The Etiquette of Tango

The Tanda –

Music is organized into groups of 3 or 4 songs of the same general type called a Tanda. Perhaps from the same composer or type of music (Milonga, Vals, etc.). If you ask someone to dance, it is considered polite to dance the entire Tanda.

The Cortina-

Tandas are separated by a short interlude of different music called a Cortina. During the cortina, couples clear the floor and seek another partner. This is the time during which it is easiest to make eye contact with another partner (see Asking for a dance) or to find a chair and rest.

Out of respect for the tradition of the dance, PLEASE CLEAR THE FLOOR AND DO NOT DANCE DURING THE CORTINA.

Asking for a dance –

The traditional way to ask for a dance is to make eye contact. The asker uses a subtle head nod toward the partner with whom he wishes to dance. This is known as the “Cabeza”. If the partner wishes to accept the invitation, she will nod back. If she wishes to decline, she will generally look down or away. In Argentina, men do the asking, however, in many communities outside of Argentina, it is acceptable for either party to ask.

General Guidelines –

The following are general etiquette guidelines.

1. Tango is danced in a line-of-dance, counter-clockwise manner. The floor is dividided into 3 lanes. The outermost lane is for general dancing. The next lane is for passing and is used by couples moving past others in the dancing lane. The center lane is for more involved patterns that take more space. Once completed, the couple will rejoin the other traffic.

2. If you’re not dancing, avoid collisions by not using the dance floor to move around.

3. It is considered bad etiqutte to teach or instruct on the dance floor even when asked for.

4. Be aware and condiserate of other on the dance floor. Movements against line of dance can sometimes be dangerouse as can large and flambouyant movements.

5. Remember that you are at a Milonga for a social experience. Try to be sensitive of others feelings.

6. Tango is a close contact experience, therefore good hygiene is essential. In that regard, use colognes and perfumes sparingly and breath fresheners frequently.

Lastly, have fun!

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