I was surprised she would say that. There seemed plenty of "Milonguero Style" Toronto dancers in Toronto. It's not like everyone is flocking to Nuevo Tango. Why wouldn't an Encuentro work?
She was right, of course. There are maybe TEN really good Milonguero Style dancers in Toronto now.... and most of them don't even come out to dance anymore.
Another Toronto Milonguera told me recently that she goes through phases of not wanting to come out to dance. It was just too disheartening, arriving at some of the more popular milongas in town, anticipating a having a good time dancing - but leaving disappointed because:
1. The FIVE really good Milonguero Style leaders have all decided to stay home (and not get kicked in the shins at the crowded and crazy popular milonga);
2. Being asked to dance and having to dance with Flingy leaders who just want to do ten million giros, enganches and ganchos - all in the same tanda. And not leading them very well either.
3. Not being asked to danced by any of Competition Tango Laddies, because they like to stick with the Competition Tango Ladies who have all gone to the same classes as them and have been trained by the same Competition Tango instructors and therefore have a chance to understand WTF they are leading.
4. Being asked to dance by any of the Competition Tango Laddies, and then not knowing WTF they are leading because hey, she never learned the same "Choreography".
5. Not being asked to dance, or refusing to dance, because it's a raging seething sea of Flinging and Tango Competition Choreography out there.
#1-5 above means no fun AND it also means the Embrace is dead. Or dying. Or people think the Embrace is something that it is isn't what it really should be.
Even Flingers and Tango Competition Choreographers can write f'g beautiful, literate, convincing, bring tears to your eyes essays about the Embrace. They truly may believe they are good/excellent/Tango Gods of Embrace because they have lots of dance partners/placed well in a Tango Competition/Teach and Perform Tango.
But come on, are they even Embracing?
Flingers only need the "embrace" like a Judoka wants you to put your hands on any part of his or her body in a fight. Someone's gotta be touching you in order for you to execute a (Judo) move on them.
Please hold me tight... so I can throw the s*** out of you.*
Tango Competition Choregraphers look like they have perfect embraces - of course, they score points for them in Competitions! The better the "look", the higher the score. Some of these types of dancers will "rearrange" their partners embrace (basically by pushing them out of it) so it would look better and they will have some space to do some nifty Tango Competition Standard movements and adornos.
No, no, no!
I am in the minority I guess in the Brave New Tango World of flinging and competition but that's not the Embrace for me.
I won't Embrace someone just so I have a grip on them and can make them "do stuff".
I am not Embracing someone in a certain way so that I would "Look Good" and "Score Points".
Embracing someone and thinking "Moves!" or "Looking Good!" is a failure to Embrace.
To Embrace, you have to be completely present in it, not elsewhere with your thoughts.
You have to give your whole Embrace to your partner, and in return they have to give their whole Embrace to you.
All those Tango pauses you are supposed to do with the music? They aren't to show off your Tango posture or to show off your ability to pause strategically to win points and admiration. They are moments to feel the Embrace more deeply and intensely.
And to connect with your partner completely.
Dancing Tango without the Embrace is like stuffing your mouth with shovels of food, but Tasting absolutely nothing.
*By Mhultstrom - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=27764362