We have heard very experienced Tangueras say they have difficulties following some men – men who are and have been known to be very clear leaders. Within seconds of seeing these women dance (with men other than their significant others) these difficulties can usually be explained. Physically, this type of Tanguera won’t let her head touch her partner’s head, she won’t allow her chest to melt onto his, and she will be looking all around the room rather than letting her eyes glaze over or close. Emotionally… well emotionally we can’t say for sure, but it is apparent that she does not want to embrace and connect with the man she is dancing with.
We have pondered and theorized the “whys” of the embrace phobia in North America. There are many explanations and we have spoken about some of them before (here, here, and here)… but one of them surely is the fact that some teachers are actually teaching students that the (close) embrace is only shared with your significant other or those you know well. A limited embrace!? This is crazy! By telling students this, you have eliminated one of the most fundamental (not to mention beautiful) aspects of Tango. We couldn’t even imagine dancing with a milonguero/a (let alone a porteno/a) in a Buenos Aires milonga and thinking, “I do not know you therefore I will only half embrace you.” Traditional social Tango requires a committed and (close) embrace. Teachers who teach otherwise are confused, to say the least.
It is simple. If you cannot embrace and surrender to your partner fully (physically and emotionally), then you are not ready (or truly willing) to dance Tango with that partner.