Floor Craft & Etiquette
Although "milonga" is a style of Argentine dance as well as a style of Argentine music, it is also the term used to indicate an Argentine Tango dance event.
Below are some milonga "rules of floor craft and etiquette" to help all dancers to enjoy the event.
1. Ask before merging
Before stepping onto a crowded dance floor, if you are a leader, make eye contact with the leader whom you wish to enter the floor in front of. The leader should understand your request and indicate their awareness of you with a nod or other visual cue. Then you may then enter the line of dance. It is also important as a leader already dancing that you pay attention to those who might be entering the dance floor.
2. Maintain a lane
Argentine tango is normally danced in circular lanes with couples advancing around the room in a counterclockwise direction called a “line of dance”. There may be on or more lanes moving at the same time. Avoid changing lanes during the dance. Typically the more advanced dancers stay on the most outside lane and beginner dancers stay in the inside lanes or even the center of the dance floor, if they haven't yet learned to flow with the rest of the dancers.
3. Be cautious backing up
Avoid stepping backwards against traffic blindly. The dancer behind you may have already begun advancing into the space behind you. If you do step back, normally no more than one step backwards.
4. Avoid passing
If the dancer in front of you is advancing more slowly than you would like, alter your dance so that it is more circular and less linear. You can do this by simply utilizing the molinete or giro.
5. Never zigzag
Cutting in and out of line of dance can be very disturbing to other dancers. If you choose to dance in the center of the room, remain there throughout the song. If you dance in a given lane, finish the dance in that same lane.
6. No stopping to talk
Standing and chatting with your partner between songs is fine, but stay aware of when the couples around you start dancing again and move accordingly. If you need to continue your conversation when the dancers start moving, then step off the floor.
7. Avoid talking, just dance :-)
Some dancers consider talking while dancing inconsiderate, and can be distracting to your partner or other dancers. It is best to the conversation for when the music stops.
8. Don’t monopolize the space
There are many styles of tango. Some require a relatively large amount of floor space, and some require less. All styles are fine under the right conditions. If a floor is crowded, dance small, not taking up any more space than that of your fellow dancers.
9. "Go with the Flow"
Go with the flow of the other dancers, to not allow gaps to form in the line of dance in front of you. When the music begins, start dancing when the majority of other dancers do.
10. Avoid dangerous moves
Certain moves, such as high boleos and ganchos, or abrupt speeding and stopping can be dangerous on a crowded floor. Save all that for less crowded conditions.
11. Never teach or correct your partner
Teaching or correcting your partner at a milonga is very inappropriate, demeaning and rude. There is is no perfect dance, and no perfect partner. Everyone goes to a milonga expecting to have fun and a nice social experience. so make that happen for your partner by simply thanking them at the end of a tanda and/or perhaps complimenting them on how much you enjoyed dancing with them.
12. Finish the "tanda"
A tanda is several songs of the same style of music such as 3-4 tangos, 3-4 vals, 3-4 milongas. There is a "cortina" or curtain of a different style music, other than tango, to indicate the end of a tanda. It is expected that we dance all of the 3-4 songs of a tanda with the same dance partner. It is rude and poor etiquette to not finish out the tanda with the same partner. Exceptions might be if that partner is very rude or perhaps inconsiderate. Normally even if you are not having a "wonderful experience" with that partner, you should finish out the tanda, thank your partner, and look forward to dancing with someone else later.
13. The "cabeceo"
The traditional way to ask a person to dance is with the cabeceo, an invitation and acceptance ritual executed entirely with the eyes. You first get a dancer’s attention by looking at them with a nod or smile. If they nod back, smile or just maintain eye contact, they have accepted your invitation to dance. If they look away then they has refused your offer. The advantage of using cabeceo is that is less obvious embarrassment about declining a dance or being turned down.