Tango is, without a doubt, found in the music and the embrace. It is a dance of the people – for the people. We understand that and we only truly learned it and understood it after 8 months of living (and inhaling Tango) in Buenos Aires. We also understand, as people who have danced the majority of their lives, that having good technique only enhances one’s Tango. There is no debating that having better posture and good balance are going to make the dance feel better for both yourself and your partner. Having “perfect” feet – well, that isn’t so important.
In Tango, we can all understand that the embrace is a hug and that we’re giving our partner a hug that lasts a whole song. However, it has been assumed by some that there is no technique to hugging and people don’t need to learn how to hug. If students need to learn to walk (and they do), hugging (which is something they do far less than walking) is definitely going to have to be taught. If you think that hugging and walking are easy for Tango students, go observe a beginner class to see how the majority of students end up walking on bent legs (something they didn’t do before arriving to the class) with their hips and feet leading the way. But this is a topic for another time.
We previously wrote about the “Culture of Touching” that exists in Argentina and how living in a country that does not have this type of physical interaction leaves many at an “embrace disadvantage”. There is a reason that many people mock the North American hug with its minimal touching.
This might be a bit of an exaggeration…
We have been the recipient of innumerable awkward hugs (in and out of Tango). Hugging may be natural, but it is NOT normal or comfortable for many people. We have been given crushing hugs, limp hugs, half hugs, and soulless hugs (to name a few). The truth is, many people DO need to learn how to hug – especially how to give consistent hugs in Tango to friends and strangers alike.