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Elbows Down

Updated: Oct 30, 2022

Another post from our Tango Facebook mate, Raul Beron.

{Note: We use man/woman, rather than lead/follow to describe Tango roles, because there is no lead and follow in Tango - it's just between us].

Over history, and in different cultures, hugging, or embracing friends and dance partners is more, or less, acceptable.

Dance “frame” or embrace varies from dance to dance and culture to culture. It is also very susceptible to fashion and exaggeration. [We have see this in Tango over the past 20 years, with some very awkward postures adopted - Ed].

Countless writings, studies and analysis, have exposed the benefits of hugging. It is not necessary in this essay to expand on them.

As always I will refer to our “million-language existence”, with a description of what is, in my view the most appropriate form and function of the use of arms in a Tango embrace.

Embracing in the milonga is embracing with the body, bringing the heart closer to the other.

Many dancers have been taught to form a structure with the embrace, or to "arm" (as if we were preparing for a defense or attack), to create a space on the dance floor, or to establish with them a "elegant" posture.

None of it is necessary. It is well known, that Argentinians embrace in tango, as we do in real life. it is part of our identity, so let's try to pass it on.

Anything outside of the milonguera tradition in a Tango embrace, revolves around a forced, false, inappropriate characterisation of the affection we try to find and give with the tango embrace.

For men, If a dance partner doesn't share your ideals, don’t force your embrace on any lady. The choice is always hers (as in life). When we come closer for the embrace, we'll know in an instant if she or he wants to share it. If it not a match, both should accept the mistake of not identifying the potential partner beforehand, and finish the set (tanda) as best as possible.

In the milongas, increasingly popular again in the world, as spaces are reduced, the milonguera heritage is more and more effective.

You dance as the couple, and with the other couples on the dance floor. In the event that we are too close to another couple, collect the embrace to protect your partner and other couples.

A high arm is for show, or photo poses; just as arms open and away from the trunk. For the couple, form a W with their arms on the open side of the embrace (left of man, right of woman). BOTH OF THEM ELBOWS DOWN

The man accepts his partner in his personal space, embraces with the body, the right arm circulates horizontally, without pressure, without restraint, the emotion is felt in the chest, not the back.

Your partner must feel refuge in the embrace; not move away from the protection, and run the risk of not feeling the conversation, fundamentally losing the magical possibility of the encounter.

The left arm of the lady is above the shoulders of the man - no action, no clinging, much less hanging - ethereal. If the leader is tall, then around the right arm of the man, but with his elbow down.

The tango embrace should be as natural as possible, tango isn't ballroom-like, and yet some embrace proposals are. It shouldn't be a stereotype.

Embrace with affection, naturally, then, your embrace will feel glorious.

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