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gancho | October 16, 2019

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Ugo Poletti: I wanted to have the power to bring happiness to women

Ugo Poletti, an Italian tango devotee, shares his thoughts on tango, music and relationships. If you want to find out why he thinks tango is a drug and what his remedy is, keep reading 🙂

Why tango? How did you become interested in this dance?

I have always been interested in partner dancing like Cuban salsa and Viennese waltz. Tango was something strange because at the beginning I didn’t like it at all. I didn’t like the music and I didn’t understand the dynamic because from outside it’s difficult to understand clearly how it works. So, I decided to stay away from it, but through a love affair with a tango dancer I started to be more involved in it. Our love affair was interrupted in an unnatural way. I was frustrated by this, but I was already involved in the tango environment, not yet in the dance, though. I decided to attend classes thinking that maybe one day I will meet my lost partner again and she will realize what she missed. It was a sort of a symbolic revenge for me.

As for my motivation – ever since I was a child when I watched television and movies with famous dancers like Fred Astaire I wanted to be a part of this kind of a game because it was very interesting for me to see the style of these dancers, their elegance and how men could create smiles in their partners, how women seem to be happy to dance with these wonderful partners. This seems to me like real power. I wanted to learn how to get it. I wanted to learn how to have this power to bring happiness to women. Maybe it seems silly, but that’s the reason I started to dance.

How is tango different from other dances and what do you find most fascinating about tango?

I started from my first motivation – tango is something very nice to watch from an aesthetic point of view. But I found something very interesting for me – tango is completely different from other dances. It is more difficult because it requires a higher psychological involvement and it has a higher level of body language. When I started I stumbled upon the first difficulty – men need to acquire natural leadership. They need to recover a sense of leadership on the woman which is not something we are used to in modern society. It was not just about understanding steps and how to embrace a woman, but also to find a way to communicate your leadership. Not in an aggressive way, but, first of all, in an understandable way. This exercise made the game very interesting. I said to myself: “Okay, it is not an easy objective, I will get some results in a longer term than the expected, but this is interesting for me, because I am going to learn something about myself, something I am not used to.”

Secondly, it was about learning how to listen to a woman through your contact. This was also quite a new experience because in other dances there is a longer distance between the bodies. When you embrace tightly, the communication is higher. There is something that you learn little by little. It is shocking when you are a beginner, but it is a very interesting exercise. You understand more about the person that you embrace without talking which is the most interesting part. When some friends ask me if it is very difficult to learn steps, I explain that it is not about the steps or just reproducing some movements. It is a matter of connection.

I also think that as a result of tango my life changed, my behaviour and my way of managing relationships changed.

How exactly did tango change your personal life?

My life changed in two ways.

In terms of personality, now I am less shy then in the past. I was not shy in human relations in general, but I was shy in approaching women. I was always worried about the right words, the right behaviour to get their attention. I am Italian, so for us this is very important. As a result of tango I feel more relaxed and natural. Due to the embrace and the body language I have the feeling that it is not difficult to be understood. Even in social life my approach to other people is more relaxed, natural and direct. I think this is the result of knowing how to dance. Tango dancers have a good experience with body contact. In our social lives body contact is something that can be considered too direct, worrisome, and embarrassing. Well, as a result of tango I feel it is very natural.

I think it also changed my view of women. Sometimes we are slaves to appearances. We are used to assess a person based on only what we see. If we want to create a relationship with the opposite sex, we base our attention only to few details – may be the face, legs, body and so on. As a result of tango you realise there are other features of the person which is very interesting – the way she moves, some gestures. Speaking from the point of view of the leader in the dance, if you are a beginner, you tend to invite friends, members of your classes, or beautiful girls. But when you become an improved dancer, little by little, you don’t base your attention or your choices on the beauty of the followers, but on the harmony or the beauty of her movements. I think now I have a more complete vision of what a woman could be as a follower, a dance partner or a friend in social life.

For me, there are two problems related to tango. One of them is that it is like a drug. After a marathon or a festival I need some days off to relax. On the other hand, if you spend one week without dancing, you become like a man addicted to drugs, so, this is a problem. The other one is the way we are used to share emotions through embracing, feeling the music and dancing to it. This makes me very uncomfortable when I am, for example, at dinner – when I meet someone interesting I want to immediately dance with them, but it is not possible if she is not a tango dancer. This is a problem for me. That’s why I have started to reduce my social events where dance is not allowed.

You travel a lot and visit a lot of tango marathons and festivals. Where, in your opinion, are the best dancers?

I travel a lot, so I know the countries where tango is good or very popular. I think that every country brings different traditions, a different approach and style. For example, the Italian style, bearing in mind the opinions of foreigners, is not continuous. Italian tango changes strikingly from one city to the other or from one region to the other. This is typical of Italy – we differ a lot from the South to the North. We also tend to dance at a high speed. So, if a tango has a quick base, we tend to go to the base. In France I found that they tend to be very slow. They love to dance very slowly even in milongas that we, in Italy, tend to hurry up. In their case, they are very slow, they don’t care about quick music. They like to stay in one place and enjoy the embrace. In northern countries, for example in Germany, there is good technique, but they don’t like improvisation. They don’t like to do something unexpected which means that when you create something and you try the movement that your inspiration suggests to you, you don’t feel the passion that you probably feel when you dance with people from Mediterranean countries like Turkey or Lebanon. There you feel the sun, you feel the passion, and you feel the spirit of joy.

In terms of dance technique, women from Slavic countries tend to have a very good technique and discipline in dance as a result of their sports and artistic tradition. At the same time this technique doesn’t eliminate the personal passion. I found a tendency in the women from Russia, Bulgaria, Serbia and Croatia to be technically ready and understand very well the body communication, but at the same time to be very keen to explore new things in dance. This is not the same as countries like France and Germany. There, if you try to put something unexpected, you feel the resistance.

Do you have a favourite tango?

In general, I like Pugliese, because his music is very interesting. I don’t know why, but there is one tango that I like to whistle very often when I am under the shower or outside. This is “Don Juan” by Di Sarli. It is always exciting for me to dance to it.


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