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Argentine Wraps

The Argentine Enganche is actually a misnomer of a word. “Wrap” is the Anglo-American version, whereas the Spanish cognate is actually “Enganche”.  The words Themselves are somewhat telling, in either language. How’s that ? In the English version something is going to wrap something. In the Spanish something or someone is going to be Enganche’d. The English version refers to one very specific thing, while the Spanish version is a much broader definition. Much broader. This is one of those pieces of Argentine Tango vocabulary where it rightfully classifies as ‘cool’, seemingly ‘intricate’, and definitely worth doing once or twice as spice or accent but certainly not an entire dance filled with them (ahem, hint, hint, hint). That said, let’s talk about the Argentine Enganche and in specific the Argentine Wrap!

What is an Argentine Enganche ? The Enganche is a family of tango movements, and the Argentine Wrap is a limited subset of the Enganche that we want to explore. An Enganche can be but is not limited to where the dancer’s free leg, can engage their partner’s free leg or the open space between their legs in a myriad of different ways through either a Gancho, a Ganchito, a Rebound, un Libre Pierna (a free leg) Columpio (swing), or a version of a Sacada, and/or a Wrap in the English sense of the word.  However the Argentine Wrap is a limited subset of the Enganche idea. A bit more specific really, where the Lead, or the Follower, mostly the Follower in this instance, can, and will, ‘wrap’ their free leg around their partner’s standing leg usually from a side step. However a Wrap can be achieved from either back or forward steps as well, however it is slightly more challenging to do so.

The Argentine Wrap is 1 of 4 Displacements that happen in Argentine Tango. The first that this site has talked about is the Argentine Sacada. The next is the Argentine Gancho. Next is the Argentine Boleo (for Lead or Follow). And the very last is the Argentine Wrap (or Enganche). Displacement ? What’s that ? Meaning that the Free leg will either drift away as a result of an invasion as in the case of an invasive step. By default if someone steps into you, you’re going to step backwards or away from them. There are 3 possible responses to this invasive step. 1.) A displacement. 2.) A Default Resolution. and 3.) A Learned Resolution. The video above unfortunately doesn’t make a distinction between 2 and 3. The one that we’re after is #3. A Default Resolution is one that has been developed by the dancer as their goto behavior. In the video above it’s where the Follower allows their leg to go back but they as a result of the invasion allow it to swing but their default training know that that’s a less than desirable thing so they bring it to closure or collection and allow their body to turn as a result. 

So let’s get started. We have a lot of ground to cover concerning The Argentine Wrap!

Difficulty Rating:   (3 / 5)

From A Following Perspective this is learned vocabulary for you no matter which version or idea you’re doing (Enganche or Wrap). This is not something you are going to do by default. The reality is that you must be taught how to Wrap and how to Enganche. What to listen (feel) for, how to respond at the beginning, during the middle, and at the end. By default you will displace your leg, or take it away from the Lead, as a result of what the lead will invite you to do. Your first response is the safest one, to go away. The wrap on the other hand, requests of you to do something else, and that’s where we need to learn the proper response. So let’s focus on just the Wrapping component itself.

To be clear and to get this into your head before we go any further: The Wrap is always, always, always, always, always your choice! Not the Lead’s. Got it. Say it out loud: “The wrap is my choice”.  No matter what some Lead tells you to do that you’re expected to them. That’s absolute bullshit. Put simply: If you do not feel safe, if you do not feel taken care of by the lead that you’re dancing with, then you know what ? Don’t go there. Just don’t. The right and proper thing to do here is the displace your leg, meaning to allow you leg to drift away from the Lead’s invitation! 

That said, probably the most difficult thing for you is the invasion itself on the typical side step that’s led. The rest for you is a piece of cake. In a lot of ways, if this is done right, this is very similar to the Follower’s Molinete. It’s Forward, Side, and then Back. There’s just a few things that make that side step slightly more challenging. Below are a few things to keep your mind:

The ‘Circular’ Side Step: The side step is around your lead, not away.

The ‘Free’ Leg: The resulting Free leg,  is being requested to ‘wrap’ around the lead’s leg, deeply and fully. You’ve got to get in there. You can’t be dainty about this one. It’s the fleshy part of your thigh wrapped knee deep to the fleshy part of your lead’s thigh. And being ‘dainty’ about touching the inner part of the lead’s leg doesn’t work here. In short, you’ve got to get all up in the lead’s business. Don’t be shy about this. Get in there.

The Time Sensitive Part: The exit from the wrap is time sensitive. Meaning that if you get in and out quickly without listening to the speed of what’s been led, then things look a little choppy. Or if it’s the polar opposite, if the Lead’s speed is very quick, and you’re moving as though you were stuck in molasses, then we have a slight problem. So we’re always looking to match the speed of the lead AND the music! That’s a tall order.

Nine times out of Ten, you’re going to end the common form of the Wrap on your back step. And that means thinking of the Back Step as if it were an Ocho, and that’s because it is one. So technically if you execute a Wrap the right way, you should end up doing a full 360!

The Free Leg Automatic Wrap: There’s another type of Wrap that happens for the Follower. This Wrap, however, is where the Follower assumes that because their Free Leg is swinging free, that it is meant to Wrap. They’ve been taught this shall we say ‘less-than-desirable’ leads who are used to flinging them around. This is not something you want to engage in. If you’ve been shown this, or taught this, it’s not wrong…it’s just less than desirable behavior. Put simply, there’s no reason for that leg to swing freely like that unless you’re specifically been led to a Volcada, and the Argentine Wrap does not by any stretch of reality resemble an Argentine Volcada. So in short, keep your legs together!

The Older Milongueras: There’s a story that is often told to younger women by the older women, that you don’t open your legs to a man that isn’t your husband. And the wrap breaks that conventional thinking. Which is one reason why until just a few decades ago, the Wrap was viewed as shall we say, scandalous Follower behavior. Thankfully the mores of the day have changed, and things are a bit more relaxed. 🙂

One More Thing: There’s only one reason for you to Wrap, and one reason only. Just because a Lead sticks their leg between your legs is no reason for you Wrap your legs around them! No. Poor form. There’s a reason why this happens. And that reason has everything to do with rotation. If there’s no upper body rotation, there’s no wrap! 🙂

From a Leading Perspective again focusing on just the Argentine Wrap and not the Enganche group as a whole, this is accent or spice vocabulary. Don’t get all (no pun intended) wrapped up in doing them. This is clearly vocabulary you use sporadically, and very sparingly at that! That said, let’s dive into 5 things you do not want to do here.

However before we get there, because some of you only read your section instead of both! It’s important to point out to you that the Argentine Wrap is always, always, always, always, always the Follower’s choice. Which is to say that just because you stick your leg in there does not make it so that the Follower MUST wrap their leg around yours. No! Not by any stretch of the imagination. It is always the Follower’s choice to Wrap their legs around yours. So don’t get all persnickety with them if they don’t. You lead it once, and let it go. If it goes well, smile.

Now to the 5 things You Want to Avoid:

Learned Vocabulary: This is ‘learned’ vocabulary, meaning that the Follower must be taught or trained how to respond appropriately, it’s not something they’re going to do by default! So in other words, you do not want to do this with a beginner Follower! This is one of those pieces of vocabulary that you should not lead on a/with a beginner dancer. Major No-no! Not ever. They need a whole bunch of stuff at the beginning of the curve of their dance and this, as much fun as it can be, is not one of them! So that’s a “no” to the Argentine Wrap with the beginner dancer! Are we clear ? 🙂

You’re an Unsafe Lead: You’re not being safe with them, and you’re not taking care of them, and they’ve opted not engage in this with you for safety reasons.

You’ve Gone Too Deep:  Your invasion step is too deep, and therefore they will displace by default. This can also be seen as being a little too creepy. And trust that you don’t want any part of that!

You’ve Gone Too Shallow: Your invasion step is too shallow, and therefore there’s nothing to Wrap! This means that the Follower has to infer what’s being asked of them in any of the 4 common Wraps.

You’re Not Leading Disassociation:  There’s no upper body rotation, and thereby no indication to ‘Wrap’.

Your Embrace is too Compressive: This should be self evident, but a bit more fleshed out here is that you want to create space with your arms, not compress or restrict the Follower’s motion in any way, shape, or form with your arms. Tsk, tsk, tsk! Doing so, make it very hard for the Follower to ‘follow’ you!

A Positive Aspect: Having said those things, there are major positives to using an Argentine Wrap. One of them is that it is a great way to transition from Open Embrace into Close Embrace and vice versa. This is a transitionary step, one that can and should open a Tango Door for you: The Fluid Embrace Construct. A Fluid Embrace ? In the modern idea of Argentine Tango this idea has come up in recent years, as a way to incorporate more vocabulary choices that seemingly break the Close Embrace idea. The Fluid Embrace opens that doorway and allows for the inclusion of other ideas that allows for the embrace to change based on the vocabulary being executed, and the Argentine Wrap is one doorway that we can safely (to a degree) walk through to that place of the Fluid Embrace dancing idea.

From a Dancing Perspective the Argentine Wrap/Enganche is easily one of the more intricate looking and can be an elegant thing to do. However, typically what happens that it is poorly executed by the lead squeezing the living daylights out of their Followers, and flinging them around through the Wrap. We don’t want this. Not by stretch of the imagination. When executed properly the Wrap can be a very fluid expression of the music. To be fair, the Wrap can be also be a little scary for some people. It’s rightfully going to freak them out for a variety of reasons. So in short we want to use this stuff sparingly. Carefully. And then here’s the hard part, let it go. It’s accent vocabulary that works really well with the ‘Long Stringy’ notes of say late Di Sarli, Caló, or Pugliese. However once it’s used, let it go and get right back to dancing. It’s spice. A surprise. Let it be that and nothing more.

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About The Video. This video comes in at 31m:49s in length in 18 Sections. Both lead and follower technique is combined and integrated in the video.

Section 1 – Introduction – 00:01:46
Section 2 – 5 Points of Follower Technique – 00:01:50
Section 3 – Beginning Lead Technique – 00:02:18
Section 4 – Lead and Follower Technique Together – 00:01:31
Section 5 – The Closed Inside Wrap – 00:01:29
Section 6 – The Closed Outside Wrap – 00:01:19
Section 7 – 5 The Practice Embrace – 00:01:26
Section 8 – The Open Side Outside Wrap – 00:00:25
Section 9 – Open Side Inside Wrap – 00:00:21
Section 10 – Three Lead Errors Detailed – 00:01:54
Section 11 – The Follower’s Choice – 00:02:36
Section 12 – The Back Sacada Wrap Option – 00:02:03,
Section 13 – Wrap Review – 00:02:35
Section 14 – The Double Wrap – 00:01:39
Section 15 – The Close Embrace Wrap – 00:01:20
Section 16 – The Follower’s Choice – 00:02:36
Section 17 – The Flashy Wrap – 00:03:37
Section 18/End – Closure/Practice – 00:01:41.

this video can be purchased through the tango topics store 🙂

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