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The Embrace

The Embrace – a view point.

I was brought up in a culture where people greet each other with a hand shake and a: how do you do. I know many from this background see a warm embrace as a sexual advance, and are quite unable to embrace a stranger with feeling for fear of being misunderstood.

When I dance with someone who chooses not to embrace me in the way they so easily do in Argentina, I feel deprived of the very essence of tango.

There are many styles of tango that can be exciting such as Nuevo and Stage, but for me each one that moves away from Close Embrace moves away from oneness. Close Embrace gently and quietly searches for shared private intimate moments where there is no separation of body, heart, music or universe - it is a transformation of two people who are very conscious of each other and their surroundings and willingly bond as one in the moment. When these moments are experienced they stay with one long after the tanda has finished. Oh what extraordinary feeling they are.

Teachers teach steps because that is what most students demand, but until students in Sydney crave to learn the embrace and are willing to spend the necessary time and effort, I believe they will never experience what Argentine Tango is all about, and this is so very sad.


The joy of the embrace is well illustrated by my teacher in Argentina Andrea Uchitel who over many years developed and continues to develop, La Huella de tu Abrazo 2011. See YouTube 

Re: The Embrace
As far as my memory goes, Sydney had one good workshop on the subject of embrace several years ago by Ney Melo.
At his first visit to Australia, it seems he quickly spotted Sydney dancers (especially the leaders) had fundamental difficulty in embracing.
One of the workshop, I think, was not really about embrace but he ended up expanding the whole workshop into this subject.
It was one of may great eye opening moments I have come across at various visiting teachers' workshops...
At one point he lined up men in circle position and made them close their eyes.
He placed women inside the circle.
Then he asked each woman to stand in front of a man randomly.
And asked women to embrace a man happen to be standing in front of her.
I think he advised women to embrace 'fully'...
About after 20 seconds of so, he stopped it then got women to move to different man and then repeated the process...
I was one of many men who stood and eyes closed...
And it was an incredible experience.
Something I can not explain by words to be honest.
And just for clarifying... I do not mean 'sexual'.
After 5 changes or so, he asked women to gather back in the centre of the circle and then asked men to open eyes.
When I opened my eyes, Is saw couple of dozen of women there and just smiling.
Just absolutely impossible to tell which woman embraced me first and second and third...
There was a major gap between how I 'see' the women with my eyes and the feel of the way I was embraced by 5 of them...
And Ney Melo said "So now you know, what you may be missing when you embrace ladies in poor ways"
By the way,
I think Ney Melo was based in NY at around that time?
When he returned to Sydney for the second time, he taught more conventional ways...
But at his first year, he had some very creative method of teaching. It may be more NY than BA way? Who knows.
At least it was very effective.

Re: The Embrace

I am a follower who had recently taken up to learn how to lead.  My first mission is to perfect the art of fully embracing the follower (a square embrace) and lead a smooth walk no matter how long this simple thing takes.  Everything goes through process and I'm enjoying all of the feedback from the followers that I invited.  One thing that I keep telling myself is not to expect instant gratification and be patient with the process.  The reason?  First I'm longing for the type of close embrace I once experienced, one that is firm but gentle, one where I can move in unity with my partner, closing my eyes all the time and be immersed in the feeling of the music with my partner.  It's amazing how with the right type of embrace, even 'just walk' is sufficient to fully experience that feeling.  And second I'm frustrated by how most leader won't properly embrace the follower, most leave the follower very far to their right, or embrace the follower but always walk outside of them... I understand that this makes it easier for the leaders to walk/lead the step, but these leaders just do not realise how awkward this is for the follower and until they learn how to follow they would never understand that.  I think embrace is so under-rated (and so is a square embrace with the leader walking in complete parallel to the follower).  It takes confidence to do this, what may look simple but actually not.  And the feeling of fully embracing a human being?  It's indescribable (except when it's squeezy, in which case as a follower I would instantly open the embrace).

Re: The Embrace

I am currently a milonguero style (close embrace) dancer.

There are two features in the close embrace.
1.Good feeling rather than good looking.
2.Safe dancing in the crowded milongas.
David and Isao have well commented on 1. above. I am not repeating here again.

Regarding 2.

Close embrace (miloguero style) came out around year 2000 amongst local
milongueros in Buenos Aires to cope with the crowded floor condition.
After nearly 30 year Ice Age of tango dancing, thanks to the stage show
Tango Argentino which happened in 1983 in Paris and followed by major
cities in the world, tango dancing had gradually revived and milongas
has become so popular.

In a crowded milonga the most important thing is the safety of dancers.
To do so, the embrace became closer and closer to prevent crashes by
fancy figures.

The ultimate close embrace the Milonguero Style is not only good feeling
but also the safest dance style in a crowded milongas. Easy to navigate,
easy to control speed, enable to dance in a minimal space to say in 4
tile space.  
Also it is good for health. I used to have a chronicle backache. Now it
has gone because of straight upward posture of Milonguero Style.

Unfortunately there are few milonguero style teachers.
I have learnt first from visiting Argentinean teacher Pecky Zogbie in
2000 in Sydney followed by Enduro Sauced in 2002 and Ana Maria
Shaper in 2005 in Buenos Aires. There are some milonguero style
teachers in Buenos Aires, but many of them are not international

The Milonguero Style is not popular amongst foreign dancers.
 For foreigners, general image of Tango dance is a show dance or
teachers' performance, and naive to the close embrace.
Pecky has visited Sydney frequently after the workshop, but she has
given up milonguero style teaching and never repeated it again. Most students
prefer to learn fancy figures rather than close embrace.

To whom interested in Milonguero Style:
Because of A shape posture and connected at the chests, there is little
space between partners. Their movement is restricted.
There are some special steps for Milonguero Style dancing.
They are convenient and safe to dance in crowded milongas not only close
embrace but also any styles.
Please do not hesitate to ask me more details when you see me.


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