The feeling of dancing close embrace tango is totally different from that of dancing open embrace tango. The beautiful music, intimate embrace and rhythmic motion of the dance have a hypnotic effect to the dancers, causing them fall deeply into a state of meditation or dreaming, so heavenly that they don't want to wake up when the tanda ends. In close embrace tango, the male partner feels his female partner’s soft, springy, flexible, sensitive and responsive body. She surrenders to him, melts in his arms and becomes an inseparable part of him. Whatever he does, she follows intuitively. As he leads her dancing, her body twists to his left and right, her breasts rub his chest, her muscles relax and tense, her leg entangles with his leg, and her whole body adapts ingeniously and femininely to his changing posture... All these generate a pleasant feeling. He feels a real flesh-and-blood woman. The beauty of her body and her femininity excite him. He enjoys that moment dancing with her because only she as a woman can stir the feelings within him that make him a man - strong, dependable, in charge, and protective - just as only he as a man can stir within her the feelings that she enjoys as a woman. His masculinity, strength, support and protection make her feel loved, safe, and beautiful. In his embrace she returns to her childhood and womanhood again. Only in that moment she can truly feel and enjoy being a woman, as in real life she has to be less. (See Artistic Sublimation and Vulgarism in Tango.) Tango is known as a refuge, and it has to be danced by two people of the opposite sexes to have that effect. When tango is danced by men or women alone, something mysterious and magic is missing, and that to me is anti-tango. I know some people may argue with me about that. But, hey, that’s me. I like women and enjoy a dance that contains the beauty of both masculinity and femininity.
But that is not all. If close embrace tango is physical and sensual, it is also romantic and poetic. No one has depicted this aspect of close embrace tango better than Eugene Grigoryev in his short essay What Is Tango? I want to quote that essay in its entirety here because I myself cannot say it better, and the description of close embrace tango would not be complete without a depiction of this inward, dreamy, soulful and heavenly feeling. The following is the entire quote of Eugene’s masterpiece.
“Tango is more than just a dance or a sequence of steps. It is an expression of our emotions, an inner reflection of who we are and what we experience, a way to channel what we feel through movement. Tango is a language of expressing what we feel through motion, stirred in us by music, in unison with our partner. It comes into your lives in many different ways, as simple interest, a hobby, or a fascination… and ever so slowly it becomes an addiction.
A simple look, a gesture, a smile, an eye contact, his askance to lead, her acceptance to be led, all done without any need of verbal communication. As the music compels them, she comes close to him, they embrace… they feel each other breathe, they feel the passionate song unfold, it flows through their bodies, invigorating them, stirring emotions, which they both share… they can be strangers in real life, but as long as they are in this tango moment, they can be anyone they want… You don't have to know the person or even want to know them. Time ceases to exist during this moment, both dancers are moving to the music, listening for it to tell them what to do… they slow down, pause, accelerate, suspend, all in the moment… almost as being possessed by the music. Outside of this moment is the real world, with its everyday problems, solutions, responsibilities, deadlines… but not here, not now… Now it is only tango, a refuge, a moment of surreal experience of desire, longing… words are not meant to describe it.
The social aspect of milonga is fascinating. It holds anticipation, surprise, heavenly music, moments of contact and separation. The challenge and satisfaction of rhythmically moving in unison with another person is what lures us to Tango. The experience is both physical and surreal. In three minutes of a song, you can experience a rollercoaster of emotions, but you will not experience them alone. For those three minutes there will be a person embracing you, sharing what they are feeling with you… all without a single word being spoken… pure, raw emotions expressed through motion.”