Tango Etiquette

Floor Craft

The dance floor is like a highway, with lanes for every type of traffic.

The Line of Dance progresses counter-clockwise. Stay in your lane of traffic. Pass only when absolutely necessary. If there is a large space in front of you it means there is a large crowd behind you!!

The outer most lane/s is for continuous traveling. The inner central area is for divergence. Also reserved for new dancers. If you want to do moves that require you to stop, move to the center.

As you enter the Ronda (circle of couples that form the line of dance), make eye contact with the leader of the couple you are getting in front of. Leaders – watch where you are going to protect your partner.

KEEP MOVING when possible. Each couple is dancing not only with their partner but with every other couple on the floor. Respect your fellow dancers. NO traveling backwards against the line of dance.

Keep your feet on the floor, unless you are SURE that your embellishment is directed to empty space.

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Asking for a Dance – The Cabeceo

There is a charming, face-saving convention involving eye contact – the cabeceo. Followers scan the leaders and make eye contact with anybody with whom they want to dance. The leader then either breaks eye contact, signifying that he doesn’t want to dance or raises his eyebrows and/or makes a subtle head nod toward the dance floor. The follower answers by either smiling and nodding back, or by breaking-off eye contact. This ensures that no follower is invited by a leader with whom she doesn’t want to dance, and no leader suffers the embarrassment of being refused. Once the follower is certain that the leader is on his way to her, she may stand and elect to meet him at the edge of the dance floor (this reduces the chance that another follower will think the invitation was for her). Continue reading

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Tango Etiquette

A “milonga” or social dance party, is just that….purely social dancing. Dancers are there to enjoy themselves in the connection and dance with their partner. One may of course make mental notes to themselves for later discussion. The idea is to dance at a level not above one’s partner, keep it simple, musical and connected!!

Music at the Milonga is set up in “Tandas” – sets of 3 or 4 songs in a row. The idea is to dance the Tanda with the same partner, to develop a connection, share a few Tango Moments. The short clip of music between the Tandas is called a “cortina” or curtain. This is the time to change partners if one desires. It is not required, and often couples who come together to a milonga may choose to dance exclusively. It is also nice to mix and experience different partners at a milonga, but it is the choice of each person.

Use the “cabeceo“, the traditional way of asking someone to dance via eye contact and a head nod, or simply ask. If a partner declines, please take the “no thank you” politely.

Saying “Thank You” on a social floor is the conventional way in Argentine Tango of saying, “I want to stop dancing”. Use other phrases if you want to continue. It’s perfectly acceptable to break after one, two, or three dances, or even (for followers) in the middle of a dance, if you are uncomfortable with your partner’s dancing or other behavior.

Teaching or talking on the social dance floor (milonga) is simply not acceptable behavior in any Argentine Tango community. Argentine Tango has fairly strict codes of behavior that apply to the dance scene worldwide. Teaching, talking and stopping on the social dance floor disrupt the energy of the milonga, the line of dance, and can be disturbing to the dancer who is “being taught”. If you are looking for a quality education in the dance, seek out classes and instruction from a qualified instructor. There are appropriate venues for practicing, and dialoging about the dance.

Our community also offers regular practicas, hosted by Tango Asheville, specifically for PRACTICE! No need to have a partner. Ask someone at the practica to dance and PRACTICE.

If you are a new dancer, and want to learn the dance, go to classes. Classes are designed to give you the information you need to begin to build a solid foundation on which to build your dance! Class and Practicas are the place to dialog with your partner, ask questions of the instructor. This IS the appropriate time for this. Milongas simply are not the place for this!

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