Gifted? Lonely? Learn the Argentine Tango

That would be me and the tango.

Are you looking for a way to meet people who are smart, sensitive, creative and curious? Are you wondering where computer geeks, philosophers, physicists, musicians, artists, avid readers and psychotherapists gather? Would you like to engage in an activity that will improve your balance, flexibility and your brain? Are you needing a way to get embraced by friendly strangers whose sole purpose in that moment is to tune into your beating heart?


Then you need the Argentine tango.

When I started dancing the tango at age 47, I quickly became enthralled by the beauty, the music, and the sensual-osity of it all. And because I’m always on the lookout for rainforest minds, I was pleasantly surprised to find so many in one place. I think that’s because the Argentine tango is both intellectually and creatively challenging to learn and so very satisfying once you reach a certain level of competence.

Tango requires all of those things that you already have: intelligence, sensitivity, curiosity, intuition, and empathy. And it gives you something that you may not have — safe, sweet moments of intimacy with other humans.

I am not making this up.

You may have trouble finding people who want to travel into the depths with you. You may have trouble finding people who can keep up with your rapid thoughts and complicated emotions. And if you’re an avid reader, researcher and writer like Maria Popova, the creator of the fabulous weekly online digest Brain Pickings, most of your friends may be “dead people.”

Let me explain. Maria Popova describes herself as “…an interestingness hunter-gatherer and curious mind at large.” Her website is, as she says, “a subjective lens on what matters in the world and why.” She synthesizes the work of all sorts of great thinkers, authors and artists (many of them dead) and draws her own brilliant conclusions. I’m guessing that she’s got a rainforest mind. She was interviewed by Krista Tippett for her program On Being and asked to speak for her generation. (She was 30 at the time of the interview.) She said that she couldn’t do that because, “…most of my friends are dead people.” She’s not spending much time with her generation.

Perhaps you aren’t either.

So, if you’re looking for some humans who are smart, sensitive, creative, and curious and if, most of your friends are dead people and you want to find some living ones, well, now you know what to do.


To my blogEEs: If you want to find an Argentine tango community near you, Google is your friend. It seems that there are Argentine tango communities all over the world. Let us know how it goes. And let us know what other activities you do to find rainforest-minded souls. Oh, and be sure to check out Brain Pickings and On Being. And thanks, as always, for reading and sharing.

Author: Paula Prober

I’m a psychotherapist and consultant in private practice based in Eugene, Oregon. I specialize in international consulting with gifted adults and parents of gifted children. I’ve been a teacher and an adjunct instructor at the University of Oregon and a frequent guest presenter at Oregon State University and Pacific University. I’ve written articles on giftedness for the Eugene Register-Guard, the Psychotherapy Networker, Advanced Development Journal and online for psychotherapy dot net, Rebelle Society, Thrive, Introvert Dear, and Highly Sensitive Refuge. My first book, Your Rainforest Mind: A Guide to the Well-Being of Gifted Adults and Youth, is a collection of case studies of gifted clients along with many strategies and resources for gifted adults and teens. My second book, Journey Into Your Rainforest Mind: A Field Guide for Gifted Adults and Teens, Book Lovers, Overthinkers, Geeks, Sensitives, Brainiacs, Intuitives, Procrastinators, and Perfectionists is a collection of my most popular blog posts along with writing exercises for self-exploration and insight.

32 responses to “Gifted? Lonely? Learn the Argentine Tango”

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  1. Resources for Inspiration, Information, and Introspection for Your Curious, Compassionate, and Overwhelmed Mind and Heart | Your Rainforest Mind

    […] find other rainforest minds (until it’s safe to tango) look for a silent book club in your town or start […]

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  17. Danette Kowal Seiler Avatar
    Danette Kowal Seiler

    I have gained a lot from your blog, and was just perusing for the first time in a couple of months. I noticed the tag for ‘Argentine tango’ in the tag cloud today, and had to follow it. I didn’t remember it from before, but it wouldn’t have really caught my eye then. I just started Argentine tango lessons this month. Dance has been something I’ve really gotten into starting nearly four years ago, while I’ve dealt with some painful life changes and challenges. I started with Contra dance, then took a few dance-type fitness classes, and last winter and spring I took three sessions of East Coast Swing. I also got involved with a group that does flash mob dances to raise awareness of sexual assault. It went a long way to help me get out of my introvert (dis)comfort zone, and also to change the way I see myself: not so much the awkward, clumsy nerd I was all my life. Being single, Contra dance is great — East Coast Swing, not so much, though I love both.

    On a whim, I tried tango. We have a very active tango community where I live. Even though I jumped in at the third class, it was amazing. Totally different from any of the other dances I’ve tried — it challenges me to follow a ‘lead’ as Swing does, but requires a totally different type of trust and connection — not just looking for ‘cues,’ but really having an awareness of my partner and myself. Sometimes, my partner and I just. don’t. click. He’s too busy showing all of the fancy stuff he can do, and isn’t noticing that I’m not there yet. Other times, a different partner and I will just become seamless, and counter-intuitively, I will suddenly be able to follow his lead into more complicated steps that I’ve never been formally taught. Our teachers are very welcoming, and encourage people to dance with everyone.

    I had a mild traumatic brain injury about a year and a half ago, along with a whiplash injury, and for about four months after, I couldn’t dance at all. When I started again, I noticed some problems with balance and coordination. I was crushed because I could no longer do some of the dance moves I had before, and remembering new combinations of steps was severely impaired. In the year since then, I’ve been steadily getting better. When I have that experience at tango of the seemingly effortless partnership, I feel almost back to ‘normal,’ and at time, even better than I was before. And yes, to the simple ‘skin’ contact with another human. I can be affectionate with my son, and hug my girlfriends, but there’s something special about dancing with a partner.

    As to finding dance groups, check MeetUp to see if there are any local dance groups, or check with fitness studios, or anyplace that teaches dance — even for kids. Dance teachers know each other, and they can probably tell you who’s holding classes that may not be advertised. I learned that a cowboy bar not too far from my house has a teacher that takes over the place on Wednesday nights to teach ballroom dancing!

    And, Paula, I love what you said about why dancing is so good for us. I have loved to dance as far back as I can remember, though nobody would have called me a ‘dancer.’ Now, though, I really do think it offers something to us introverty/socially awkward types that can be just as challenging as any more ‘cerebral’ pursuit. BTW, when I first started dancing again, I was 47, too!

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Welcome back, Danette! Thanks for sharing your tango story. I’m sure that your determination to continue dancing after your injuries has been a strong factor in your healing. Dance is so therapeutic in so many ways!

  18. Atlas Educational Avatar
    Atlas Educational

    Paula, I’d love to see some photos of you tango-ing! I’d also be honored if you visited us on FB in Gifted Adults. You’re right though, to find others like us we need to find places and situations that complement or compliment our minds.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Hi Lisa. Thanks for the invitation. I just joined! I didn’t know about your group. I may not participate much, though. I’m more of a lurker on FB. I use it mostly to share my blog posts.

      There’s only one photo of me dancing. It’s in the bio on my website It’s a very old photo of me when I first started dancing. Hope you like it!

      1. Paula Prober Avatar
        Paula Prober

        Hm. And maybe some of the readers of this blog could join your FB group??

      2. Atlas Educational Avatar
        Atlas Educational

        Duly noted. You’ve given me so much that I just wanted to let you know you are appreciated! Must go check the photo!

  19. Daniel Boardman Avatar
    Daniel Boardman

    Thank you Paula for such a thoughtful, sensitive, grounded, and ultimately useful article.

    I started tango at about the same age and now, ten years later, can hardly imagine my life without it. Its a glorious way to age; feeling one’s skill grow, rather than diminish, over time, feeling one’s connection to community and friends expand and deepen over the years, rather than growing tenuous, feeling one’s sense of contentment grow with time. It says much that many of the most esteemed dancers in Argentina are elderly.

    That said, tango is not always an easy world to navigate. Progress in mastering technique is slow, proceeding at about the same rate as attempting to master a martial art, and there is no inherent fairness. Dancers choose with whom to dance, and not to dance, based on a mix of seemingly reasonable, and unreasonable variables that include their assessment of the other dancer’s: skill, technique, style, appearance, age, social connection, height, etc.. In the beginning we may have very few dance partners and it all may feel very unfair and even unfriendly.

    There is one potential powerful advantage that older dancers entering the tango world have that (no offense intended) younger dancers may not have and that is, in a word, discernment. Many dancers (leaders anyway), in their tango journey, will squander years studying with teachers that they later come to regard as unhelpful or worse. The maturity and wisdom that comes with age can be invaluable in ascertaining what is superfluous, goofy, and of little of no value versus what is essential, profound, helpful, dancerly, and musical. As older dancers we have no time to waste going doing blind alleys, and that can be a very good thing.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thank you, Daniel, for sharing these details. There’s definitely so much more to say about the dance. This post was just a beginning!

    2. Dmitry Pruss Avatar
      Dmitry Pruss

      I’m glad to discover that often, superfluous is essential and goofy is profound in tango, for it’s a theatrical mini-art form of exaggerations and sparkling positive feedback loops.

      1. Paula Prober Avatar
        Paula Prober

        Fascinating, Dmitry.

  20. Diana Avatar

    I’m Diana from Argentina.Thanks Paula for your healthy tips about Argentine Tango dance and for being an ambassador of the music of my country…today it is worldwide!
    I want to share other benefits of Argentine Tango…Reduces stress, enhances trust, strengthens trust, improving personal relationships and it’s fun, it’s impossible to dance without smiling!
    See you on the dance floor!

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thanks, Diana. Yes, happy dancing!

  21. natalie Avatar

    I wish it were that easy to find new friends. being a gifted introvert is so hard. because even when i am around friends I still feel so very lonely. Its hard to find someone that truly connects with you, even when you have things in common.

    On a side note – having been a ballerina – gifted girls are often drawn to ballet – due to the protectionistic nature of the dance.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      I think the tango and maybe other social dances, too, can be good for introverts because you can connect with someone without having to talk to them! Thanks for sharing, Natalie.

  22. singlemoeder Avatar

    Thanks for the ‘push outside’. I am not sure to tango but it’s a good reminder to get out. Although we prefer to dance in nature especially in a foresty area. I found facebook groups to be good friendfinders and have met a few living creatures already 🙂 since i have small kids it’s a good way of meeting new people too.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thanks for your comment. Yes, dancing in nature is something many people love. And Facebook groups can be great opportunities, especially if you’re a parent.

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