Argentine Tango Frequently Asked Questions
No, you do not need a dedicated dancing partner. In classes and milongas, dancers generally swap their partners, and in fact you will become a better dancer by dancing with a range of different people. Of course, if you do bring a partner and prefer to stay with just that one person at a class, practica or milonga, that is also not a problem.
You can wear whatever you like to a tango class, as long as it feels comfortable and doesn’t restrict your movement. As for shoes, you want to be able to pivot on your feet, so shoes with rubbery soles are not ideal. Also, while high heels for women look great, they are not a requirement.
The meaning of milonga depends on the context in which it is used. Generally, it denotes a social gathering where tango is danced. However, it can also refer to a specific dance under the tango umbrella (at a milonga, there are three types of dances: tango, milonga and vals).
Practica: As the name suggests, a practica is a social gathering with the aim of practising tango. It is less formal than a milonga, and people tend not to dress up as much. You can ask anyone to dance, and stop before the end of a tanda (in fact there may not even be tandas), or you may wish to keep dancing with the same person for the entire duration of the practica. It is okay to discuss technique and other matters with your partner, but if you stop dancing in the middle of a song, make sure you are not obstructing other couples who are still going.
Move with the counter-clockwise direction, flow and spacing of the line of dance. On a crowded floor, it is polite not to pass other couples or allow a big gap to open up in front of you.
It is customary not to teach on the dance floor during a milonga (a dance). Leave the floor and practice elsewhere. Of course, practicas are the ideal place to work on technique.
Personal hygiene is essential for an enjoyable dancing experience.
Always ask for a dance in a polite manner, whether verbally or non-verbally.
The leader always escorts the follower onto the dance floor, regardless of who initiated the offer.
Customarily, talking is inappropriate while dancing tango.
Under no circumstances should you correct your partner while on the dance floor.
Wear deodorant, have tissues on hand, or even bring a spare shirt as necessary. Sweating is a normal process, so prepare for it rather than pretending it doesn’t exist.
Be considerate of other dancers. Avoid bumping into other couples, or stepping with your full weight on a foot if you can feel that someone else is there. You want to leave all the dancers around you with a good impression.