Etiquette in Classes/Practicas/Milongas (circa 2006)
If possible, switch partners. It helps you to learn better and faster. Argentine Tango is an improvisational dance; you need to learn how to follow and how to lead. If you always dance with the same person, you might get used to her/him and predict his/her lead.
THE DELAY EFFECT: Lead, wait to make sure that your follower understood the lead. When the follower goes, then you go so you both step at the same time. There is a very short delay between leading, following, and following by the leader.
Try to find a practice partner with whom you practice at least one hour outside the class. It does not need to be the same person every time! Either sex works. It is sometimes better to practice with someone of your same sex to share ‘expertise’, ‘problems’, etc.
Try to keep the line of the dance floor counter clockwise and do not run into other people. Try not to dance in the middle of the floor (as know as 'the shark zone'). Make sure that you protect your partner from collisions. DO NOT GO BACKWARDS
Remember that unsolicited instruction by another student does not help the dynamic of the class/milonga/practica. If you have any questions, please ask the instructor.
Be compassionate. If your partner makes a mistake, don’t say anything and be forgiving.
Shower (wash your teeth/floss) before class/milonga/practica – easy in colognes
Have fun! Don’t forget to enjoy it!!!
A ‘milonga’ also means a social event where people go to dance tango socially.
Try to go in a group of men and women, and promise each other to dance a number of ‘tandas’ so you know you will dance at least a little with friends.
A Tanda is a group of 3-4 tangos/milongas/waltzes generally interpreted by the same orchestra. It is etiquette to dance an entire tanda with the same person. You know that a tanda is over, because there is a “CORTINA” in between. A ‘Cortina” is a short song (30 seconds maximum) which is not tango, and in general is very different from tango that means: it is time to switch partners! Please do not dance to the Cortina.
The difference between a ‘milonga’ and a ‘practica” is the degree of formality. In a milonga, people follow the above rules very closely, and in general they are dressed more formally. In a practica, everything is more informal. There can be instruction involved (but not in the format of a class) and people can stop to try out different moves.
How to ask a woman to dance: it varies according to the location. In Buenos Aires it is rude to go to the table and ask someone to dance. You ask from the distance with a CABECEO. Here it varies. Check the people and observe how other men do it. Personally, I don’t like when men ask me to dance by holding my hand. Remember: when you finish dancing, accompany your partner until you exit the dance floor. You do not need to touch her.