Tango is, without a doubt, found in the music and the embrace. It is a dance of the people – for the people.

I understand that and I only truly learned it and understood it after 18 months of living (and breathing Tango) at various Tango studios in Melbourne and elsewhere.

I also understand, that having good technique only enhances one’s Tango. There is no debating that having better posture and good balance are going to make the dance feel better for both yourself and your partner.

Having “perfect” feet – well, that isn’t so important.

In Tango, we can all understand that the embrace is a hug and that we’re giving our partner a hug that lasts a whole song. However, it has been assumed by some that there is no technique to hugging and people don’t need to learn how to hug.

If students need to learn to walk (and they do), hugging (which is something they do far less than walking) is definitely going to have to be taught. If you think that hugging and walking are easy for Tango students, go and watch a beginner class to see how the majority of students end up walking on bent legs (something they didn’t do before arriving to the class).

Argentina (and most of Latin America and much of Europe) has a ‘Culture of Touching’. Living in a country like Australia that does not have this type of physical interaction leaves many at an ’embrace disadvantage’.

That is why many Latinos mock the hug with its minimal touching.

I have been the recipient of innumerable awkward hugs (in and out of Tango). Hugging may be natural, but it is NOT normal or comfortable for many people.

I have been given crushing hugs, limp hugs, half hugs, and soulless hugs (to name a few).

The truth is, many people DO need to learn how to hug – especially how to give consistent hugs in Tango to friends and strangers alike.

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