Tango Factbites: Budding Milonguero Series

If you are still a bit milonga-shy and are wondering about how to invite someone you’ve never danced with before, here are a few tips to make it easier! It’s not that hard, really. Being courteous and smiling are probably the best possible tips.

Of course, these tips might apply to inviting someone you already know, except if you know them well enough to invite them with a poke, a wink or a smile!

Pay attention to his or her body language: Does the person you want to invite look like they’re ready for another dance or would they rather put their feet up for one tanda? If you’ve never danced with them before, you probably want to put all chances on your side by picking the right time.

Catch him or her when they look available: It’s not very polite to interrupt someone who’s deeply absorbed in a conversation. I was once chatting with a milonguero friend in Canning, one of the nicest milongas in Buenos Aires and someone nodded towards me, over my friend’s head to invite me. My friend was far from being impressed!

Go for gold: Definitely invite a new partner for a tango tanda, not a vals or a milonga, which require a stronger connexion. Also best wait for a tanda that you find inspiring. Some people talk about the “Golden tango triangle” – the right music, the right partner, the right dancefloor. If avoidable, it’s better not to start with a new partner on a “silver” or even worse, a “bronze” triangle.

Put all chances on your side: Good dancers can tell how good someone is only by the way they hold themselves and walk. In a word, better look confident and assured as you ask for a dance. Take your best tango posture and go for it with a smile!

Be flexible: In Buenos Aires, invitations are done solely by “cabeceo”, a focused nod from the gentleman to the lady. In London however, things are more flexible. Observe if the person you want to invite seems to respond to cabeceo and / or if they accept invites from dancers walking up to them and adjust!

Mitigate risks: In Buenos Aires, it is customary for gentlemen to invite a new partner on the second or third song of the tanda, rather than at the start. Because if it doesn’t go too well, you’ve got fewer songs to dance together and if it goes well, hopefully it’s reciprocal and you’ll get more tandas together later.

Smile! Easily done and works marvels!

By the way, in Buenos Aires, gentlemen initiate the invite and ladies accept or reject it. Things are changing in London, because what was the proper when tango started in Buenos Aires might not feel applicable to us now. Times have changed. At Milonguita, and at our milonga Los Angelitos, we’ve bent the rules a bit and made it simpler: both ladies and gentlemen can initiate the invite.

See you soon on the dancefloor,

Nati y Bruno