Current Sociology, 66(3), pp. 356-372. doi.org/10.1177/0011392116681385
Although intimacy is an area characterized by great variety and complexity, both popular and academic discourses have traditionally revolved around a restricted number of associations, of which the family, the romantic couple and friendship bonds have resided at the very centre. In this article the author argues that an analytical shift that addresses intimacy in terms of a relational quality – a specific mode of interaction and a particular experience of closeness – instead of a set of relationships, may assist in exploring a wider range of phenomena. This approach is used to study Argentine tango dancing. Ethnographic fieldwork locates the search to the dim-lit dancehalls of Buenos Aires, San Francisco and Stockholm, and accounts for experiences of transitory semi-anonymous attachments. The study concludes tango to be a multifold intimate arena that unveils how complex webs of feelings are entangled with the social organization of attachments.