Want to be able to dance confidently and feel comfortable in traditional milongas of Buenos Aires?
Our bootcamp-style social tango classes develop your musicality, connection, technique & improvisation, as well as your confidence with milonga etiquette.

Friday, 17 April 2009

Códigos de la milonga (milonga etiquette) – Have your say! #2

There are so many situations at the milonga where the codes not only protect one's fragile ego, but also help avoid nasty exhibitions of territoriality. You don't have to examine the códigos de la milonga too closely to see that they acknowledge and guard against all manner of human frailties. This issue has not only provoked discussion, but some dancers have contributed their own scenarios. Here are a few more familiar situations:

Scenario #3
A couple bumps into another couple on the dance-floor. The man should:
  1. Ignore it and keep on dancing - he does it all the time, and doesn't notice it anymore.
  2. Make a signal of apology to the couple and keep dancing.
  3. Stop dancing, approach the couple, and apologise on the dance-floor.
  4. Make a signal of apology to the couple, continue dancing, and approach the couple at the end of the tanda to offer apologies.
  5. Leave it to his partner to do the apologising, because it was she who made contact.

Scenario #4
You are sitting wondering who to ask to dance. You see someone you know, although she's engaged in animated conversation with another man. Do you
  1. Try to catch her eye and if you can't, then refrain?
  2. Walk up to her and ask her if she wishes to dance?
  3. Walk up to them both and engage in conversation, then at a suitable time ask her if she wishes to dance?
  4. Walk up to them both and wait patiently until they give you some attention, then ask her to dance?
A man is leading large open figures which take up a lot of space on a busy dance-floor. They are interfering with the line of dance and he's encouraging his partner to execute moves which are dangerous to couples around them. His partner should
  1. Go along with it and enjoy the ride.
  2. Tell him she feels uncomfortable because she doesn't want to collide with anyone.
  3. At the end of the song, say "Thankyou" and return to her table.
  4. Resist his leads for any dangerous moves.
  5. Dance the whole tanda, but avoid dancing with him again.

What would you do?

Bob & Pat.


  1. Very nice forum!!!

    I think that 2 and 4 are the options depending always of the "degree" of the bump
    number 1 without doubt since it's supposed that the lady also knows the rules of the "game"
    2-3-5 are ok, but exactly which one only depends whether they are friends or occasional dancers

  2. Scenario 1: This question is totally unfair - you have just turned down a dance with the worst, most self opinionated dancer in your town. Then Pablo Veron asks you to dance. Oh yes I am sure every women would say no. I feel the answer to this question is dependent on the situation.

    Scenario 2:Ignore the ‘mistake’ and see it as an opportunity to improvise so that the dance continues without disruption. That is the proof of a good leader.

    Scenario 3:Make a signal of apology to the couple and keep dancing. - A quick acknowledgement of my mistake and a simple apology.

    Scenario 4:In a situation where I didn't know the person - :Try to catch her eye and if you can't, then refrain?
    In a situation where I knew the person, as in Adelaide, I would opt for :Walk up to her and ask her if she wishes to dance?

    Scenario 5:Resist his leads for any dangerous moves. This hopefully will help the leader realise the danger of his dancing.

  3. what about beginner male(leader) dilemma: should he just ask beginner females for dances or can he invite an experienced follower to dance even though he is unsure as to whether she will get anything out of the dance

  4. Fair question, John.

    We think it depends on the situation. At a practica, where those present are there to practise and assist one another, it should be fine to ask anyone. At a milonga, you would be wise to use the cabeceo, in particular with ladies whom you consider more advanced. That way you aren't putting anyone in an awkward position (yourself or the lady). Obviously, even at a practica, the body language will tell you whether the person would like to dance with you.

    Finally, by continuing to work on your skills and sensitivity to the music, you will find that increasingly more ladies will be looking your way!

  5. Oooh, a quiz. What fun!

    My answers:

    Scenario #3: 2, 3 or 4 -- depending on the severity of the collision. (As the follower, I'd also apologise, even if the collision was clearly the fault of my leader or the other couple).

    Scenario #4: 1 (applies to women too)

    Scenario #5: 3. I break tanda for dangerous floorcraft.


Thanks for your comment. All comments are subject to moderation. Don't worry - it won't take long.

Popular posts