Today’s #Tango Thought 050: Follower’s Left Arm
…Over The Lead’s Right Shoulder ?
You’re going to see this, and quite honestly, from a whole swath of Followers from your run of the mill local social dancer to professional doing this. Is this desirable ? No. Why ? Several reasons. Two of the more common reasons:
1.) There’s no information there. None. Zip. Zilch. Nada. Nothing. Information ? Meaning that as a lead turns to their left or right there’s a wide swath of pre-lead information that is sent throughout the body. However most of that information is located along the one portion of the body where turns are possible: The Spinal Column. And in specific t7, t8, and t9. Those 3 vertebrae are the central point of all the lateral turn information, not to mention the muscles and tendons that are attached to them. The further away from these 3 vertebrae that you are, the more the turn information or pre-lead feels like an ‘echo’. Which means placing your arm around the lead’s shoulder line is a little like using an unplugged kitchen appliance, and about as helpful, or “not so much with that”. The reason is really simple because the lateral turn information, happens but you, as the Follower, hear/feel it about a second behind when it actually happened. There’s a reason why it’s done (2 in fact), one is because it’s what was done ages ago, and second is because every ‘cool’ follower does this. Both of these reasons do not tell you why you should place your arm along and around your lead’s shoulder line. What is the purpose of it ? Answer ? There isn’t one. It’s the visual iconic look of what traditional tango looks like. At one point in time it’s sole purpose was to ‘hang’ on your lead for dear life while they flung you around. However as modern tango has changed – evolved, this embrace construct, bastardized from it’s original construct, is still with us getting in the way of the Follower getting the necessary information that they desperately need.
2.) It’s a body contortion. It’s that simple. You are contorting your body into quite literally being in the lead’s armpit and as a result hanging off the side of their body as though you were an accessory. Meanwhile they’re watching your feet, and the floor, and their head is in the way. And every time you turn, you’re literally racing to catch up with your lead.
To be fair, there are some that will read this and vehemently disagree with it. However, I would like to ask you 2 questions before you launch into said tirade against what seems like some young upstart telling you what’s desirable and not desirable: The first question you already know, 1.) What’s the purpose of this ? And if your answer is ‘connection‘, think again. Connection is a fallacy and illusion that you have in your head. If you mean Physiological contact then 80% of your information contact comes from the body on body contact that can occur. If you mean something else, then please state that in your need to rip me a new one. But understand what you are defending. A visual construct. 2.) Doesn’t that hurt your shoulder ? Answer ? YES! Quite truthfully you have trained yourself after a while to build up a series of muscles to allow you to place your arm there. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a desirable thing. Ideally we don’t want the arm to go above the shoulder line. Further still, that’s work. More work than you need. And the shorter the Follower the more difficult this becomes. So ? Not so much with that.
Just as a side note, if you want more information on this stuff, if this has piqued your curiosity, you can purchase the Embrace Bundle from this website, or register for free and get access to some helpful materials (dated: about 60 videos), and then consider subscribing.
One point of note, a good portion of Follower’s will hear this advice above as blaming the Follower! So the thinking goes, here you have one more male lead teacher/dancer blaming the follower instead of what’s happening for the lead (or so you assume). That you have a Lead that doesn’t Follow (I do, and socially!), doesn’t know diddly about how to Follow (I teach this stuff frequently), hasn’t danced in heels…ever (Not so. I used to own a pair of black velour comme il fauts in my size), and doesn’t take the Lead to task for what’s going on for them! All not true. As evidenced here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here just to name a few. This site, equally points out the issues with both roles, not just one. This stuff is a lot to take in all in one bite. and it’s hard enough with just one role to hear just one piece of the topic when there are multiple issues that need to addressed for that role. This is one small bite. #SocialTango #SocialDance #ArgentineTango #TangoDancing #SocialTango #SocialDance #ArgentineTango #TangoDancing