This is part 3 of our series of blogs about adjusting from choreographies or stage dancing to improvised tango.

Read on part 1 and part 2.


Q: How do I know what my partner’s going to do?

A: The simple answer is: you don’t until they actually do it. However you can adapt.

If you are a leader, your partner is going to do one of two things. They will either 1) do what you intended for them to do (which is the preferred option), or 2) not. Whichever case, you will soon learn to adapt and be able to think on the spot about how to move on from this. The more you practice tango, the more naturally your responses will be until you no longer plan anything in your head; it just happens.

Followers; you quite simply don’t know what your partner will do. All you can do is be alert and reactive, and try not to think too much. Feeling is much better and more accurate than thinking. So whatever you feel they want you to do: do. If you feel you’ve misunderstood, no worries, it’s part of the ‘tango conversation’. Simply come back to natural position and let your partner readjust his lead and carry on.

My advice to both leaders and followers if you’re new to spontaneous partner dancing: is to relax. Take a few deep breaths and remember that you’re not on stage, so if there are misunderstandings, it will stay between you two so there really isn’t anything to worry or get embarrassed about.

Q: Should I wear stage make-up?

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A: Make-up is a very personal thing so I cannot tell you what to do, although my response would be no. When at a social dance you are not on stage so there is no stage lighting to make you look washed out. Wearing your usual evening make-up will be fine, or if you’d like to really make an impact there are two key cosmetics you could try.


One, would be wearing dark eye shadow or eye liner. The lights are very dimmed at milongas so the darkened border around your eyes will make them stand out. The second is to apply a bright or deep red lipstick. This will have a powerful impact no matter what the lighting situation is, and it’s very passionate and well; tango. Remember though, ultimately you are in the dark – so wearing a bright red tango dress might work better than lipstick!

Part 4 – published Dec. 16.

Have a browse at our Argentine tango classes if you think you’d like to give it a try.

See you soon on the dancefloor!

Nathalie and Emma
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