Tango Argentino > control emotions in close embrace

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by aaah, Dec 20, 2007.

  1. aaah

    aaah Member

    Thanks for the great advise on my previous thread on ageism. I would like to ask your advise on another question that will help me and others to become better Tangueros. How you handle the close embrace emotionally. I do not come from a hugging family but would love to master this style.

    My delemma is two fold.
    1. If dancing with an unattractive partner, I draw away from them and have a hard time being in this close proximity.
    2. If dancing with an attractive partner, I draw away to protect myself form rejection and the appearance of being too eager.

    I have seen very attractive dancing cheek to cheek with very unattractive so I know it is possible to do. How can I change my mindset to make this happen. Is there a particular thought or visualization technique that would help here.
  2. Ampster

    Ampster Active Member

    Forgive my candor.

    You are struggling with a lot of cultural mores that are counter intuitive to your core values and mindset. These are apparent with this post and your previous post. Both deal with prejudices of "old, fat, young, attractive, unattractive, etc." These impediments are obviously holding you back. Furthermore, it is my impression that these things (that are the norm for tango) are counter-inuitive to you, perhaps even having a tinge of immorality?

    This is not a slight to you, nor is it intended in a negative way. On the contrary, it is quite understandable to have such apprehensions. You are basically (in sociological terms) in "Culture Shock."

    This is simply a dance. The hang-ups are in your head. There is no malice to it, nor is it immoral nor lacivious. It does not violate any Judeo-Christian, Victorian, White Anglo-Saxon Protestant, etc., etc., traditions.

    To deal with it, and, if you really want to learn the dance, then immerse yourself into our culture. You simply have to do it, accept it for what it is. It is the norm. You need to let go of your prejudices, your hang-ups and flow with us. Learn the dance for what it is. A beatiful dance between two people sharing the moment.
  3. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    You could realize that "beauty is not skin deep" for a start.

    There are things that make a person beautiful beyond what is physically appealing; and things which render a person hideous no matter how hot they may look. Try looking at people as people, or as dancers, and accepting them for who they are and how the appear.

    Although I can speculate on where I stand on the Attractiveness Rating Scale, I don't know and I don't care to know. I'll dance--cheek to cheek--with attractive men, just as well as men who I wouldn't consider attractive. Old, young, whatever. So long as they don't smell, or have really bad breath, and aren't offensive...it's all good....because I'm looking to DANCE with them, not have a relationship (of whatever duration) with them.

    In a workshop I had over the summer, one of the topics was "Sensuality in Tango." A very interesting topic, actually, even if it made me rather uncomfortable. But one of the things that several presenters stressed is that you HAVE to be completely comfortable and accepting of yourself...and comfortable and accepting of your partner. This is who you, or they are--no thoughts of wishing to be thinner, taller, lighter, darker, smarter, funnier, or any of that. You are what you are, nothing more and nothing less...and the same goes for your partner. Only when you can accept yourself and others, and meet as people on the dance floor, can you really dance and express the sensuality of tango.
  4. spectator

    spectator Member

    Maybe you should stick to open embrace until you feel comfortable with that. Once you get use to normal contact with people you will think nothing of dancing close. Just as many unattractive people are brilliant dancers as beautiful ones are bad. It would definately put me off dancing in close embrace with someone who only did so with the young or pretty girls. It would appear that your motives were not just to dance.
  5. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    Or, take jhpark's advice from another thread--admit your bias and be comfortable with it, and accept the limitations that come from it.

    If you can't bring yourself to dance close with women who are old/ugly/fat, and choose only to dance with the Fine Young Things...fine...just make that decision, be honest about it, and deal with the consequences that come from it.
  6. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    Very, very, OMG VERY true.
  7. Ampster

    Ampster Active Member

    Some of them even evolve into being the known and identified creeps in the Tango community.
  8. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    Yes. And I truly wish the other Tangueras had warned me about two of them in particular.
  9. jennyisdancing

    jennyisdancing Active Member

    True, of course. But I have heard from quite a few men that they took up tango (or other partner dances) primarily to meet women. So I won't fault them for that motive. It just depends where they end up after that.
    I think they tend to divide up into two groups after that: the ones who continue to dance only with the young and pretty, and those who come to love the dance itself and learn to appreciate many kinds of partners.
  10. nucat78

    nucat78 Active Member

    Without getting into a whole sociological / psychological debate, it is a fact that men are more visual than women. Thus men are more attracted to a younger, good looking woman (= higher probability of producing healthier offspring). Men are more likely than women to find pornography stimulating also because of this. So your attractions / revulsions are hardly pathological.

    But I think you need to ask yourself if you're in this to dance or are you in this to pick up chicks or are you in this for a combination of those reasons? Do a little soul searching, accept or revise your motivation(s) and live with the consequences.

    I believe that many women dance for the sake of dance, not to find a mate. Doesn't mean they won't find a mate while dancing but this isn't necessarily Good Times Timmy's meat market. So if you go into a milonga or ballroom with a mind-set of trying to pick somebody up, I think you'll most likely be disappointed.

    Somebody wrote that ballroom dancing is one venue where you can spend hours holding somebody close, looking into their eyes, sweating on each other, and then everybody goes home and sleeps alone.

    BTW, my tango instructor continually reminds us that it's up to the LADY to decide how close an embrace should be. Anything else by the man would be considered rude.

    I'll be quiet now, I promise.
  11. spectator

    spectator Member

    i have never wanted to pick someone up via tango. I can see why some people might but I don't think it is in the spirit of things to use the dancing as an excuse to make physical contact with someone. that is creepy. Most people who want to "meet" someone use the social aspect of taking a class/ going to a party as a way of getting to know people ie having conversations. There is a difference between using dance as an introduction to someone and using it in a more seedy way.
  12. kieronneedscake

    kieronneedscake New Member

    I had to conquer the personal space problem myself, and was helped through it by some very nice ladies who took it upon themselves to help me. It took a while, and I still feel the odd nerve if I find the lady very attractive, but that's called emotions. Being comfortable with one lady rapidly led to being comfortable with most ladies (excluding the grinders).

    Now I will encourage ladies (by positioning myself boldly very near to them) to dance as close as they want, and the closer the better, but never pull them in. If they back off, then duh! Let them.

    Some functional thoughts that might assist you in overcoming your own personal space:

    1) It is easier to lead small and nice things when your partner is close. It is much easier to tell what your partner is doing, and rotary moves are easier because you have less ground to cover.

    2) Focus on her feet and her balance, not yourself, and only spare passing thoughts for what moves you are going to do.

    3) Suck up courage and pretend to be confident. This reassures those around you.
  13. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Long time readers of this Forum have read this story before, but...
    First a bit of background...

    I got to a point in my life where I pretty much had rejected any close dancing, buckle rubbing as it is sometimes called at the country western places. I learned Night Club 2 Step partly because I saw it as "defensive dancing", something to do to slow songs that invovled no body contact.

    When I started taking AT lessons, I had a very sweet instructor, and we learned almost exclusively an open style. One day we were encouraged to try "close embrace", and my instructor moved unexpectedly towards me with her upper body. I flinched backwards. She had no doubt experienced this before (I hope) from other men new to this style, and the close contact that it requires.

    Well, I certainly got over it within a year or two!
    And in my case this went along with emotional healing, as well.

    Your emotions aren't the only thing you have to control in close embrace (wink wink).
    First, it helps to be older rather than younger.
    I always tell myself that this is about dancing (period)
    You should develop a mental check list of things that you are supposed to be doing before you "embrace" your partner. Feet close together, the toes a bit fartehr apart than the heels. Pelvis in a "neutral position? Lift your rib cage. Is your head over your shoulders, over your hips, in line with your knees rather than dropping forward? Is your weight forward as far as it will go? Etc...
    Now bring your weight forward even more to match the pressure you feel when your partner moves her upper body towards you.
    At the moment of contact, you will no doubt be distracted.
    If there is contact below the belt... Um... let's cross that bridge when we have to. (It's usually the result of bad posture.)

    Do you know where your partner's weight is? Left foot or right? Both?
    Job #1 is to know for sure.
    Do you know WHERE her feet are in relation to yours? No fair looking down (which you can't do anyhow).

    "Close embrace" is exactly that. Pulling away is a very common reaction in the US.
    If you want to learn to do it, you will just have to make yourself do it.
    Again, a partner is a partner. It's about dancing. You will probably find that good partners come in all shapes and sizes.
    If you turn out to be anything like me, you'll end up wishing that your partners would give you more energy to work with.
  14. Me

    Me New Member

    I am sorry, but I really don't know how to help you.

    Your question here and on your other thread address very sensitive social and interpersonal issues. They are not dance questions. I could be wrong, but I believe there are few here who can help you with this. I do know of one here who is a counselor and has used this very effectively with his teaching methods. Perhaps he will send you a private message.
  15. etp777

    etp777 Active Member

    This is definitely anb emotgional/personal question, not a dance question, and as such, I don't have any good advice. I did wnat to respond though to say you're not alone in this, and it's not even just something new dancers feel, I've been at this over a year now and still have issues with it. ANd it's still an emotional/personal problem. :)
  16. jennyisdancing

    jennyisdancing Active Member


    True though. Even though I'm a single woman, I don't go to a dance wanting/expecting to find a date or get picked up. It's the opposite - I enjoy being able to dance and interact with men without feeling hit on, or pressured in any way. I enjoy dancing for its own sake. Not saying I rule out the idea of dating someone I meet through dancing. I just don't want to feel like I'm walking into a 'singles bar' atmosphere.
  17. newbie

    newbie Well-Known Member

    Don't worry too much, after a while you won't notice such things as attractive/unattractive, you'll only feel you're embracing a dancing entity.
  18. aaah

    aaah Member

    great words thank you. I will do my best to immerse myself in the norms of tango as I do aspire to master this beautiful dance.
  19. aaah

    aaah Member

    Thanks for sharing this, I will use it on my journey to getting some tango craft.
  20. aaah

    aaah Member

    I am fine in open just uncomfortable in closed. I never go to closed rather the follows sometimes assume it and I don't resist. I would like to be better at this though.

    Oh quite the opposite I mainly dance with the follows who are not "young and pretty" girls..

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