Left arm of the leader in tango

Luca Csatai has written a great article about the recommended height of the tango shoes. In my opinion, all tangueras should read this before committing to buy tango shoes. Luca is not only a tango DJ but a true dancer too – perhaps due to her previous experience in folk-dancing – thus her opinion matters!

Csatai Luca

photo: Kinga Lakner

In her article she touches a sensitive topic – the leaders’ arm position in tango! We are looking forward to hear your comments on the topic!

What is this tango-elbow?

I don’t think of myself as a great master of tango, especially not when it comes to technique. Most of my knowledge was gained through experience (thank you boys for not letting me sit! :) ).
But something does not let me rest.. Ever since Judit Somos pointed out at the Noches de Hungria the amount of men dancing with their left elbows pointing outwards here in Europe I can’t help but notice it! As opposed to Buenos Aires many Europeans (mainly Italians I believe) dance with such a position. Of course, I have danced with partners like that but it never occurred to me that it could be a widespread phenomenon. Endre said “this is a style – for example Gaston Torelli dances like this”, and even Carlitos since he has partnered up with Noelia.

Style or mistake, that is the question…

Here’s what I think – this is not a style but a mistake, intentional or not, the result is the same. Many great dancers hold their arms like this – elbow pointing out – even some of my favourite ones; but they are great despite of the arm position, not because of it! When a men points his elbow out, the only way to take his hand is if we bend our wrist back – which is very uncomfortable after a while. And if they add a twist to their wrist, in order to lead with it, using force… well the best I can do is to relax my own arm as much as possible in order to relieve pain. This, from leader point of view is counter productive as it is quite difficult to lead someone with a dead-fish arm…

And yes, I agree, it does make you look like a macho, especially if you throw in a posh watch  – but dear boys, please don’t forget that this technique forces our hand into an unnatural, uncomfortable position which is baaad for us!

Comfort first

In a comfortable position hands and arms form a continuing line which is not broken in the wrist. Turning your palms inwards results in uncomfortable compensation on the part of the follower, turning their hand outwards. Lift my arm higher than my nose and I will feel as if i was being stretched, to grow taller, and my fingers will be numb throughout the dance as a result of the lack of blood supply… Seriously!

Stage-tango, shows and performances form an other genre where the role of comfort is sacrificed for the exaggerated, intensive movements. My views reflect social dancing.

I have compiled some pictures showing wrist-breaking and comfortable arm positions. Look at the girls’ wrists, the pictures speak for themselves.

Examples of good positions:

argentin tango jo kar1

good 1

argentin tango jo kar2

good 2

argentin tango jo kar3

good 3

argentin tango jo kar4

good 4

argentin tango jo kar5

good 5

Wrist-breaking & bad arm positions:

argentin tango rossz kar1

bad 1

argentin tango rossz kar2

bad 2

argentin tango rossz kar3

bad 3

argentin tango rossz kar4

bad 4

argentin tango rossz kar5

bad 5

Girls and boys, what do you think? Does this bother you too? Are there any girls that prefer this position? Let us know your views on the topic! :)