Generally, before even taking a step, an experienced leader or follower can tell how good their partner is and how enjoyable the dance will be just by the “feel” of the embrace. However, beginners seldom realize how important the embrace is and don’t know how to create that “luscious” feeling. The diagram shows a cross section of three possible embraces:
- In the first, (sometimes called “apilado”) the shoulders are nearly parallel. This embrace can be quite comfortable and is favored by many excellent milonguero style dancers. Usually the follower’s head will be looking or pointed over the leaders right shoulder.
- The second illustration shows the partners parallel and offset to one another. Unfortunately, I often find women assume this position and it is most uncomfortable. The right side of the woman’s chest will make contact, but not her left side. In this embrace it is extremely difficult for the leader’s right arm to embrace the follower. In particular notice the gap that exists between the leader’s wrist and the followers body. This type of embrace has the least amount of physical contact between bodies and arms.
- The third illustration (“V-shape”) is by far my favorite. The follower’s head can turn left, right or be straight ahead. It is the easiest position for my right arm to embrace the follower. And because we are so close and have the most contact area, at the end of the song often I can literally feel her heart beating–a most beautiful and astounding feeling of connection. The down side of this embrace is that because our upper torsos are pointing in slightly different directions, we both must use a bit of disassociation or rotation of our upper torso relative to our hips.