Comments and emails about my last post, Breaking the Embrace, got me thinking about the 'embrace negotiation' that happens as a couple begins to dance.
I have had different teachers tell me different things - "the woman must always adapt to the man's style and embrace" "The man should accept the embrace the woman offers."
Most of the leaders locally wait for me to choose the distance - I don't know if that's what they were taught or if it's just practical. I have had a few leaders scoop me up into close embrace almost before the music starts, which is a bit startling - but since I tend to prefer that embrace, I tend to settle in eventually. When a leader actively chooses open embrace and maintains that space, I try to maintain it from my side as well - though it's hard for me. As I dance more and more in close embrace, I get out of the habit.
One leader, visiting from out of town, said Argentine teachers especially emphasize that the woman adapts to the man's preference but really, that doesn't exactly work. If the follower wants an open embrace, and the leader wants close - then he has to practically chase her around the floor because it's not natural for her to be so close.
It has always felt to me, when the preferences are different, that it's more of a negotiation for both partners' comfort. Perhaps the man does choose the embrace, but the woman has veto rights.