What is more important in tango than the embrace? Yes, the music is first but the embrace is an all-powerful close second. It's not only how it makes us feel, and our partner, and helps us dance better, but it has curative powers! The magical, mystical, wonderful embrace--almost holy.
Sometimes this amazing action is taken too casually, especially tango dancers from other cultures. Ok, grab each other, and get dancing as quickly as possible. Tango time is a-wastin'! In Argentina, couples in the milonga know there is all the time in the world to dance, to enjoy their tango, to embrace heart to heart; there is no rush. The embrace is the first connection of the couple, and from the very first touch, they know if the dance will be a good one or not. The embrace is foreplay, as it were, to the main event.
But do you know that how we embrace our partner can completely change how we look on the dance floor?
Here is an example of a tall lady who thought her long arm was better low on the man's back, and it's a popular style these days. But look at the difference: the photo below shows her holding down the man's arm and preventing him from using his upper arm to lead. On the right it is a more natural embrace--as one would embrace a loved one--her posture is better, and both have freedom to move within the embrace.
Here is a petite lady who thought her arm couldn't comfortably wrap around the man's shoulders, but look! She even appears taller!
This lady is clutching her partner for dear life, but has turned her head aside as if he smells bad. (I blurred her face.) You can't see her elbow in the photo, but it's lethally pointed at the couple dancing next to them. This embrace does not appear as if they "love" each other, or even if they like each other.
This pretty lady is hiding her face and perhaps even leaning on her partner. She looks like she's enjoying herself though, but has forgotten good posture. Heads up, folks!
Whew, this grip with spread fingers makes this tanguera look like she wishes she were leading--and maybe she is! See how she is forcing her partner's right arm down? He can't have his arm up high enough around her back to lead her properly, and God forbid she's leaning on him. I've seen worse, though, with the lady's left arm almost in the man's back pocket; looking for his wallet, maybe, like the early Canyengue days?
...it is the touching of one with another that we become most fully ourselves. --Marilyn Sewell, b. 1941, American minister