Stupid Friggin’ A-Frame

Right now, my biggest challenge in learning Argentine Tango is maintaining a solid A-frame with my partner. Up until now, social Argentine Tango has let me off the hook. I thought of Argentine Tango embrace as a sort a messy ballroom tango frame that let me do all the things I’ve been told not to do:

This is a bit exaggerated, but you get the idea. (Image from
  • Look at my partner/ my partner’s chest/the floor.
  • Stand on my toes instead of getting my heels down (not really the whole story, but to a beginner, this is what it looks like).
  • Lean on my partner instead of supporting my own weight by myself– although I could never bring myself to do this.
  • Violate the NFZ (no finger zone) that begins at my partner’s shoulder seem. I actually get to wrap my left arm around my partner and he gets to wrap his around my back. It’s all sexy and wrong.
  • Anticipate backward movement by not only preparing my back leg to move, but also extending it backward before my partner has begun to move his body.

Now that I’m taking lessons I’m starting to realize that none of these things make sense without a better understanding of the counter-weighted A-frame underneath it all. And A-frame is so hard to maintain! Raggin’ fraggin’ A-frame.

I’ve got to lean in toward my partner (but not let my abs go and my back get swayed). And he’s go to lean in to me. We’ve got to work together and trust one another.

On Tuesday in class, I said to my partner, “This is like trust falls!”

I don’t think I usually reach much of a level of trust with strangers, or even most friends, on the dance floor. I don’t usually try to.  He asks me for a dance, or I ask him. There’s a brief scuffle as we assess one another’s level of experience. And we do the whole lead and follow thing, which is kind of like a trust exercise, but not the way an A-frame is.

An A-frame is like too much self-disclosure with a new friend. It either puts your relationship on the fast-track,  accelerating intimacy. Or your confession scares them away.

Maybe that’s my main problem. An A-frame still feels like too much trust. Too much to give to just anybody.

One comment

  1. Hmmm… if you are interested, there is a good Argentine Tango instructor in Minneapolis. His name is Dan Larson. Jon and I used to take lessons from him. Actually we meet him at the Loring Pasta Bar in Minneapolis. On Sunday evenings they have a live Argentine Tango band that performs and people dancing. Great times! 🙂


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