The tango embrace

Years of ballroom dancing in Chicago never prepared me for what I was to experience during my first trip to Buenos Aires to dance tango in 1996. I received an embrace while dancing completely different from any I had before with any partner. Those nights of dancing with Argentine men in the milongas confirmed for me that tango is a feeling that is danced. Tango is an embrace.
I know many women who have found that special feeling in tango when dancing in the milongas with Argentine men. It’s a feeling of security and being protected while losing oneself in the music. We can forget all our troubles and be present in the moment. No other dance has the feeling of tango.

When I think of all the teachers who travel from Buenos Aires to teach in the United States and other countries, I am astonished that the importance of the embrace is rarely talked about in classes. It’s what dancers are missing until they arrive in Buenos Aires. The embrace is something teachers assume their students understand. It requires understanding the culture of tango from those who have lived tango for many years—the milongueros.

The embrace is mutual giving. He embraces me, and I embrace him. Our hearts beat together as we share three minutes of a story told in music. Our souls connect. Tango allows two to become one.








One Response to “The tango embrace”

  1. Colin Brace Says:

    You wrote above:

    “The embrace is something teachers assume their students understand.”

    I kinda doubt this. First, many tango teachers come from dance backgrounds where the embrace is less important than other aspects of dance technique. Second, the tango abrazo requires a measure of physical intimacy with strangers that northern European cultures aren’t as comfortable with as the Latin world is; this requires teachers to overcome cultural barriers for which they may equipped or inclined. Third, at the risk of sounding cynical, teaching ganchos and all the other show tango figures is far more lucrative than teaching basic technique such as posture, but to be fair that may be driven partly by students’ expectations.

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