I will refrain from making sexual comparisons, but sometimes the first tanda you have with someone will be awkward and leaves something to be desired. This happened to me a few weeks ago at a festival I visited. I danced with a follwer, let's call her Lady X, who had really great balance and a good sense of following, but her embrace was too restricting and a little rigid. I had to switch from close embrace to open embrace and finished the tanda, which was, all things considered, a pretty good tanda.
However, after we were finished and I was walking her back to her seat, she actually asked me why I had switched to open embrace. I felt kind of bad, like I had hurt her feelings or something. So I gave a diplomatic yet honest reply. I told her that I thought she was uncomfortable with close embrace because she was squeezing me hard with her left arm, and that was that.
We met again at another festival recently, and this time around, the dances were simply amazing. Lady X's left arm did not choke me, but rested on my right arm and shoulder with just the right amount of pressure to achieve a wonderful connection. We had several fantastic tandas. A couple of things that deserve mention:
1. She apologized several times about tensing up slightly, adding that she felt a little nervous. This in turn made me feel bad. I am a passable dancer, not a very high caliber leader, and so I can only conclude that my previous comment about her embrace made her self-conscious. I apologize (anonymously) to this wonderful lady for making her doubt herself at all. That being said, I must acknowledge that my honest reply to her question, did result in her paying attention to the quality of her embrace. Conclusion: Leaders, please refrain from unsolicited comments to your dance partners at milongas, but if they ask you, by all means be honest, yet very nice about it. No doubt, some people will be upset if you point out specific shortcomings, but I have to assume that if I am directly asked, then the person asking me does have a genuine interest in hearing my input. And in my case, that input was taken into consideration, and made a great dancer even greater.
2. Among the leads in our community, I tend be one of the simpler dancers. I rarely lead ganchos, leg wraps or any of the flashier steps, even given the space at our more sparse milongas that makes these steps feasible without kicking other people. I was dancing with Lady X to 'El Adios' (can't remember if it was Donato's version or Canaro's), and during a couple of the phrases with the prominent wailing violins, I just walked and walked. I have something for wailing violins apparently, and I really walked from my heart. This did not go unnoticed by Lady X, who commented that she loves simple dances with lots of walking (Apprently she agrees with Jaimito that simple is beautiful), but that it's so rare for leaders to do that with her. My reply, and hopefully that reply undid whatever emotional damage I did with my previous comments, was that probably because she is such a wonderful dancer, all the other guys want to try out their "moves" on her. On my part, when I dance with such an exquisite dancer, I want to enjoy the dance, feeling the music and feeling my partner. If I wanted to do "moves", I'll go salsa.