There is no open or closed embrace. There is only tango
There are many opinions about the embrace in the tango. What shape should it take? How strong should it be? Should it be open or closed?
I do believe that the embrace is the most fundamental element of the tango, along with a desire to appreciate the music that we are dancing to. "Embracar, Escuchar, Bailar" Embrace listen, dance". This is the path to the blissful experience that the tango offers.
I have experienced dancing in different embraces and the embrace I choose to dance is this one: a closed embrace with a connected breast on the right side of the leader; an embrace that changes according to the needs of the dance - closed, open or sliding. I find that this embrace offers me the best possibility to stay on my own axis as a follower and allows the rotation of my hips that is necessary with so many movements.
But this is not the only enjoyable embrace. Some people prefer a full breasted embrace or an open embrace. I believe that there is too much dogmatism in the discussions regarding the embrace and the most important thing is that the embrace creates a connection between two people. Who am I to demand how they connect? Any of the varied embraces can be functional or dysfunctional. As a teacher I can only guide and assist the dancers to make the embrace work. If they choose to dance the open or closed embrace I can help them to make it pleasurable.
A few people have approached me and said "You teach the open embrace". Yes, I do. I teach the open embrace to beginners who need to understand the engergetic forces of connection between the two bodies. "Connection" in tango is not only about physical contact. It is about the energy and forces between the bodies that make them move as one. Once a dancer can dance confidently in the open embrace they should be able to do everything in the closed embrace because the fundamentals of movement are in place and their bodies - from the toes to the shoulders- have been set up for dancing.
The opposite is not always true. In my experience, dancers who only learn to dance in the closed embrace from the beginning more often confuse the concept of "connection". In addition, they do not have the skills to open the embrace when they need to, making the dance more limited, especially from the woman's perspective.
Very importantly , learning to dance in the closed embrace as a beginner is much more difficult and people are easily put off if they step on each others's toes. I would rather people have a beginners experience with minimal stress and a focus on enjoyment!