist friends have proved, humans live better with more personal contact. And if twenty seconds is the minimum for healthy hugs, isn’t four songs (the usual length of a tango tanda) abundant? So, I’ve come to the conclusion that tango is going to save the world.
I sound unnecessarily dramatic, possibly, but I mean it; tango is about communicating, in person, with another. It means learning to have a wordless conversation through the music and embrace. It breaks down the walls we build as we hide—in our pajamas watching Netflix, stressing about other people’s seemingly picture-perfect lives and not knowing that they are doing the same—behind our computers. Tango ensures that you leave the house, live in the moment, and hug your friends. It helps you make natural, non-technological social connections on and off the dance floor.
Tango reminds us of the most important things in life; friends, love, art, authenticity, and organic personal connections.
Tango has been around for over a hundred years. In fact, it’s older than sliced bread. As one of the longest surviving and most widespread social dances in history, today you find people dancing tango in all the major, and many minor, cities around the world. It’s is rather like participating in a mafia-like international organization; it gives you a community in every city, so if you’re traveling, you only have to stop by a milonga to make friends and feel at home. Tango, by virtue of being the coolest dance, attracts the coolest people; I’ve met artists, backpackers, musicians, professors, doctors, mailmen, and both etymologists and entomologists. Your tango friends will be some of the most interesting people you will ever meet. In helping you reach your quota of healthy hugs, tango brings people together and builds communities. It’s exercise, it provides an outlet for creative expression, and it reminds people of the most important things in life; friends, love, art, authenticity, and organic personal connections.
Photo: ©Emma Bogren Photography
* The study has been published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.