The Left Side of the Embrace

10th September 2010

"Just because I'm employing an Igor and working in a cellar doesn't mean I'm some sort of madman, ha ha ha!" ~ Making Money (Terry Pratchett)


Earlier, in this article, I considered the right side of the embrace and how it can cause the left shoulder to raise, a very common problem in London.

It turns out there's another problem that can also cause this; this time it's on the left side of the embrace.

Stand like an Igor

Stand normally. Now picture an Igor in your mind:

Lean over to your right and let your right arm hang like it's, well, dead. Now hunch up and raise you left shoulder, trying to get it to touch your left ear (or your right ear if you're feeling in a particularly Igor mood!). Bonus points for saying "Yeth Maaaaaaattthter".

There's two important things going on here. First, your right shoulder. It should be completely relaxed. Second, your left shoulder should be tense.

Now, go back to standing normally and raise your left arm out to the side. It'll probably help to do this in front of a mirror.

If you look at the above image, you'll see the shoulder of the arm she's lifted is now higher than the other shoulder.

But if you look at this image:

you see that they're the same height.

And... relax...

"Nothing like a hot bath to ease the tension and think about what's going to happen next." ~ Sarah McLachlan

Wonderful advice, though sadly currently* impractical in London milongas.

What I've noticed in tango is that guys tend to have a lot of tension in their left arm. I don't know, maybe we're worried about the women escaping or something.

Whatever the reason, this tension causes the shoulder to lift as well as the arm (as with the image of the first woman) and that messes up the embrace.

Fortunately the solution lies with Igor. Keep your left shoulder relaxed when you lift your left hand. At first I'd recommend keeping your elbow against your ribs - it's just easier. When you get the hang of that, then gradually let your elbow come away from your ribs.

Combine that with the advice in the previous article and voila! (hopefully)

* You could have done this at the old Tango@33 venue, but sadly it's closed down.

~ Christopher O'Shea, 10th September 2010

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