Armpit or Hug? How About a Hug?


It’s a weird title.  One thing I remember vividly from my rhetoric class (Public speaking, ugh!) is to try to hook your audience.  For writing, that means the title has to be somewhat creative or just plain odd.  Um, well, did it get your attention?  If it did, please know that I will not be talking about armpits or hugs explicitly.  Rather, it’s about two kinds of Tango.  They are Ballroom Tango and Tango Argentino.  My training is mostly in the former, though I have a little bit of experience in the latter.  Recently, I have been receiving emails from a meet-up organization that I signed up for.  My hope is that I will find some friends my age to dance and hang out with.  Oh, and finding a man who dances would just be the icing on the cake ;).  Anyway, a university not too far from where I live is offering beginner to pre-intermediate Tango Argentino lessons every Tuesday this summer from 7:30-8:30 pm.  I find this deliciously tantalizing, but I am still on the fence about whether I should go or not.

Before I get into the reason behind my curiosity, I need to be blunt.  The main reason I am considering not going is because it would take me outside my comfort zone.  That comfort zone includes Bronze variety classes at my own studio on Tuesdays that conflict, which means that when they end, the Tango lessons would begin.  Another important and more personal reason is that I do not know the area well.  Even with a GPS, I have a tendency to lose my bearings and get quite flustered.  I’ve already gotten lost in the area once.  The building I was going to had no parking available.  It took me around half an hour of walking in the muggy heat before I made it back to my car.  With my studio, well, I already know how to get there.  Yeah, those are my reasons, as flimsy as they may be.  But, perhaps my curiosity will nudge me out of my comfort zone.  There is a vague something about Tango Argentino that makes it so alluring.  It is also fairly new to me and that is part of the appeal.

There are noticeable differences between the two, and I hope clearing these up will help y’all understand the, dare I say, seductive appeal of Tango Argentino.  First, is Ballroom Tango.  It is the “armpit” I refer to in the title.  I call it such because proper hold involves the follow hooking her left hand under the lead’s arm near the armpit.  This really, really embarrassed me when I first started getting into the technical side of this dance.  It didn’t really help that my first teacher, Victor, teased me by exclaiming “Hey, that tickles!” as I was trying to adjust my arm.  It’s basic rhythm is slow-slow-quick-quick-slow.  Don’t quote me on this, but I believe Ballroom Tango is primarily a competitive dance that isn’t danced socially that often.  Tango Argentino is what José called “all club”, and it is the “hug” I refer to in the title.  It’s probably the Tango one will dance should one go to the clubs.  Unlike its ballroom counterpart, its danced heavily upon musical interpretation.  Whether you go slow or quick depends on the lead.  Again, don’t quote me on this.  I’m just telling y’all what I think I remember.  The hold is not called a hold at all.  In fact, it is called the “embrace”.  Have you ever given or received one of those awkward side-hugs?  The embrace is sort of like that.  It’s meant to be danced extremely close.  You may even see dancers touching foreheads as they dance.  As for its history, it’s a bit racy.  According to Tommy, Tango Argentino was a form of physical interaction between the gauchos, cowboys, and the women in the bordellos, the brothels.  That certainly explains the leg-hooks and close contact.  Sure, Ballroom Tango has some leg-hooks and close contact, but I wouldn’t call it a prominent characteristic.

I will admit that the racy side is part of the appeal of Tango Argentino for me, but I’d say most of my desire to learn it stems from the same reasons I like dancing Rumba.  As an actress, I want to draw you in, make you think I’m really passionately in love with my dance partner.  Then, the curtain closes, and you’re left wondering whether it was real or not.  Of course, it wasn’t.  But, the fact that you thought it was for a fleeting moment makes it all worth it for me.  I’d like to end by sharing two songs that I think are excellent for Tango Argentino.

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