Tango Argentino > How to Make the Embrace Comfortable

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by Weird Sister, Aug 22, 2015.

  1. Weird Sister

    Weird Sister Guest

    Hey Leaders!

    Where is the most comfortable position for a follower to place her left hand? I read somewhere that some leaders dislike it when followers place a hand on the shoulder blade. If the follower doesn't place any weight on it I'm not sure why would matter. Is simply having an object in that vicinity uncomfortable?
  2. Xenophon

    Xenophon Member

    Personally, I don't like to be touched on or close to my neck, so a hand resting on the top of the shoulder will bother me. But on the shoulder blade is fine.

    The most comfortable place depends on lots of things, not least height differences, and how we're dancing, whether I'm working with different angles of the embrace. Maybe you can get by with a fixed position for some milonguero styles, but I'd expect you to vary the position throughout the dance, to keep the hand in a comfortable place that gives you good feedback.
    Mladenac likes this.
  3. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Close or open embrace?
    I'm trying to imagine how you would get your arm on the man's shoulder blade.
    I'll let you describe it if you care to.
    The "follow's" hand either rests on or near the biceps, or, in close embrace, across the man's shoulder and behind the neck. I have seen some women til the forearm down rather than keep it parallel to the floor. Is that what you mean?
    If that is the case, it seems like any weight would be concentrated at the bend in the arm, rather than spread across a the larger area across the shoulders.

    For me the most important thing is, what feels most comfortable.
    chipi3 and ocean-daughter like this.
  4. twnkltoz

    twnkltoz Well-Known Member

    If the man's arm is low enough, the lady can easily put her hand on his shoulder blade. I often have it there because it's sometimes easier to feel his movements.
  5. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Does anyone complain about it feeling uncomfortable?
  6. twnkltoz

    twnkltoz Well-Known Member

    Not to me. You do have to make sure you don't clamp down and trap the leader's arm, though.
  7. Mladenac

    Mladenac Well-Known Member

    Yes, I do. :)

    And I ask to adjust how it would be comfortable to me. :cool:
  8. LadyLeader

    LadyLeader Active Member

    The elbow sticking out can be unconfortable and even dangerous for the other couples!

    It would be helpful if the follower knows different confortable positions for her left arm elbow. If the leader is pulling in his left arm (on the open side) signaling that the the pista is crowded the follower should be able to change her left arm so it is somewhere between his shoulder and neck line.

    2015 Seoul elbow 2.JPG

    This pista below is from Nordic and in the milonga I was in situation where the left side of my neck was tickled by one couple and on the right side there was another couple tickling. I felt quite squeezed! :)

    2015 Seoul elbow 5.JPG

    It is very difficult/impossible for a leader to have control on the turning radius needed when the elbow is out; it is a space demanding abrazo style.
  9. TomTango

    TomTango Active Member

    I like the middle of the back, directly opposite from your chest connection point. I know that's not always practical with some height differences though.
  10. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    and you will definitely get a don't like from this taller than average with wider than average shoulders guy.
  11. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    Unfortunately, I can't give you a direct answer to this question, as it depends on many factors. Also, even if I could answer it directly, that wouldn't necessarily be the right answer for another leader.
    (It's sort of like asking what's the most comfortable kind of mattress.
    Answer: It depends on the person).

    I can say that I agree with this post^, as I don't like my arm being trapped.
    Gssh and Mladenac like this.
  12. twnkltoz

    twnkltoz Well-Known Member

    That's why I said you have to make sure you DON'T clamp down and trap his arm.
  13. Gssh

    Gssh Well-Known Member

    Pretty much this. It depends on the ratio of heights, chosen style, habits, personal preferences. There are some things that very few people like , e.g. having your arm trapped against your body, being pulled or pushed out of alignment. In the end it has much less to do with where the hand/arm/embrace is positioned, but with being sensitive to the leaders movement and not having an embrace that constrains/blocks it. I have had very comfortable and very uncomfortable embraces that looked basically identical - in general sensitivity and fluidity is a much bigger deal than where the hand is exactly.
    Weird Sister and Mladenac like this.
  14. newbie

    newbie Well-Known Member

    Between shoulder and biceps muscle. At this point the leader's arm is narrow. If the embrace becomes closer, the hand travels along the shoulder and lands on the nape.
    The diagonal placement, with the hand pressing on the spine of the leader, is a torture. Ok it's ancient, ok it was re-hyped by Geraldine herserlf and then it contaminated every follower in the world, but it's still combining all the possible concerns of a follower's embrace.
  15. twnkltoz

    twnkltoz Well-Known Member

    From a leader's perspective, I rarely notice where the followers hand/arm is, unless she has a death grip on me, is leaning on me, etc. But again, that's an entirely different problem than hand placement.
  16. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    You aren't going to get a "right" answer.

    I recently went to a practica where a leader who was at a good height for me asked me to NOT have my arm on top of his shoulders or around his neck milonguero style, immediately follower by a leader who asked me to move my arm up to being there despite the fact that he was nearly a foot taller than me and there was no way for me to do that comfortably with him.

    I know a male teacher who instructs his female students to get the arm on the shoulder and around the neck in that milonguero style, but doesn't dance himself in a way that makes that practical.

    I've had a teacher say that my default arm position (having my elbow pointed down and my hand on the outside of his bicep, or sneaking around to the back of it, making my lower arm in contact with his upper arm with no squeezing) left him feeling "un-embraced" and asked me to move my hand around so that it was more on his back and shoulder blade.

    Then I had social leaders ask me NOT to do that.

    Frankly, in at least 1/2 the cases, the leaders asking me to change were not doing so because it was uncomfortable for them but because of stylistic preferences. One did mention discomfort from my arm around his neck and I respect that. But sometimes it's just the leader "correcting" the follower for being "wrong" when he doesn't want to do his share of adapting to a partner.

    As long as the follower isn't restricting the leader's movements, causing him pain, or restricting her own ability to flex the embrace when led, her left arm position should be where she needs it to maintain her own posture & technique, and follow properly. If she has to raise her left shoulder or roll it forward to get her arm around the leader's shoulder and neck, she probably should do something else. If she can't lower her arm without clamping his, she needs to figure out how to.

    But leaders also need to realize that unless it creates a problem, the follower shouldn't have to place her arm based on how someone told him she was "supposed to" based on a style.
    oldtangoguy, Mladenac, Gssh and 2 others like this.
  17. I find the embrace uncomfortable too but it has nothing to do with the way the woman is grasping me, that is perfectly fine actually.

    My difficulty is that constantly holding my own arms in a fixed and raised position is very arduous and draining. I think it's just a matter of endurance though... maybe I don't have the muscle tone yet as I haven't been doing it long.

    Kind of like when you're not used to having your knees bent for hours at a time as a beginner skier, it can get a bit stiff and tired in the thighs, but once you've been doing it a few years you don't even notice.
  18. twnkltoz

    twnkltoz Well-Known Member

    Absolutely. It takes time for your muscles to get used to holding your arms up. Make sure you're not tense or stiff, as that will tire you out more quickly and is bad technique to boot. You can work on it on the days you don't dance by holding your arms in position with some kind of weight in your hand.
    All Sales Are Final likes this.
  19. Thanks twnkltoz for the weights suggestion, I am doing 30 minutes per day now using a 12lb weight in each hand. Do you think that is enough?

    In terms of the actual execution of the embrace, i.e. at a milonga or practica, do you think it will be acceptable to switch out sides occasionally? I notice that all men dance with their right hand around the woman and left hand up in the air clasping her right, and the women vice versa, and indeed that is how I was taught too… but if I’m getting stiff is it okay to swap around for a bit so I have my right hand in the air and left hand around the woman, before changing back again later? I’m sure that would make it much easier.

    Maybe if we did it in the short break between songs it wouldn’t interrupt anything and would make the tanda go by easier? Comments appreciated.
  20. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    No, unless she also leads, and you want her to start leading.

    It sounds like you need to adjust how you are doing your embrace, so the switching would not be a need (or even a consideration).

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