I recently got back from a five weeks trip to Buenos Aires, San Juan and other places in Argentina and I am still trying to get my head together and catch up on the lack of sleep.It seems like every time I go to Argentina I discover the country for the first time again. I am back with a new perspective and feeling changed. That is how I know it is been a worthwhile trip.Out of many notable discoveries, two experiences are deeply forged in my memories: crossing the Andes back and forth on this trip for the first time (which I would do again in a heart beat) and the visit to the province of San Juan which has an up and vibrant tango community and the most amazing people.

I would like to share some of the important discoveries I have made. Here is a collection of thoughts and lessons about the embrace that have been evolving as I progress in my tango journey.


There are so many things I remember from the milongas, practicas, classes and all the people I met. Some are interesting, some funny, some dramatic, some annoying, some enlightening but the thing that keeps coming back is the embrace. How the most memorable moments are found in the embrace. The embrace creates a connection that is deeper than the usual casual encounter. And I believe it is the most important element of Argentine Tango. The embrace is what makes it or breaks it. That being said, I noticed that some people are particularly aware of its importance,while others are oblivious to it or rather choose to ignore it. For me the difference is clear in the way it feels. I believe there are two kinds of dancers (these are not gender specific):

The dancers that dance for themselves:

  • The embrace is not the main focus

  • They prioritize figures over the walk (and the music)

  • You can often see them having eye contact with other people while dancing

  • They LOVE ornaments and giros

  • The pauses are not filled and often rushed

  • Your attention will be pulled toward them most of the time rather than the couple or both dancers

  • They often overpower the orchestra

The dancer that dance for their partner:

  • The embrace is the main focus

  • They let the orchestra lead first

  • They often do less figures and fill the pauses

  • There is a balance between the couple

  • The figures flow in when the music calls for it

At the end of the night the only thing one truly remembers from a dance is how it made them feel. So, why sacrifice a figures for the embrace? I find that many dancers focus on technique and figures before they even pay attention to the embrace. I believe it should be the starting point, where everything is born. If it is true that the body does not lie and that tango reveals who you are, I would say that the embrace is where it all happens. The good news is that we can grow and change. One chooses to be the kind of dancer he is. If you do not know, ask a close friend or classmate you trust. That is the first step towards making new discoveries.


On this trip I had the opportunity to teach a ladies workshop in the province of San Juan. At one point one man that had come to take pictures and known as one of the most advanced in the community, came up to me and told me how he had appreciated the way I explained the connection in the embrace. He told me that no one was ever able to explain it in a specific manner. A few ladies joined it to second his opinion. I was thrilled. I have always been one to believe that to fully understand something, one must be able to explain it in simple words. The embrace is created from the connection between a man and a woman (or the two people dancing). Notice I did not say leader or follower? That is because the woman is not just a follower. In Spanish there is no such words to explain the roles in tango. They would say the one that guides and the one who accompanies or the role of the woman and the role of the man. Though the embrace is not the same in form for the man and the woman, one has to lead (anything with two heads is a monster😉), I believe they both must give as much to create connection. Sure, one can compensate for the other but, ideally, we tend to find a “good connection” when there is balance between the two. Many times I have found myself asking the women to give more, embrace more and the men less. Often the women seem to be terrified of leaning, being heavy or anticipating, and as a reaction you find the men pushing and leading with the arms. All these problems need to be talked about and resolved in the embrace. Everything communicated in the embrace will go down in the feet and express itself in the body. It is like throwing a pebble in water and watching it ripple. The embrace should be a back and forth of information. And yes, the woman suggests things. She even leads at some points. This can get confusing. When I started I was thought it was all one way. But dancing with long time milongueras and learning from those who had danced with them made me find out just the opposite. If I had to portray the embrace with visual I would do it with wind. The embrace would be the air, created by both, a draft of wind continuously changing its path and velocity. It would be going through many endless doors, opened by the man and sometimes the woman, crossing the last one just before the music stops.


I have always known the embrace to be the most important part of tango. For instance, the embrace is the place where you fix the problems you have in your feet. If you have a good teacher, you will quickly figure this out for yourself. Most importantly, the embrace is where the secret lies. The embrace is a portal for all your emotions and a place where temporal states of being are detected. And this is why no embrace ever looks the same.Nowadays we see many people imitating certain styles that are in fashion, but there used to be a time where one would get slapped for imitating another dancer’s expression. Literally. I believe the reasoning behind the offence is more the fact that imitating someone’s expression is like borrowing a feeling. Its never really your own. Of course, it takes a lot more work to discover your own expression rather than copying someone else. That is all I will ll say about that. I have known this but for some time but somehow it seems to become more obvious to me now that the way we dance is in fact based on who we are. Therefore, changing your embrace and expression has to do more with your personal growth and emotional state than anything else.

I tried to explain this to one of my friends and student of tango when he asked me how is my embrace like or how I would describe it. I do not think there are words for that. It would be like trying to describe a feeling. Sure I can try my best to paint a picture for you, but there is nothing like feeling it for yourself to know what it is. However, the best answer I have to offer is that my embrace is a representation of who I am, right now. Tomorrow I might have something else to offer…

During this trip some friends I made and students I taught also asked me how they could have their partners feel the way my embrace does or how they could get that feeling of weight without being heavy. I wish I could teach it but I cannot. It is something I have been trying to obtain for myself for years, something that even the best have problems trying to explain. I have learnt it through an accumulation of precious moments: the embraces I have felt, the dances I have danced, the “charlas” over mate and coffee, the performances I have been blessed to see in unexpected places, the milongueros I have encountered. This is why it is so important to spend time learning outside the class setting. For example, I had the opportunity to dance with a great dancer after a workshop and feel her embrace. It lasted just a fewminutes but I was able to feel something new in the embrace. I learnt something that I could then try for myself. I call these moments “little pearls”. My partner noticed right away and said: “What did you do? What did you change in your embrace? If feels incredible?” I replied: “I don’t know but it was worth waiting this long to find it”.

More than ever I feel that tango is a representation of the people that dance it and the embraces we create. Some are nice, some are mean, some are generous, some are selfish, some are arrogant, some are educated, some are funny, some are thieves, some are givers, some are loving, some are intimate, some are kind and some are thankful…. but all are true. Once a friend asked what I mean by “true”. I mean real. They donot all have to be nice. They are the people we are and the world we live in.

So often we tend to judge what is ugly, what does not fit the mold, or what we cannot relate to. But in order to grow and change we must see further than just ourselves. In the end we are in the embrace just BEING, sometimes falling short of it all but most the time trying to BE our best.

I leave you with a few words posted by a new friend I made in Buenos Aires.He is a well-known dancer who travelled the world with one of the biggest tango shows. I had the opportunity to meet him in San Juan. I quickly noticed how observant he was in the milongas. It was as if he was savoring each moment, not choosing them to be all the way he wanted to, but rather taking them in as they were… like “little pearls”. His embrace was different that any I have encountered. It was filled and present. He posted these words on Facebook after a weekend of tango milongas, classes, “asados”, coffee meetings:

“...y yo aprendí que todo puede cambiar de un momento a otro… que la vida se da en oleadas, en subidas y bajadas… que no podés estar tan seguro de nada en ningún momento… que todas las situaciones tienen diversos puntos de vista… y que si estamos inmersos en una situación, sea agradable o desagradable, es porque nosotros lo elegimos… y porque algo tenemos que aprender…”

“…and I’ve learnt that everything can change from one moment to another… that life is lived in waves, ups and downs… that you can’t ever be sure of anything … that all situations can be judged with a different point of view….. and that if we are immersed in a situation, be it pleasant or unpleasant, it is because we’ve chosen it…. And that we have something to learn from it….”


Faye, AKA Muñeca Brava

Photo credit: Alejandro Barrios


Recientemente, volví de un viaje de cinco semanas de Buenos Aires, San Juan y otros lugares de argentina y sigo con sueños atrasados. Siento que que cada vez que viajo a Argentina, la descubro como por vez primera. Vuelvo a casa con una nueva perspectiva y con un sentimiento de cambio. Así es como yo sé que mi visita ha valido la pena. De muchos nuevos descubrimientos, hubo dos experiencias que quedaron marcadas en mi memoria: cruzar los Andes de ida y vuelta por primera vez (algo que haría nuevamente sin pensarlo dos veces) y mi visita a la provincia de San Juan que tiene una excelente comunidad de personas y tangueros.

Me gustaría compartir algunos importantes descubrimientos. Les ofrezco una colección de pensamientos y lecciones sobre el abrazo que se ha ido desarrollando en mi mientras tomo el sendero del tango.


Hay tantas cosas que recuerdo de las milongas, prácticas, clases y de la gente que voy conociendo. Algunas son interesantes, algunas graciosas, otras dramáticas, algunas molestas, otras educativas pero lo que siempre vuelve a mí es el abrazo, en cómo los momentos que más recuerdo son referidos al abrazo. El abrazo crea una conexión que es mucho mas profunda que un encuentro común y casual. Creo que es el elemento mas importante del tango. He notado que hay gente que realmente se da cuenta de esta importancia mientras que otros no o directamente prefieren ignorar esto. Para mí, la diferencia entre ésta gente es muy clara por como se siente (en su abrazo). Creo que hay dos tipos de bailarines: (sin hacer diferencia de género)

El bailarín que baila para sí sólo: *EL abrazo no es el foco principal *Priorizan figuras antes que caminar (y la música) *Puedes ver cómo constantemente, mientras bailan miran a los ojos a la otra gente *Aman los adornos y giros *Las pausas son vacías y presuradas *Llamarán sólo ellos tu atención más que la pareja en sí *Minimizan la orquesta

El bailarín que baila para su pareja: *EL abrazo es el foco principal *Dejan que la orquesta los guíe primero *Generalmente hacen menos figuras y llenan las pausas *Hay un equilibrio entre la pareja *Las figuras fluyen cuando la música lo pide Al terminar la noche, lo único que uno realmente recuerda de un baile es cómo se sintió y cómo lo hicieron sentir.

Entonces, por qué sacrificar el abrazo por una figura? Encuentro que muchos bailarines se enfocan en la técnica y en las figuras antes que sin siquiera notar el abrazo. Creo que es el abrazo el punto de partida, en donde nace todo. Si es verdad que el cuerpo físico no miente y que el tango revela quien uno es en verdad, diría que es el abrazo por donde pasa todo. La buena noticia es que todos podemos crecer y cambiar. Uno elige ser el bailarín que quiere ser. Si no sabés que tipo sos, preguntale a un amigo o a un compañero de confianza. Es el primer paso para llegar a nuevos descubrimientos.


En este viaje, he tenido la oportunidad que dar un seminario en la provincia de San Juan. En un momento dado, llegó un señor reconocido como uno de los tangueros con mas experiencia a tomar fotos. Me agradeció por la forma en que expliqué la conexión y el abrazo. Me comentó que nunca nadie había podido explicarlo de ésta manera. Varias mujeres estuvieron de acuerdo con él. Esto me dio mucha alegría. Siempre he creído que para llegar a comprender un concepto en profundidad, uno debe poder explicarlo con simplicidad. El abrazo se crea con la conexión entre un hombre y una mujer, (o de las dos personas bailando). Notaste que no mencioné “leader” y “follower”(seguidor)? Esto se debe a que la mujer no es solamente una “follower” (seguidora). En español no existe una palabra que explique los roles en el tango. En castellano se les llama el que guía a el que acompaña o el rol del hombre y el rol de la mujer. Aunque el abrazo no es lo mismo en forma para el hombre y para la mujer, uno de ellos tiene que marcar. Yo creo que los dos deben darse por completo para crear esta tan mencionada “conexión”. Hay veces que uno tiene que compensar por el otro pero en realidad una buena conexión se da cuando hay un equilibrio entre los dos. En varias ocasiones, me encuentro aconsejándole a las mujeres que den más, que abracen más, (mientras que al hombre le pido que dé menos). Muchas veces, las mujeres tienen ciertos temores como por ejemplo de poner todo su peso sobre el hombre, hacerse sentir muy pesadas y anticipar. Como consecuencia de esto, el hombre termina marcando con los brazos. Todos éstos inconvenientes necesitan ser mencionados y resueltos en el abrazo mismo. Todo lo que se comunica en el abrazo, llegará a los pies y se expresará en el cuerpo. Es como cuando tirás una piedrita en el agua y se producen ondas. Bueno, el abrazo es así, debería ser un ir y venir de mensajes. Y sí, la mujer a veces propone cosas en el baile. Se puede decir que hasta guía en ciertos momentos. Esto puede ser un poco confuso. Cuando yo empece a bailar tango, pensé que todo era de una sola manera pero al bailar con milongueras con muchos años de baile y al aprender de aquellos que bailaron con dichas mujeres, me hizo pensar jústamente lo contrario. Si tuviera que visualizar el abrazo, lo haría pensando en el viento. El aire sería creado por los dos en la pareja y habría una brisa continua que cambia su camino y su velocidad. Pasaría por una infinidad de puertas abiertas por el hombre y a veces por la mujer cruzando la última justo antes de que termine la música.


Siempre he sabido que el abrazo es lo más importante en el tango. Por ejemplo, todos los problemas que se presentan en los pies, se arreglan en el abrazo. Con un buen instructor, te deberás cuenta de esto en muy poco tiempo. Es en el abrazo donde están todos los secretos para mejorar, esto es un concepto importantísimo. El abrazo es el portal de todas las emociones y el lugar en donde los estados temporales están siendo detectados. Es por esto que ningún abrazo se ve igual. Hoy en día, observamos a mucha gente imitando ciertos estilos que están de moda. En épocas anteriores, se podía llegar a dar una paliza por imitar la expresión de otro bailarín. Yo creo que la razón de esta ofensa es más bien porque es como tomar prestado un sentimiento ajeno. Realmente, nunca es propio. Pero claro, toma mucho más trabajo descubrir tu propia expresión que tomar prestada la de otro/a. Esto es todo lo que opinaré por ahora con respecto a esto. He sabido lo siguiente por un buen tiempo pero de alguna manera, es más evidente para mí ahora más que nunca, que la manera en que bailamos está basada en quiénes somos realmente. Por lo tanto, cambiar tu abrazo y expresión tiene que ver más bien con el crecimiento personal de cada uno y con el estado emocional.

Traté de explicarle esto a un amigo/estudiante de tango cuando me preguntó como es mi abrazo y como podría describirlo. Creo que no hay palabras para esto. Seria como describir un sentimiento. Por supuesto que puedo tratar de pintar una pintura para vos, pero lo mejor es sentirlo por vos mismo para saber realmente que es. La mejor respuesta que podría dar con respecto a esto sería que mi abrazo es una representación de quien soy hoy. Mañana podría tener otra cosa para ofrecer…

Durante este viaje, algunos amigos que hice y algunos estudiantes que enseñé también me preguntaban como podían hacer que sus compañeras sintieran mi abrazo. Además, querían que yo mostrara cómo la mujer puede poner su peso sin ser pesada. Me gustaría mucho poder enseñar esto y mostrarlo pero no puedo. Esto es algo que yo he tratado de conseguir por muchos años y es algo que hasta los mejores tienen dificultad para explicar. Es algo que yo he obtenido gracias a la acumulación de momentos preciados: los abrazos que he sentido, los bailes que he bailado, las charlas que se dan en un mate o café, las exhibiciones que he tenido la gran suerte de haber presenciado en lugares inesperados, los milongueros con los que me he encontrado. Por eso es importante pasar tiempo aprendiendo fuera del ámbito de la clase. Por ejemplo, yo he tenido la oportunidad de bailar con una gran bailarina después de un seminario y sentir su abrazo. Duró sólo unos instantes pero pude sentir algo nuevo en su abrazo. Algo que pude luego, aplicar por mí misma. A estos momentos, yo los defino como “perlitas”. Mi compañero notó este cambio inmediatamente y me preguntó qué había cambiado yo en mi abrazo. Aclaró que se sentía increíble. Yo le contesté: -No sé que pasó pero valió la pena esperar tanto tiempo para encontrarlo.

Ahora más que nunca, siento que el tango es la representación de las personas que lo bailamos y de los abrazos que creamos. Algunos son buenos, otros malos, otros generosos. Algunos son egoístas, otros arrogantes, otros educados. Algunos son graciosos, otros ladrones, otros dadores y otros con mucho amor. Otros íntimos, algunos son amables y otros agradecidos…pero todos son “verdaderos”. Con esto, quiero decir reales. No todos tienen que ser buenos. Los abrazos son lo que somos y el mundo en que vivimos. Es muy común juzgar lo feo, lo que no entra en el molde o lo que no podemos relacionar con nosotros mismos. Pero para poder crecer y cambiar, necesitamos ver más allá de nuestro propio ser. Al fin y al cabo, en el abrazo sólo SOMOS. A veces con falencias pero la mayoría de las veces tratando de ser nuestra mejor versión.

Me despido con unas palabras que publicó un nuevo amigo que hice en Buenos Aires. El es un reconocido bailarín que viajó por el mundo con una de las compañías mas famosas de tango. He tenido la oportunidad de encontrármelo en San Juan. Noté lo observador que era en las milongas. Era como si estuviese saboreando cada momento sin tomar la decisión de cambiarlos a su manera sino más bien aceptándolos como eran… como “perlitas”. Su abrazo fue uno de los más diferentes que yo había sentido. Era lleno y presente. El publicó las siguientes palabras después de un fin de semana llenos de tango, milongas, clases, asados y café. “...y yo aprendí que todo puede cambiar de un momento a otro… que la vida se da en oleadas, en subidas y bajadas… que no podés estar tan seguro de nada en ningún momento… que todas las situaciones tienen diversos puntos de vista… y que si estamos inmersos en una situación, sea agradable o desagradable, es porque nosotros lo elegimos… y porque algo tenemos que aprender…”

Abrazos, Faye, “Muñeca Brava”

PH: Alejandro Barrios

Traducción: Natalie Oliva

Does the Tanturi Campos Effect exist? If so, is it confined to Tanturi or is it a generalized phenomenon? 

Have you ever wondered why dancing tango can feel so good? Why so many people are addicted to it and not necessarily know why? I myself have felt better dancing some great tandas after a bad or stressful day. I have always felt the healing power of a milonga where the energy flows and the people move in their warm embraces to the harmony, melody and rhythm of the great golden age tango orchestras. I wanted to know if there was a scientific basis to this global phenomenon that might explain the "feel good" effect of dancing tango at the level of the brain. So I wondered about a possible Tanturi Effect.

The healing power of music has long been recognized and goes as far as the ancient Greeks. Pythagoras recognized how people were moved by consonant sounds. Harmonic music was able to soothe people andcure ailments of the spirit, body and soul. In the Republic, Plato declared that rhythm and harmony find their way into the inward places of the soul. Recently, the Mozart Effect gained world wide popularity as the scientific community examined the intelligence enhancing effect of Mozart’s Sonata for Two Pianos in D Major K.448. Some people have questioned whether the Mozart Effect truly exists and whether the effect is merely a mood modifying phenomenon common to other types of music. There is no doubt however, as evidenced by neuroscience, that music affects specific areas of the brain resulting in neuroendocrine and psychoimmunological changes with great potential benefits to human health at physical, mental as well asspiritual levels.

Research has shown that listening to music lowers the secretion of cortisol responsible for thestress response and improves mood. By affecting specific regions and pathways in the brain , some have even shown that music can act a  the cellular and molecular level facilitating neurogenesis (repair and regenerationof cerebral nerves) . Neuroplasticity or the ability of the brain to change itself has been linked to music as well. Listening to pleasurable , harmonicmusic evokes emotions which areaccompanied by physiologicalreactions which decrease the stressresponse such as decreased heart andrespiratory rates, blood pressure and diminution of hormone secretions involved in the stress response.  Chronic stress has been strongly associated with the development ofmany chronic diseases such as heart disease and hypertension, diabetes and cancer.

If you are wondering what all this has to do with Tanturi Campos, I would like to illustrate that it has a lot to do with it and even more. I have chosen Tanturi Campos as an example, not as a specific, as it was thought to be with the Mozart Sonata 448 ininfluencing the cognitive abilities of the brain. I would like to propose that Tanturi Campos is an example of a potent vaccine that has the power to protect from the chronic stress response that causes the many ailments of our society at the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual realms. Imagine the human stress response similar to a virus causing disease and Tanturi Campos, the vaccine against the virus. The Tanturi Campos effect, as I like to call it , has three powerful ingredients that makeup the vaccine.

Let’s imagine the following scenario: You had a stressful day at work or experienced some kind of daily conflict which caused your stress response to be activated , i.e. your heart rate is increased , your breathing is shallow and rapid , your cortisol levels are up causing your immune system to be vulnerable and that you feel you might be coming up with a bad cold. So you decide to attend a milonga and as you reach the venue , the DJ happens to be playing Una Emocion de Tanturi Campos . The beautifully melodic yet rhythmic music of Tanturi with the divine soothing voice of Enrique Campos suddenly eases your heart rate , decreases your blood pressure and you start to breathe better. You suddenly put your tango shoes on and make eye contact with a familiar face to catch the second song of the tanda. You meet on the edge of the dancefloor, approach and embrace . You start feeling the warm embrace and within 20 seconds, you release asurge of oxytocin . As your body moves harmonically, rhythmically and melodically in that warm hug you both created, you release further oxytocin which attach to the oxytocin receptorsin your amygdala (a part of the brainlimbic system strongly involved in theemotions) which in turn activatesneuronal pathways that in no time put a damper on the previously activated Hypothalamic _Pituitary_Adrenal Axis (the structures involved in the stress response ) thus resulting in ahomeostasis or balance of your whole being all the way to the level of your cells. This is what I call the Tanturi Campos Effect.

Perhaps , we can call it the Oxytocin Effect, the hormone released when a mother nurses the baby, the one responsible when you make love to your partner, the one released when you hug and pet your dog , when you hug others whom you trust such as your friends and members of your family or even strangers who you feel you can trust by intuition, the hormone released when you receive a massage , dance and when you pray.

Oxytocin has also been labeled as the hormone of morality, empathy and trust. A study published in The Journal ofPsychosomatic Medicine examined theeffects of partner support on restingoxytocin, cortisol, norepinephrine and blood pressure before and after warm partner contact and found that lack of intimate contact is associated with greater sympathetic system activation which is linked to greater risk of cardiovascular disease. The OxytocinSystem (OT) operates in all mammalian species. Recent advances in the study of affiliation inmammals suggests that the OT system, which is uniquely responsive to the social environment , operates inparallel with known stress response systems both to bring about “calm and connection” effects in response to positive social cues, and inhibits sympathetic andhypothalamic_pituitary_adrenal (HPA)activity after stress.

So does the Tanturi Effects exist? I believe it absolutely does and operates through its three major ingredients: music , embrace and dance. So don’t missout on this potent vaccine that has absolutely no adverse side effects. As we say at Tango Soul: "Embrace and walk to the music". And I shall add to this mantra: "Keep Calm and Release Oxytocin".

Gérard Derminasyan

Montreal  QC - 2016


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