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A strange tango handshake

A strange tango handshake

‘He has an amazing embrace.’

That’s one of the phrases I kept listening when followers danced with a great partner.

And it is one of the best compliments a man can receive.

After realising this, I got obsessed over one question for years:

How can I make my embrace better?

I have asked this question in private classes, group classes, online classes, and casual conversations.

I have asked professionals and great social dancers.

I have asked followers and leaders.

I won’t share all of them here, but I will share a quick one.

The strange handshake

Have you ever noticed that a handshake feels very weird when one person squeezes the hand a lot less than the other?

This inequality of tension creates a weird sensation.

If you want to remove this weirdness, it helps if you mirror the other person’s choices.

If he shakes hard, you equal it.

If he keeps his elbow stiff, you do the same.

The embrace works in a similar way.

The tension of the muscles affects the embrace.

Feel the muscle tension of your partner’s body as she embrace’s you.

If there is almost no tension do the same.

If there is medium, do the same.

In other words, you need to mirror the tension.

Now, take it a step further.

Pay attention to the hips position of your partner.

Your hips should mirror the position of the hips of the partner to feel more natural.

Now take it one more step further.

Mirror the other person’s axis.

When they really go for a hug then they often lean forward the axis and the hips.

When they just give you the hands, they probably stay with the axis straight.

What to remember:

Next time you dance, pay attention on three elements:

Your partner’s muscle tension, hip orientation and axis inclination.

Mirror these, and see how your embrace starts feeling more comfortable for the other person.


If you feel a bit uncomfortable when you do all these adjustments, this is an indication of two things:

  1. You might need to develop a bit more your understanding of body mechanics.
  2. You might need to understand a few more of the elements of a comfortable embrace.


Stay curious,
The Curious Tanguero