It takes two to tango

Ah, the Tango…a spicy, sultry, seductive, sensual dance…wherein the man takes in hand his woman and ultimately leads her into submitting to his will as she yields and follows; however, she is not without challenge or resistance to his leading. Is he a man strong enough to soften and conquer her? Is he worthy of her submission?

One can see the steam rising off the two as they generate heat and sparks across the floor. It is vertical lovemaking in motion and even though there are certain steps involved, it visually captures the essence of the sexual dynamic of a Taken In Hand relationship between a man and a woman...from first look to surrender.

The man—I am strong, macho, virile, skilled, self-assured, confident, and taking.
The woman—I am strong, feminine, seductive, arousing, teasing, withholding, and yielding.

The man—You are mine! I will have you!
The woman—Oh? with a feigned lack of interest.

The man—Yes! I will conquer you.
The woman—I don't think so.

The man—Yes! I will take you.
The woman—No, you wouldn't dare.

The man—Yes! I will.
The woman—You brute!

The man—I will.
The woman—Oh!

The woman—Take me, I'm yours!
The man—I have.

Prior to and during part of the 50's most of the dances, including the tango, involved direct male/female physical contact. Dancing was popular and almost everyone knew the steps. Both partners also knew that there was only one who led, the man--and there was only one who followed, the woman (even though she was dancing backwards and in high heels). Both cannot lead. If the man didn't know the steps and didn't know how to lead and the woman didn't know the steps and didn't know how to follow, it would get pretty ugly and awkward out there with toes being stepped on and people getting bumped into…confusion ensued…very frustrating and no fun.

My parents met at a dance 54 years ago and they are still dancing as well as many of their friends. It's a real delight to watch them as they glide so effortlessly across the floor like Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Other women like to dance with my dad because he's an excellent dancer. He knows all the steps and he knows how to lead and my mom knows all the steps and she knows how to follow. Dancing has always been a vital part of their lives.

During the last 50 or so years, many types of music have been created--Rock & Roll, Acid Rock, Disco, Pop, Hip Hop, Gangster Rap, Heavy Metal--as well as many social events--the birth control pill, the Hippie Generation, the moon landing, The Vietnam War, demonstrations, assassinations, and Women's Lib, just to name a few. While I like some of the music from these eras, most contact dancing for this generation became almost non-existent because the type of music that was prevalent was hard to dance to. I believe the male-led aspect was somehow lost during this time. Long-live slow dancing, but most dances during the 60's and 70's started to become individual, without contact, and was often in a drug-induced state. It kind of went downhill from there. With the advent of Women's Lib, where most women did not want to follow men, I believe another blow was delivered to male-led relationships. Somehow we forgot all the steps.

Today, there seems to be a resurgence of interest in ballroom/contact dancing, especially the tango, and it will be interesting to see if and how that dynamic will affect the next generation. My youngest son has taken swing and tango lessons and he said that they have helped him become more assured and confident as a man because he has learned how to take the lead. Apparently so, because women enjoy dancing with him, too. I believe he has followed in his grandfather's footsteps.

I've always felt dancing was a great way to know how a man was and as a woman found it very exciting to be in the hands of a man who was skilled in taking control of me without words and in slowly mesmerizing me into submitting to his will…very hot and dreamy.

As on the dance floor, finding a good partner can be a rather difficult process…some men can be too overbearing, can jerk you around and hurt you or are too timid, have two left feet and haven't a clue as to what they are doing. I guess it all depends on what moves you.

Would learning how to dance help both sexes navigate through a Taken In Hand relationship? I don't think it would hurt because…it takes two to tango.


Taken In Hand Tour start | next


Does ballroom dancing make me

Does ballroom dancing make men more confident about taking the lead? I've no idea. My husband did ballroom dancing when he was at grammar school when he was young. They used to take a bunch of boys up to the girls' grammar in the town. He did it mainly because it got him out of playing ball games, which he loathed, and also because he got to fondle the girls while he was dancing with them, also the girls' grammar school got out a quarter of an hour earlier than the boys'. When I recently related this story to our oldest son, he shook his head pityingly "What a pansy" he said. Evidently there is no connection in his mind between ballroom dancing and masculinity. However, taking the lead in the ballroom may have contributed to my husband's extremely bossy nature, I don't know.

The only kind of dancing I did when I was young was country dancing, which I enjoyed. I liked the tunes we danced to, and I liked the fact that most of the dances involved vigorous movement and changes of partners, being whilred around or jumped in the air by a succcession of different men appealed to my naturally promiscuous nature. I wouldn't mind still doing it, but ballroom dancing doesn't appeal to me at all. It takes two to tango, but it takes at least a dozen people to do a good Strip The Willow.


Yes - the tango :)

It is a pleasant surprise for me to read an article about the tango on this site. I have always thought about this dance as a form of articulation of the kind of male-female relationship I prefer. This has many layers.

Let us start with the way man and woman hold each other while dancing the tango: the two stand very close, one foot of the woman being practically captured between the feet of the man, torsos touching, paralel. The man raises his right elbow shoulder-high for the woman and puts his right hand on her upper back. Her left hand is put on the man`s back—not on his shoulder! If it were on the shoulder, the woman would still be able to resist, to protest, to bear at least some influence. Instead her hand rests on his upper back, but not holding him, not clutching, oh no! Her palm is 90 degrees with his back, thumb pointing downwards. Now she is really helpless: if she does not allow him to lead her with his body (not his hands!), letting her feel all his virility, she is lost and the whole dance will be a mess.

Eye contact is non-existent, man and woman standing slightly aside, the woman`s head being beside the man`s and not face to face. Now the woman MUST follow and follow blindly! Her only influence on the dance is her initial "Yes" or "No", namely her decision whether she would dance at all. Once she consented to the dance she has no influence whatsoever as to how that perticular dance will go. She must be careful in her choice of her tango partner because there is no way back once the dance has started. He must decide on the steps, ensuring that both are satisfied with the outcome, and that he does not make a laughing stock out of both in the eyes on the others watching them dance. He must combine this with his responsibility of leading her in a way that will not harm her—nobody would like to be injured on the dancefloor. This is even more difficult without eye contact, but possible and wonderful, a sign of ultimate trust on her side and the readiness to take responsbility on his.

The second aspect is the fact that the man does not lead with his hands—one hand holding the woman`s and the other embracing her torso -, but by moving his torso in a very decided, even harsh way against hers. This may look or even feel exaggerated, but the truth is that it is impossible to dance the tango without this. By moving his torso against hers he shows her what to do next: go forwards or backwards, turn left or right. Even so, it is not easy for her to follow, and it would be impossible if he used only his hands while leading. This way she is forced to feel his torso, and even his most intimate parts, be faced with the fact that/if he is aroused.

And now the last but for me almost the most important point: there is no tango without her ACTIVE consent. No woman can be dragged to tango, she must go with pleasure, very conscious of what she is doing.

Now let me elaborate on this. I have been part of the BDSM-scene for almost ten years of my life. The main reason why I do not describe myself as a "slave" or "submissive" any more is that I do not feel related to women who need to be tied up and forced to please their men. I do it because I like it, because it feels right for me. I do not need excuses of "rape" and "punishment"—I am strong and self-confident enough to s*** c*** without being forced to do so. I do it because I like it.

It is the same with the tango: I am not dragged to follow my man, on the contrary! I go out of my way to consciously learn the steps and the way to let loose, to let him lead. I take his directions what to do and I DO IT MYSELF, of my own drive! He induces a certain pattern of steps and I do not just PASSIVELY endure it but ACTIVELY do everything I can in order to please him, to fulfill his desire.

Yes, I love the tango, partly because it helps me show all who care that I am not a "slave" but a strong and free woman who has managed to capture a man worthy of such absolute trust, a trust which enables me to give him the most valuable thing I had to give away: my nonconsential consent.

All so true

I certainly do agree. For the last stanza:

The woman—Take me, I'm yours!
The man—You already are.


We are getting dancing lessons

We are getting dancing lessons, me and my husband, now for second year. It is charming, it is hot. It is gluing our together!

I used to be affraid of ballroom dancing, I am bit disorderd when new dance is teached, something to do with co-operation of hemispheres... But I am so happy being lead by him on the floor.

At the lessons we also learn to deal with conficts when it does not get on well. He is ambitious to dance excellently...

I recommend you



They taught us the waltz at school. I certainly think couples doing something physical together can help relationships. I have defects in my brain though, which make dancing hard, mean I can't read maps and various things like that so it's not for everyone; although of course I'd do it for a man if he wanted it.

Thanks Everyone for your Comments

Strip the Willow? You crack me up, Louise. I can certainly relate to you though. We used to do folk dancing in elementary school, too, but I don't recall ever getting fondled. That happened in jr. high during my first slow really wasn't fondling per se, but he got really close and personal, if you know what I mean.

Saskia, thank you for your excellent elaboration on the tango and how the intimate details and dynamics can be lived out in a real life Taken In Hand relationship. I certainly learned a lot from what you wrote. As in tango, willing to trust certainly is a key to a great relationship.

Kaiser, great edit. Thanks! I was wondering what a man would think about it and I appreciate you taking the time to read and comment on my article.

Hali, that's wonderful that you and your husband are currently taking dance lessons and that your husband really wants to be a good dancer. I think that's great that the lessons also give you ways to handle conflict, not only will that help you on the dancefloor, but also in every day life. Keep on dancing!!

Hera, bless your heart. I can't read maps very well either, can't parallel park the car or remember which is left and right at times, but never really thought of them as defects. That's the way we're wired. I'm sure you are a woman who possesses many strengths and talents. And about the dancing, it might be that you've never had a good dance partner before...

Tanguera Hera

And I bet you'd be superb at it, Hera! I'd ask you for a dance, anyway.

On Dancer, on Prancer

Lady Di: Much is to be learned in taking a woman in your arms in dance. I am not a particular fan of ritualized, formalized dance but there are some lovely evocations here of stylized male/female dynamics in the tango. Saskia's poetry makes the blood flow warm so, youthful lessons long forgotten, I'd give stylized dance a try--but not that mincing contradance stuff. Goofy square dance can be fun--it is so hokey as to be totally liberating. In energetic dance I’d be more inclined to free-form romp and frolic in the manner Louise suggests. As a man who is quite content not to be over the onslaught of hormones, I’d rather be thrown out of a club for having snoggin on my noggin and dirty dancing. If one is to make spectacle, may as well do it right.

My mom and dad did a very easy, stylish foxtrot. It was the theme of their love, practised joyously in the Harlem clubs of the forties. My mother would beam and radiate.

I love the slow dance of close embrace, some of my fondest memories going back to last dance darkness in motion with youthful sweetheart. The way a woman surrenders to the lead is immensely telling. Others feel knocked off balance, pushed. Some go giggly self-conscious. I like best that sweetly solemn trance where the world has gone so far background as to have vanished. I am told some folks embrace otherwise in like fashion.

VH, thank you for your respon

VH, thank you for your response. I've always thought dancing was a great mating ritual and one can certainly "divine" a lot of unspoken things from being in the arms of another while on the dance floor. And in my experience, to find someone who can transport you into that sweet solemn trance and embrace you speak of, on the dance floor and otherwise, is indeed very rare. To have someone resonant like that with you doesn't happen often in one's lifetime. And I'm glad you have such wonderful, cherished memories of your mother and father dancing.


It's brilliant, isn't it? I started tango a couple of years ago without really noticing part of my interest in it is the male-female dynamic... how dim of me was that? It is the sexiest, moodiest, coolest and most passionate thing out, it's as simple as that. And I love the way it represents equality between the sexes, in a way, while assigning a defined role to each; complementarity might be another word for what I mean. We all love that here, of course, don't we?

I'm interested in what you wrote about contact dances generally, Di. I think contact dancing is quite a grown-up thing to do: dancing in such close physical proximity obviously has some sexual overtones, but it's social, too. We dance with all kinds of different partners, without actually wanting to snog them all. So, an old-fashioned dance is an exercise in civilised, adult behaviour in which we all enjoy a sort of controlled social promiscuity, and in which our sexuality is restrained anad, again, controlled. Of course we can let it rip a little bit if we like, with our partner (or newly-found partner!). I think it's interesting that it's often older people and kids who are interested in this kind of dance—as though you need either to be a bit innocent about sex, or else to have discovered it long enough ago to be over the whole hormonal drama.

In contrast, I think non-contact dancing became popular with the rise of the teenager. Teenagers are of course painfully aware of their sexuality and I suspect have difficulty coping with dancing that involves touch—boys especially. No surprise, then, that they developed ways of dancing that allow them simply to observe each other from afar. It's made for less sexual equality of course because the lads often just ogle from the sidelines while the girls bagdance.

Carl, thanks for your comment

Carl, thanks for your comments. It's interesting to read your inside perceptions as a man who actually dances the tango. What was it about tango that attracted you in the first place and have you noticed a difference in how you now respond to your partners and they to you? Since most of us here are interested in male-led relationships, has the tango made you feel more dominant as a man?

Social dancing in some form whether it was folk, square or ballroom, was always a part of the curriculum in the schools I attended in California so the teenage boys I knew didn't seem to be too shy about getting their hands on a girl. I guess there's something to be gained in being bold.

Tango music

I think the music was the way in for me, Di. I listened to a bit of tango music, and thought it had a cool, melancholy feel to it that was kind of dark and moody—and that kind of thing appeals to me really deeply. That got me interested in the look of the dance, and in trying it—but it was only after I actually started it and especially after I started to get okay, that I began to think of it as linked to my way of thinking about sex and relationships. Funny!

I wouldn't say it makes me feel more dominant. I do think, though, that it's freeing, in that it makes me feel more relaxed about being very definitely male. I know that's welcome in a way. And I love the way women react to me on the dancefloor—it's a place where masculinity is really valued, and women make me feel wanted.

As to how I react to dance partners—well, I realise I react very positively to those women who seem to revel in their own femininity. But then I knew I was like that anyway. I've definitely learned though that following is a real skill, that not all women are good at it, and that a woman who is is worth grabbing hold of and dancing as close to as possible! I think it's like that in life, too.

Dear Carl

How positively delightful for your partners! You could even create your own "dance"...spanking to sultry tango!!