Tango Argentino > How to Make the Embrace Comfortable

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

  1. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    It sounds like maybe you are trying to hold your left arm too high. It could also be that your partner is letting you hold her arm up instead of using any of her own strength to hold her own arm up. Of course, if you are holding your arm too high, her arm is tired also, which would make her more likely to just let you take the weight of it.

    Is your hand higher than your shoulder? If so, try lowering your elbow. Your upper arm does not need to be parallel to the floor if you are going for that, and for many (if not most) followers, having it up like that will tire them as well.
    Mladenac and Lilly_of_the_valley like this.
  2. twnkltoz

    twnkltoz Well-Known Member

    That's probably plenty. It's just to help develop some stamina. No you can't switch arm positions... You'll confuse the heck out of your partners. Just keep at it. And note the suggestions about how high you hold them while dancing.
  3. I'm basically just holding it up casually at a right-angle like a rural dweller greeting his neighbor, as in the picture below. Not sure if that's correct or no but I'm sort of averaging out what I see on the dance-floor.

    Country dweller.PNG

    As for what I see at the milonga, it is not exactly helpful as it seems to be so variable...

    Some men sort of prop up their hand lazily like the classroom know-it-all who can't believe he's the only one to be able to answer the teacher's question AGAIN.

    Others have it down and out to the side as if they're switching gears on a stick-shift automobile.

    Still others wave it around like a police officer directing traffic.

    And then there are those who hoist it aloft as if in a mock-Hitler salute.

    So in terms of deriving help from what I observe on the floor, it's worse than useless :)
  4. Lilly_of_the_valley

    Lilly_of_the_valley Well-Known Member

    If your arm looks like the picture, you may try the following adjustments:

    Lower the elbow. So the hand lock is at your partner's eyes level as far as the height is concerned or at your chest pocket level.
    Point the elbow to the floor, not to the side. Relax and lower the shoulder. Hold your arm in place using the back muscles, not the shoulder muscles.

    Take it in, closer to your body. Now it sticks too far out. When you embrace your partner chest to chest, your locked hands should be in the middle, same distance from each of your bodies. Do not pull it in or push it out while you dance.
    The arm and hand should be toned, energized, "present" but not tense.
    Zoopsia59 likes this.
  5. Lilly_of_the_valley

    Lilly_of_the_valley Well-Known Member

    "Some men sort of prop up their hand lazily like the classroom know-it-all who can't believe he's the only one to be able to answer the teacher's question AGAIN."

    That would be the way, I' d say, albeit in a bit more enthusiastic mode. :)
    Zoopsia59 likes this.
  6. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    I agree with everything Lilly said. If your arm and hard are like the picture, it's too high, to forward and too "out". In that picture, the hand is not just above the shoulder, it's above the head! Imagine the strain for a short partner.

    Having your hand above your shoulder could work depending on your height, your partner's height and your strength, but having your ELBOW above your shoulder is going to be WAY too tiring. When I dance with someone raising their arm like that, my own arm gets so tired (and I'm not short!) I give up let them hold it up. I really don't want my hand higher than my head level and it's most comfortable about cheek height (slightly lower than Lilly's suggestion of follower's eye level)

    Technically, you don't really even need that hand for much unless you are doing the sort of moves where you have to prevent (block) the follower from taking the natural step so that you can do something fancy like a back sacada. Some showy dancers raise it because of the way it looks. But as a follower, I'd prefer it were low enough that my shoulder stays down naturally, rather than have to make an effort to keep my shoulder down despite my arm.
  7. twnkltoz

    twnkltoz Well-Known Member

    What Lily and Zoopsia said!
  8. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    What different people do, absolutely does vary a lot, because different people like different things.

    Rather than trying an "average" of the different things you've seen (as that clearly isn't working for you), try copying what you see someone doing, and if it doesn't work, try copying someone else.

    At the end of the day, it doesn't really matter what works for someone else. It matters what works for you, (and your partner).

    Keep trying different things until you find what works for you.
    LadyLeader likes this.
  9. Weird Sister

    Weird Sister Guest

    I was recently advised to (in additon to keeping a "toned" right arm) exert pressure on my partner's shoulder/back with my left hand in order to "balance" the right side of the embrace.

    This...doesn't...seem...right. Or comfortable.

    Is this what you experienced followers are doing?
  10. JohnEm

    JohnEm Well-Known Member

    I look for the comfortable and practical with the usual caveat
    that mine is an in-line close embrace dance
    of constant physical connection.

    The least tiring of the arms is the least stressed and the most
    comfortable for both partners. And toned arms for women
    are unnecessary, or they should be if the dance wasn't taught
    so strangely with so many weird ideas. So unfortunately your
    stressed left arm may be necessary, or at least helpful, according
    to the style and method being taught to both partners.

    For me, keep your shoulders back and place your left arm naturally
    over my right shoulder and across my upper back only as far as is
    comfortable for you. Carry some of its weight but unstressed.

    A toned right arm is not necessary either, in fact I prefer
    both partners to drop the elbow down, keeping them in towards
    their respective bodies with the upper arm pointing upwards
    and the hands clasping unstressed. This way the weight of the
    arms are carried almost as naturally as in normal life - they
    don't project outside the embrace, they don't threaten others
    and the tendency to paddle or use them for "moves" is removed.
    All of this embrace concentrates the connection onto the chests.

    It's perhaps worth mentioning too that stressing arms inevitably
    locks the upper body, partly removing internal mobility and the
    ability to twist, thus blocking what some people call the spiral energy
    needed to execute the dissociated close embrace turns necessary
    on crowded floors.
    Zoopsia59 likes this.
  11. twnkltoz

    twnkltoz Well-Known Member

    I agree with you. That sounds like it would be uncomfortable for the leader and tiring for you.
  12. Lilly_of_the_valley

    Lilly_of_the_valley Well-Known Member

    There is a lot of risk for words to be understood incorrectly. Even the word "toned" may be understood as "having some tension" or "applying pressure".
    I like to say, there should be "presence" in the embrace... One shall not feel he or she is dancing with a thin air, but with a person in flesh and blood... but what it really means, and how that effect is physically achieved? Hard to explain in words over the internet.
    So I would not dwell much on that words. Try and pick what works for you and pleases your partner(s)
  13. oldtangoguy

    oldtangoguy Active Member

    Huh? I dance with a liquid embrace and it certainly wouldn't confuse me.
  14. Lilly_of_the_valley

    Lilly_of_the_valley Well-Known Member

    Well, if my partner in the middle of the dance suddenly took his right arm off my back and started grabbing my left hand, taking it off his shoulders and raising it in the air instead, I would think something is wrong, he is hurting or something like that...
  15. rain_dog

    rain_dog Active Member

    They're talking about making the closed side the open and vice-versa, which is usually only done when switching the lead and follow roles. I'm not sure what a 'liquid' embrace is, but I've never seen anyone actually do that and *not* switch roles.
  16. oldtangoguy

    oldtangoguy Active Member

    Ooops. I see that you're right. I thought they were talking about switching the follow's left hand position. I need to read more carefully!!
  17. koinzell

    koinzell Active Member

    The left hand doesn't really matter as long as it's in one of the two positions in the pictures LadyLeader posted. What's more important to me is that the follower "puts her back in my hand."
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2015
  18. Gina Tangoes

    Gina Tangoes New Member

    I generally wrap the left arm loosely around his shoulders/neck
    ArbeeNYC likes this.
  19. ArbeeNYC

    ArbeeNYC Member

    Personally, I like it wrapped around and across my shoulders. Much prefer that to catching my right arm in a vice with her armpit. Dislike that a great deal. Even if her left arm points down a little, I prefer the wraparound position. Monica Paz is a big proponent of this style and I'm in agreement with her. For her, it's a defining feature of tango.
  20. ArbeeNYC

    ArbeeNYC Member

    Yes, for me the couples in the top photo represent my own preference no matter how crowded the pista is.
    LadyLeader likes this.

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