Psycho-Tango, Qu'est Que C'est?

25th February 2010

Dr Marvin Monroe, TV psychotherapist, looks at Tango...

Interviewer: Is tango a healthy pastime? We invited an eminent and well known psychiatrist Dr Robert Winston onto our programme but he said he had better things to do, so instead we have Dr Marvin Monroe to look at this.

Dr Marvin Monroe: Well there are several aspects one must consider; the social aspects, the mastery of the dance, its exercise value; the nature of music. All these things are capable of giving one a sense of pleasure or well being. But is tango a better dance than say ceroc or salsa or ballroom dancing?

I: have you looked at this?

Dr M: Yes I have. if you ask any group of dancers they will say this is the best dance if it is their favourite. Ceroc and Salsa are far better exercise being aerobic and they give your heart a bit of exercise.

What is more interesting is the music. Music is quite unique in that it can evoke certain emotions and it engages other parts of the brain than those we use in everyday life and if you like a piece of music it can create some quite dramatic effects. But emotionally it can evoke a variety of emotions, not necessarily happy ones but people like evoking certain emotions even if they're not happy ones. People go to see scary movies and weepies for instance.

I: so that listening to music and moving to it is beneficial?

Dr M: Well its very difficult to measure. So you have to ask what sort of people are drawn to tango. Dancers are characterized by high-level education and socio-economic status, so in social terms they're posh and they look down on other people; in the same way that I regard myself a superior human being to you, as you are a mere interviewer whereas I am an expert in my field.

I: well there's no need to get personal.

Dr M: but you've missed the point; tango dancers are so convinced that theirs is the best dance is that this in itself convinces them that it is more enjoyable than other forms of dance even though modern jive and salsa are more popular.
Being in a minority as these dancers are outside Argentina allows them to think they are an elite. They know its not as easy to learn so it reinforces their Social Status of Educational Superiority.
But if you were to give it some perspective its nowhere near as demanding as say flamenco, or ballet. So in any survey tango dancers will give you a lot of reasons why they enjoy it so much which has more to do with their eloquence and intelligence than anything measurable.

I: So you are saying that tango dancers are liars?

Dr M: No ... but they believe their own bull-, I mean mythology or "scripts" as we psychotherapists call it. But if you take a scientific approach and measure say the presence of certain indicator chemicals in the blood stream or brain then you might get different results.

I: And have you done this?

Dr M: Indeed. I have. I have measured serotonin and dopamine levels in different dance groups before and after dancing for an hour.

I: And what has this shown?

Dr M: That Morris Dancers are the happiest

~ BorderTangoMan, 25th February 2010