Tango is an energetic, spirited dance that developed in Argentina out of a group of related dances, and since its birth in the 19th century it has become one of the most popular dances in the world. The Apilado is a style of tango first identified in the 1990s, but its practice goes back much farther than that. The key element that makes Apilado different is the way the dancers press their chests together and lean their weight on each other. It developed in crowded dance halls where space is at a premium.
Unfortunately, the Apilado is often misunderstood, even by people who regularly practice the tango. It’s not very common, and so dancers often don’t know what it’s for or when to use it. However, it can be a fun addition to a tango dance when you and your partner avoid these common mistakes.
Dancers perform to express themselves, both to their partners and to the people watching. However, the dance should be your focus and the Apilado is a very subtle style. It can be hard to spot when someone is using it, and you should never dance Apilado through a whole tango. The Apilado is an expression of trust between the dance partners, and while some dancers use it as a way to show off that’s not the purpose of the style.
2. Leading With The Hands
When you press your chest against your partner’s, this point of contact becomes the focus of the dance. You effectively lead with your chest, and your hands should be relaxed and loose as you embrace your partner. Trying to lead with your hands during an Apilado doesn’t just defeat the purpose of the style, it can potentially cause injuries as you press your partner’s spine.
3. Leaning Too Far
When you and your partner are in the Apilado position, you should be leaning together in a very natural, relaxed pose. Footwork becomes more important than usual since your legs are so close together, and both partners support each other with their body weight. What you shouldn’t do is support your own weight with your back muscles. This will push your back into a very unnatural position and leave you feeling sore afterward.
4. Using The Wrong Techniques
The Apilado is a close style, so using techniques from the open position just won’t work. You’ll need to learn some completely new moves if that’s what you’re familiar with. This means you should also avoid using moves like pivots since both partners need to stay touching and the center of your movement should always be between you.
The Apilado is a very fun and intimate style of tango, and it makes a great addition to any dance when you can completely trust your partner. However, since people don’t use it often there are a lot of misconceptions about the style. Add some Apilado to your tango if you like, but make sure you know what it’s really for so you don’t make any of these common mistakes.