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Frequently Asked Question The "Ask Shahrukh" Archives

These will be populated mostly with your Tango-related questions, so go ahead and ask one now! Categories include Dancing, Music, Etiquette and Lifestyle.

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Tango Dancing

Q. What is the so-called "Close Embrace" or "Milonguero Style" of Tango dancing?

A. It is difficult to find a good explanation of what Close Embrace or Milonguero Style Tango really means, so let me try.

There are really at least four separate concepts that people often refer to when they talk about this:

  1. A body position between partners where their upper torsos are in contact. This permits a very strong yet very subtle communication between partners that looks and feels good when done correctly. (It can initially feel difficult or awkward because you don't have as much space between partners, but in my Milonguero Style class we will learn to adjust to this quickly.)
  2. A set of figures that are more commonly done in this style, and adaptation of other figures to this style. Some figures (e.g., the ocho cortado) really are designed for the "close embrace" style. Others like giros and ochos need to be adapted and feel quite different. Yet others like back sacadas simply are not done in the "close embrace" position.
  3. A type of very rhythmic music (exemplified by Biagi and D'Arienzo, and particularly popular in the early-to-mid 1940s) that fits very well with this style of dancing, and consequently the very strongly rhythmic movement associated with this style of dancing.
  4. A style of dancing that permits for very compact movement when necessary (e.g., on a crowded dance floor). This is partially a result of the closer body position and the choice of figures, but also refers to how they are used in navigation.

The words "Close Embrace" literally just refers to the body position, which really is the way almost everyone dances in Buenos Aires, to all types of Tango music. "Milonguero Style" is a much looser term really referring to some combination of all four things (the name reflecting a perceived preference or style of the milongueros or traditional Tango dancers from the 40s-50s). But regardless of ones age, it is considered a compliment (especially for a non-Argentine) to be called a milonguero by Tango dancers in Buenos Aires.

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