TANGO DANCE ETIQUETTE MADE SIMPLE…

Welcome!

Here you will find the most experienced, exciting and creative dancers in the country. We also like to think that, including the bartenders, we have the friendliest people of any milonga in the country. At 720 we continue to study with the many visiting and resident world class Tango Teachers; in addition, we mentor, encourage and educate the new and beginning dancers. If you are a first timer to our club, you are new to partner dancing or you are coming from a swing or salsa background, this etiquette guide will help to ensure that your first and continuing experiences at Tango will be pleasant.

Tango dancers are a family. As in all families, some are great and you love to be around them, while other family members are dysfunctional but you have to visit them anyway. So it goes with Tango. Welcome to the Family.

 

Guys’ Issues:

Issue #1: “I don’t have a partner. How can I practice and get better as a dancer?”

Issue #2: “I bump into people as I go around the floor.”

Issue #3: “How do I ask a woman to dance?”

Issue #4: “How do I ask a woman to dance when a couple is in involved?”

[read more="Click here for solutions" less="Read Less"]Guy's Issues

Issue #1: “I don’t have a partner. How can I practice and get better as a dancer?”

Solutions:

a. In this welcome package there are more than twenty instructors listed. Get in a group class and meet OTHER students who want to practice.

b. Take the free class at 720 every Tuesday starting at 7:30p.m. and meet people interested in dancing.

c. No partner is necessary. Every Tuesday come and dance; ask new people to dance. Let the Tuesday dances reinforce past and current classes you might take by being the practical application of your Tango education.

 

Issue #2: “I bump into people as I go around the floor.”

Solutions:

a. First step, apologize immediately to the people you bumped.

b. Try basics without ochos and figures until your navigation skills improve.

c. Don’t forget that that the loft or mezzanine area above the bar is a great practice area to firm up your skills.

d. Don’t be afraid to ask dancers how something is done when you are sure you are not interrupting them.

e. Keep your head up and don’t watch your feet.

 

Issue #3: “How do I ask a woman to dance?”

Solutions:

a. Identify women whose dancing level is at about your level and ask them to dance.

b. Identify women who dance with a variety of partners of all levels and approach them. (You might want to let them know that you are a beginner.)

c. Get to know club members and let them introduce you to the women that you would like to dance with.

e. Ask any welcoming committee members for dance cards.

 

Issue #4: “How do I ask a woman to dance when a couple is in involved?”

Solutions:

a. If the couple is sitting together, ask the woman’s partner if he will let you borrow his “other half” for a dance or two. Be friendly but not flirtatious and avoid dance moves that are sexually suggestive.

b. If the couple is dancing with different people, feel free to ask the woman to dance without the permission of her other half.

c. Take your current partner and ask if you can swap your partner for her partner for a dance or two.

d. Avoid monopolizing anyone’s partner with multiple dances.

e. If the woman’s significant other seems unwilling to share, play it safe and ask someone else.

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Women’s Issues:

Issue #1: “May I, Should I, Can I, ask a man to dance?”

Issue #2: “How do I ask a man when he’s the other half of a couple?”

[read more="Click here for solutions" less="Read Less"] Women's Issues 

Issue #1: “May I, Should I, Can I, ask a man to dance?”

Solutions:

(In Argentina, both women and men do the code of asking one to dance with the eyes. Because we like to think that women dancing in the U.S. should have the same opportunities as their male leaders, below are ways to approach this sensitive topic.)

a. Ask the men that are dancing at your level, or who are dancing with women of all levels.

b. Don’t limit yourself by asking men of certain height, weight or age. Men of all shapes and sizes can be lots of fun to dance with.

c. Ask club members to introduce you to possible dance partners and below are a few suggestions:

1. A smile, handshake and introduction can go a long way to melt the ice.

2. “I’m new to tango, I really like this song, would you like to dance?”

3. “My name is_______, I don’t think we have ever danced; when you hear a song you like, can we dance?”

4. “I have a dance card with your name on it, would you like to dance this song or then next?"

Don’t be shy – tango women ask tango men to dance all the time all over the world! Remember, ladies, some men are shy and fear rejection as much as any woman and once they have been asked to dance they will come back many times to ask you to dance, when they know they won’t be refused.

 

Issue #2: “How do I ask a man when he’s the other half of a couple?”

Solutions:

a. Ask the woman if she would mind lending you her significant other for a dance or two.

b. If the man is dancing openly with other women, there is no need for permissions.

c. Take your current partner and ask if you can swap your partner for her partner for a dance or two.

d. When you know there is a significant other, be friendly but not flirtatious when asking the man for a dance.

e. Avoid dance moves that are sexually suggestive and may be offensive to the partner that is watching.

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Legitimate reasons for women refusing to dance:

1. You are tired, not feeling well or in need of a restroom break. (Though most men will understand, some may interpret the above reasons as a personal rejection and they might not ask you to dance ever again.)

2. The man who asks you to dance may have had too much to drink.

3. The man who asks you to dance touches you inappropriately or makes suggestive sexual remarks while on the dance floor.

4. You are subjected to a lesson on the dance floor, he chatters constantly through the entire song or treats the dance with you as his private performance, not giving you the opportunity to contribute creatively.

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1. You are tired, not feeling well or in need of a restroom break. (Though most men will understand, some may interpret the above reasons as a personal rejection and they might not ask you to dance ever again.)

Solution:

a. After you have perked up, gotten your second wind, or returned from the potty, make sure you acknowledge and dance with any and all men you refused before honoring any new dance requests.

 

2. The man who asks you to dance may have had too much to drink.

Solutions:

a. If you don’t want to end up on the floor, it is wise to say, “I’m sorry, could we dance before you start drinking in the future?”

b. Dance with someone who hasn’t compromised his/her sense of balance; tango is difficult enough without alcohol.

 

3. The man who asks you to dance touches you inappropriately or makes suggestive sexual remarks while on the dance floor.

Solutions:

a. Don’t be afraid to be direct and it is fine for you to indicate that such behavior is unacceptable; you may want to avoid this person in the future if after a second chance he exhibits the same behavior.

b. If you are not comfortable talking to the person, mention it to another member of the tango family to intervene on your behalf. This type of person is most likely new to our regular tango family, so he needs to be educated in tango etiquette. As he gets to view the women he dances with as people rather than objects, his behavior will improve.

 

4. You are subjected to a lesson on the dance floor, he chatters constantly through the entire song or treats the dance with you as his private performance, not giving you the opportunity to contribute creatively.

Solutions: Say to the person…

a. “I really enjoy it when you communicate with me silently, it helps me to hear the music much better.

b.” I really enjoy it when we are communicating together and you lead me into steps that will allow me to express myself more creatively.”

c. “I will attempt to follow you based on your lead, but if I’m not following as you would expect, can we enter into discussion after we exit the dance floor?”

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Legitimate reasons for men refusing to dance:

1. The woman typically does not follow or she counter leads.

2. During the dance, the woman is always complaining that you are using too much force or that holding her too tightly or manhandling her.

3. The woman has a poor sense of balance, leans too heavily on you and doesn’t display good follower’s techniques.

4. The woman gives a reason for not dancing; however, minutes later, she dances with other individuals.

5. The woman who asks you to dance may have had too much to drink.

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1. The woman typically does not follow or she counter leads.

Solution:

a. After leaving the dance floor ask the woman if she had problems understanding your lead and how she would like you to communicate and/or demonstrate the best techniques for her to follow your lead.

 

2. During the dance, the woman is always complaining that you are using too much force or that holding her too tightly or manhandling her.

Solution:

a. Say to your partner, I’m trying to make our dance enjoyable for you –“let me know immediately if I am squeezing your hand, holding you too tightly or being to rough and I will correct it immediately.”

(If one woman complains, there may be 10 more who won’t dance with you for the same reasons. Better to work the problems out as you hear about them and don’t let the critique hurt your ego.)

 

3. The woman has a poor sense of balance, leans too heavily on you and doesn’t display good follower’s techniques.

Solutions:

a. The easiest way to deal with this is to hold the woman as lightly as possible and to stay distant from her in the open position. This will force her to maintain balance without depending on you to hold her up.

b. Introduce her to a seasoned follower whom you enjoy dancing with who will mentor her with good tips and suggestions.

c. Say to the person, “ I really enjoyed dancing with you. May I recommend an instructor or two who can help you explore a few technique issues?”

 

4. The woman gives a reason for not dancing; however, minutes later, she dances with other individuals.

Solution/Suggestion:

a. If you feel generous or emotionally enabled and don’t mind risking humiliation, you may give her a second chance. Ladies, there is no excuse; this a fatal flaw that gets worse and worse as more people witness it. To avoid this no win situation honor all dance requests or you may never be asked to dance again, ever!

 

5. The woman who asks you to dance may have had too much to drink.

Solutions:

a. If you don’t want to end up on the floor, it is wise to say, “I’m sorry could we dance before you start drinking in the future?”

b. Dance with someone who hasn’t compromised his/her sense of balance; Tango is difficult enough without alcohol.

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General Issues: Male/Female

1. What to say if you don’t like the music.

2. What to do when you postpone or delay a dance with a person.

3. What to say when you have to leave and dance a particular song with the person you came with, while dancing a tanda with someone else. (A tanda is a group of four or five songs grouped by orchestra and in Argentina it is considered polite to dance the complete tanda with your partner; in the U.S., there are a number of factors which at times make this impractical.)

4. What do I say when presenting a dance card?

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1. What to say if you don’t like the music.

Solutions:

a. “I would like to dance with you when the music changes.”

b. “I’m afraid I don’t like this particular song – could we have the next waltz?”

c. “I haven’t mastered the milonga yet – could you reserve a tango for me?”

d. “This is too fast for me – could you wait for something slower?”

When the right song comes on, make sure you take care of your dance commitment with the person that you postponed.

 

2. What to do when you postpone or delay a dance with a person.

Solutions:

a. Take the initiative and go over to the person when he/she is not dancing and say, “Thank you for waiting. I’m ready for the next dance, whenever it is convenient.”

b. If the evening goes by and you don’t have the opportunity to redeem the dance, try to acknowledge that you would look forward to dancing with them at the next milonga.

 

3. What to say when you have to leave and dance a particular song with the person you came with, while dancing a tanda with someone else. (A tanda is a group of four or five songs grouped by orchestra and in Argentina it is considered polite to dance the complete tanda with your partner; in the U.S., there are a number of factors which at times make this impractical.)

Solutions:

a. “I’m sorry to disappoint you, but I always dance this particular song with________”.

b. “Would you mind waiting for the next tango? My partner expects to dance with me during this song.”

c. “I know this interrupts things, but my partner will be disappointed if we don’t dance this particular song.”

d. The best solution is to prep the person you are dancing with beforehand so there are no surprises or disappointments later.

 

4. What do I say when presenting a dance card?

Suggestions:

a. “I have your card – when you like to dance with me?”

b. “My name is _____; I have your dance card. “When will you have time to dance with me?”

c. “Hi, we’ve never danced but I have your dance card – do you prefer a tango or a waltz?”

d. “Hi, I’ve been holding you dance card, but you seem pretty busy – when would be a good time to dance with you?”

e. If the person is too busy, either keep the dance card for the following week or trade it in for someone else.

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BODY ODOR-HYGIENE AND FRIENDSHIP
Argentine Tango is both social and intimate in nature. As obvious as this statement is, the simple basics become one of the most overlooked problems for both leaders & followers alike. Many people that don't smoke usually gag when they embrace a partner that does smoke, smelling the stale tobacco stench on their breath, clothing, and in their hair 5 feet away. The same is true when we dance or socialize or attempt to enjoy the company of dancers with poor hygiene. For all Tango dancers to have a pleasant experience attention to our hygiene and grooming is absolutely necessary! All recommendations below have been contributed through e-mails by women or men at tango that have met with some unpleasantries.

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a. If you smoke, drink alcohol, eat garlic, onions, peppers, polish sausage, fish, Doritos etc. before you come to dance please understand that some people may be offended by the smell of the very food you just enjoyed still lingering on your breath, so brush, gargle or use lots of gum and breath mints frequently.

b. Make certain that after a hard day of work or play that you shower or bathe before continuing your day with Tango and with people that have been scrubbing up all week anticipating passion & great smelling partners.

c. Ladies, long hair is certainly sensuous but some guys resent having to munch hair all nite. Well the ones that have a problem with hair in their face say that women would have the same issue if the hair under the man's arm pit or on his chest was hitting the women in the face eek o!!! Of course the tango partners that love you don't care how much hair is in their faces; they just want to be close. A barrette, bobby pin or rubber band should do the trick.

d. Deodorant, Cologne, Hair Spray, Lotion, Perfume, Body Powder, are lovely within reason but if we wear our only party outfit that still reeks of smoke from last weeks dance all the cosmetics above without clean clothing won't help!

e. The second biggest complaint after body odor from the ladies about men is that the guys are soaking wet. Gentlemen, as you know, to sweat is a very healthy thing. It means that we are working hard to keep our Tango wives happy on the dance floor, however, remember to bring a towel and a couple changes of tops so that the great leading that we are doing isn't getting lost in the soggy clothes.

f. The second biggest complaint that has been e-mailed from women about women is that the ladies are forgetting to wash their hands in the wash room. No, no, ladies just spraying a little perfume or using scented lotion does not take the place of soap & water. Ladies and Gents, if you have watched the news you already know that most of the millions of pounds in food recalls and digestive tract illness has come from some food factory or restaurant employee not washing their hands after their bathroom break. So remember we hold hands with a lot of people all nite that might not understand how important it is to wash so let's wash our hand often or use one of the instant hand washes in a bottle.

g. For the ladies who wear short sleeves or sleeveless tops remember if you sweat a lot the poor guys whose embrace requires them to hold you under your arm pit and around your back will feel the wetness if you don't use a anti-perspirant. There are many available choices. Carefully pick a product that works.

h. Finally guys and gals, if by chance somebody asks if you forgot your perfume or cologne or offers you a mint or a stick of gum don't assume that they are just being polite. Do a "sniff test" to see if you need cologne or deodorant and definitely take the mint -- these will probably be the most subtle hints you will get !!!

1. If you need to confront someone about a hygiene issue here are some ways to go about it.

a. Speak to the person directly.

b. Give the person a subtle hint.

c. Ask a friend of the offending person to mention the problem.

d. Offer the person a new container of deodorant or breath mints.

e. Recommend that the person looks at our link on this page called "How To be A Good Friend."

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Copyright @ by Al Gates/TangoChicago, 2016

All rights reserved.