Milonga Etiquette...

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Tango Argentino is a passionate, intimate and emotive social dance. And there’s the key point -  it is social and therefore has some protocols and etiquette to ensure smooth interactions on the dance floor. Here are some guidelines to get you started in your understanding of the culture of social milongas.  Traffic Always dance counter-clockwise around the dance floor. In traditional milongas there is constant movement around the floor with nobody stopping in one place. People move faster around the edge of the dance floor and slower towards the middle. If you need overtake, move to the outside. Do not go in every which direction looking for space. Leaders, do not step backwards without looking carefully first. Try to avoid any movement counter to the line of dance. Stay clear of the dance floor if you’re not dancing.  Courtesy Both the leader and the follower are responsible for being aware of other dancers around them. It is considered extremely rude to bump into people, even on a crowded dance floor. If you do bump into someone, apologise immediately and courteously. If you see someone is likely to bump into you, let your partner know subtly or take steps to avoid the collision.    Appropriate steps Consider the amount of space available to you and your partner before leading fancy manoeuvres or making wild and dangerous embellishments. It is extremely unpleasant for other dancers to be speared by flying stilettos, kicked or stomped.  Practice If you want to show your partner a new step or practice a particular step, move off the dance floor out of the way of other social dancers. Alternatively, save practice for practica sessions and relax at the social milonga. At a social dance, try not to give advice or instruction unless you are specifically asked. Remember that everyone starts as a beginner and an instructive comment, however well-intentioned, can destroy the already fragile confidence of a new tanguero/a.  Social etiquette It is general practice in Argentina for the men to invite the ladies to dance. However, they do not do it without encouragement, so make eye contact with your favoured prospective partner and smile.  It is customary to dance a whole ‘tanda’ (group of similar songs) with one partner. This usually takes about 8 minutes, so even if s/he is an awful dancer it’s not too much of a trial to stay the distance. At the end of the tanda, take your partner back to her seat. It is extremely rude to walk off the dance floor leaving your partner looking like a dork in the middle of the floor.  Cutting in is not on. Invitations to dance happen off the dance floor, not while two people are standing on the dance floor, talking during the songs in a tandas or worse, during a dance. The two people being approached are well within their rights to politely ask the person cutting in to please wait their turn.  The best time to ‘bust a move’? Anytime during the tandas or cortinas that your potential new dance partner is not on the dance floor or about to step on to the floor with a dance partner. This courtesy should also be exercised during classes/practica.  A social dance is for dancing. If you want to talk with your partner, do it off the dance floor. Don’t apologise or chat during the dance. If you focus on the music, the traffic and your partner’s expressiveness, you’ll have plenty to do!  Hygiene Argentine tango is an intimate and elegant dance. Try to be considerate with your use of aftershave and perfume  some people are sensitive to them. If you perspire, consider bringing a change of top and use a towel or handkerchief to mop frequently. Chew a mint if you’re unsure of your breath.   © N. McNamara & V. Nelson  More on Etiquette “At the Milongas the dance floor is for dancing and for enjoyment”.Please respect the other dancers on the floor“The dance floor is for dancing”Conversation and socializing must be kept off the floor, once the dancing has started at a Milonga. Tango is difficult enough without somebody distracting you talking while dancing. Let the body do the talking. If you want to talk to your partner, do so at the start of the music and between tandas.“Milonga is for enjoyment”Teaching/coaching. The Milonga evening is for enjoyment, for people who love the music and the dance. It is not the appropriate place for teaching or coaching newcomers. Give them too the chance of enjoying a pleasant evening without being bombarded with running instruction or unsolicited pressure to learn. Leave that for  “Practica” sessions or classes. Again, remember, “The dance floor is for dancing”.     Footwear Appropriate dance footwear must be worn. Alternatively, shoes with clean leather or non marking soles that allow for pivots and turns on the wooden dance floor can be used.  For more information:
Milonga Etiquette