Coming back from Buenos Aires to dance in the USA is always difficult. It's not the level of technique: in some cases, that is comparable with the dancers in Argentina. Why are dancers here different? One Argentine teacher told me that he was glad HE didn't have to teach North Americans tango every day: "They don't like touching each other!"
To me, it's not the physical touching that is lacking, but the emotional connection. Most dancers I dance with in Buenos Aires are more open. I can feel their energy open up to me, rather than block my energy. It is rare to feel that with dancers I don't know in the USA, and sometimes even with folks I know well.
I think this might be true for North America, rather than only for dancing tango. Dancing last night (West Coast Swing), I could feel my partners going through the motions, but not DANCING with me. One man kept putting my hands on his body and gyrating, but never connected in energy: it was a solo act! In fact, I was struck by the connection that was established with one dancer from Los Angeles (Latino), because all the other dancers--with the exception of my sweetie--did not connect.
There is a social component in what I experience as the connection in Buenos Aires. There, I have discussions about relationships, work, politics, love--in between dances in a tanda. In some cases, we started up conversations from the year before and continued them! When the dancing is REALLY good, we tend to talk about how good the dancing and connection feels, and often discuss the orchestra or the singer and how that is working to our advantage in the tanda. I don't experience that very much in the USA, except with established friends; and then we shy away from deep conversations, as if that would interfere with the dancing.
Is it more accepted to open to another person emotionally outside of white American culture (most of the dancers here would fit in that category). The Argentines I spoke with certainly think so, but there are cultural sterotypes about North Americans there, so perhaps that is not a valid observation.
What I try to accomplish in my teaching tango, is to establish a deep, interlaced embrace that allows for movement for both people, and allows for maximum balance and comfort. I think that aids in allowing emotional and energetic connection. That is one reason I've moved away from the square, stuck-to-your-sternum embrace I was taught years ago: if I am struggling for balance, how can I relax enough to allow a real connection to happen? When your body relaxes, your center relaxes, and you can allow energy flow to form a unified couple. It will take a bit more work to get our North American comfort zones small enough to let vulnerability in enough to really connect with others.
What do you think will help us open up to our partners and let our vulnerability out to play?