Argentine Tango is very often described as “walking together in an embrace, following the sound of the music…”
This means the embrace is one of the most important things when we are dancing Tango.
Actually the embrace can influence strongly whether we feel well and comfortable dancing together, and whether we have freedom to move or are blocking each others movements.
Okay, here we go.
For the gentlemen:
You want to embrace your lady, making her feel nice and comfortable.
You are NOT supposed to squeeze your dance partner until her ribcage breaks. Your arm is not a vise!
You need to provide a secure but gentle hold for your partner with your right arm. She must be able to move freely within your embrace.
Never block the ladies possibility to move, unless you really want to stop her.
Specially when she performs ochos or a molineta it can cause her heavy back pain and even hurt her back if you hold her to tight, thus forcing her to twist her body completely unnaturally.
Of course you make it also difficult for her to stand stable in her axis if you hold her to tight to move.
Your arm shouldn´t be fixed tight to the ladies back. You have to be able to shift your arm on her back all the time.
When you dance in close embrace your arm glides around her back to the lower part of her right shoulder blade, the right side of her ribcage or waist (This depends on your and her height and the way both of you feel comfortable).
When you dance in open embrace your arm glides back towards her left shoulder blade (I prefer this because it provides a good hold) or the back of the left side of her ribcage.
Make sure that your hand rests flatly on the lady´s back. Never press your finger tips into her flesh like an eagle´s talon. You can bet she won´t appreciate it.
For the ladies:
Don´t get your stability from clinging to your partner. Never hang on him like a sack of potatoes. Try to stand stable in your axis.
Your left arm shouldn´t be fixed to your partner´s right arm like a clamp. Instead it should be able to glide smoothly up and down his arm adapting to the embrace.
When you dance in close embrace your arm glides up his arm around his neck, where it rests loosely (Don´t strangle him with an anaconda grip:-).
In case your partner is much taller than you are, don´t try to wrap your arm around his neck, but rest it on the outside of his shoulder or upper arm in a position which is comfortable for you. Remember though your arm needs to rest on his arm loosely without weight. Otherwise you block his movement and it feels awkward for him.
When you dance in open embrace your arm glides back to the outside of his lower arm. Don´t rest on his arm, just hold the contact. Be relaxed and prepared to change to close embrace again.
For both partners:
You should never block your partner. Remember! You dance as a couple. If you block your partner´s freedom and possibilities to dance, you block yourself. You don´t want that, do you?