Thursday, March 22, 2012


A short introduction to some of the tango 'etiquette' I've learned in the past couple of weeks.

-| Before the Dance |-

The Look 
 ||  The proper way to ask for someone's permission to dance is to look across the room, make eye contact and nod in the affirmative or avoid it in the negative.  This comes from the traditional macho Latino culture; not wanting to be rejected in front of the entire room, this rule helps him avoid social humiliation.

Lead the Way  ||  Whether or not you're a man, if you asked someone to dance, lead them onto the dance floor.

Hygiene  ||  Not an official rule, but after dancing with a chain smoker who decided to breathe through her mouth, I've decided that it's important to keep personal hygiene in tip-top shape.  Brush your teeth, wear deodorant, have mints, and even change your shirt if it gets too sweaty.  Nothing makes you regret your choice to dance with someone more than body odor.

-| During the Dance |-

On Time  ||  Most dancers never start dancing as soon as the music starts; some small talk is made, and thirty or so seconds in, both partners assume the position and begin dancing until the very last beat of the song.  This might give them a break to recover from the previous song, but it's really meant for both dancers to listen to the music and understand 'the mood' of the dance.

Tanda y Cortina  ||  Depending on the DJ, a group of 3-5 same-style songs [milonga, tango, etc.] will be played at a time [la tanda].  Couples are allowed to enter at any time during these songs, but it's considered polite to dance with your partner until the end of those songs, when a song of a completely different style [la cortina] will be played.  Consider it a slap in the face and a kick in the groin if your partner decides to stop before la cortina.

Lack of Talk  ||  Don't talk during the dance.  Or, if you're apologizing, keep it to a minimum.

Circle  ||  From above, the partners dance in a counter-clockwise fashion.  Faster couples on the outer lanes, and slower couples on the inner lanes.

Don't Teach  ||  Don't teach on the dance floor during a milonga; save it for the class beforehand.  Or, if you like, teach very far off in a corner.

Tango Trance  ||  There's a point where the follower may close their eyes.  From personal experience, closing your eyes actually helps you to follow the lead by feeling what he or she is doing.  Not only does it cut off the pressure of people watching you, it puts you into a 'zone' and even makes you look sexy.

-| After the Dance |-

Smile  ||  Maybe this should be done before and during, but it's important for one's ego to see a smile from their partner after the dance; whether or not you got stepped on or was able to do any fun leg tricks, show that you had fun.  That's why you're there, isn't it?  Also realize that at the slightest suggestion, any beginner can be scared from ever dancing in a milonga.  For life.

Thank You  ||  Thank you partner.  If you're being thanked, don't respond with 'You're welcome,' as that's considered both strange and rude.  Respond with a 'Thank you.'

Lead the Way  ||  Same as before the dance, if you did the asking, lead your partner off.

[ Proper ]

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