There are many forms of Tango of which Salon Tango is the style most commonly, with its open embrace it gives you an opportunity to get to know your partner and learn the limits of closeness at which they are comfortable to dance.
Asking people to dance
In tango, in its most traditional form, a man will ask a woman to dance through subtle eye contact. If the woman does not want to dance, she will simply look away.
Today people tend to be more direct and women are as free to ask as a man as it is traditionally. However guys, still there are women who expect the gentleman to ask.
Accepting and declining dances
It’s ok to decline a dance; though, since it can be a blow to the asker’s ego, it’s nice to accept dances as much as possible, especially from newcomers and beginners. Having declined a dance, it is good etiquette to not dance that same song with someone else.
Tandas and cortinas
Music at a milongas are often arranged in tandas (sets of 3 or 4 songs) with a cortina (a short piece of non-danceable music) played in between each tanda.
If you accept a dance from someone, you are expected to dance with that person for the rest of the tanda. If you do not finish the tanda, it is interpreted as a very dramatic gesture that you did not like dancing with that person.
When the cortina plays, it is good practice to leave the floor, even if you intend to dance the next tanda with the same person. Saying “thank you” is the signal that you are finished dancing with your current partner.
Flow of the Floor
A social dance floor moves counter-clockwise, and attention to this movement is just as important as attention to your partner.
Try not to stop in one place for a long time. If there’s space open in front of you, try to fill it. If you can’t keep up with the flow, try to dance in the middle of the circle.
It is not appropriate to zigzag around haphazardly, disrupting other couples, nor venture in to high kicks, spins lifts and jumps – save this for an empty floor.
Special responsibility for leaders
Leads (normally the man), it is your responsibility to protect your partner. Keep your attention on your partner while you dance, and watch the dance floor to avoid collisions with other couples.
In theory, a follow (normally the lady) should be able to dance with their eyes closed and not have to worry about being banging into anything, well that’s the theory.
Dance to the situation
Due to its diversity and style, Tango can be tailored to the situation with flexibility to dance in a way that will fit in the space that you have. A crowded social floor is probably not the best place to perform boleos or gaunchos.
Know your skill level. It’s ok to be a beginner, we were all there once and we all still have much to learn. However, in a social setting, it’s best to stick to what you know and the level of your partner is. Simple movement done well is far more enjoyable and impressive than complex movement done poorly.
Separate practice time and social dance time
A milonga is a social event. It is a time to relax and enjoy your dancing and your fellow dancers. It is not really the right time to ask for or give advice or work on “new moves”. You should set aside other time for practicing, either on your own, with a friend, or at a organized tango class
Principles of common courtesy do not go out the window just because you’re dancing. Be considerate of other couples on the floor. If you step on someone’s toes say “excuse me” don’t pretend it didn’t happen.
Its hot out there on the dance floor,….so take it easy and try not to over do it. Close up and personal to a hot sweaty partner is not every ones dream night out so be prepared bring a towel and even a chance of cloths if need be, skip out a few dances and watch, it’s not a work out nor is it a disco.
Enjoy and have fun!