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Saturday, 13 July 2013

That Buenos Aires embrace #2

Ask a seasoned social tango dancer what they look for in a dance partner, and it should come as no surprise that a good embrace will normally feature in their response.

Recently, a very experienced tanguero friend remarked - with a palpable degree of nostalgia - how different the tango embrace of porteñas is, as compared to most Europeans, North Americans, etc. (I was relieved when he conceded that there were notable exceptions!) He felt that their embrace “helped create an atmosphere for a brief 3 minute love affair”.  They surrender - body & soul - to their partner for the duration of the tango.
This embrace can take various forms: left arm over his right shoulder reaching to his left shoulder; left arm around his right upper arm reaching around his back; etc.  It’s not a one-size-fits-all embrace. It has to feel comfortable for both dancers, and not compromise axis nor freedom of movement. Heights & body shapes will affect the embrace, but it should feel like a complete embrace. A word of caution: the lady’s left elbow jutting out like a sharp weapon is a definite no, no – especially on a crowded floor. 

Jantango went to the trouble of compiling quite a comprehensive series of photos of ladies’ embraces & commentary: How do you hug your dance partner? part 1, part 2 and part 3. Can you see yourself there?
And how do these embraces work? Here’s a selection of embraces in action at Lujos, one of our favourite Buenos Aires milongas

Just a final thought: I find that a memorable embrace is not only physical. It feels like your partner is 100% in tune with you. In this age of multiple distractions, isn’t that something to be treasured?
Gentlemen, what type of embrace you prefer?



  1. Andy (Barcelona)14 July 2013 at 17:45

    Very nice post!
    For me, the best are "the gripper" and "the normal". They offer a continnue and close contact between the dancers which creats an intimate atmosfere that isolates them from the rest of the world. Anyway I understand that height, many times, rules the type of the embrace.

  2. The embrace of tango is one of the most important things I learned from the milongueros. They are fully present in the moment when they dance.

    Lovely post.

  3. Andy and Jantango, thanks for your comments.

    In different words, both of you capture what is special about a really good embrace - the sensation that everything else is unimportant - at least for the duration of that tango.


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