Tango FAQ

What is a Milonga?

The term “Milonga” has two main meanings:
1) A style of Tango that is danced at a fast tempo.
2) A Tango event or dance.

What is the difference between Argentine Tango and Ballroom Tango?

Argentine and ballroom tango are totally different dances, each with its own distinct body of music and beauty. Ballroom tango is very structured around memorized patterns of steps and is often choreographed and danced either as a performance or in competition. It tends to be very stylized and theatrical.

Argentine tango is primarily a social dance. There are no patterns or steps to memorize, rather the entire dance is improvised around basic principles of leading and following. Though it can be choreographed and/or performed in a beautiful and dramatic way, its emphasis is on the potential for intimate connection and communication between partners.

I don’t have a partner, do I need one?

No, there are always people to dance with at tango events, and it’s perfectly acceptable to come solo. Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to people.

What are the best shoes to wear for dancing?

Comfort is paramount. Find a pair of shoes that fit well and are secure to your feet (nothing that will slip off easily). The sole should be neither slippery nor sticky — suede or leather work best. Avoid rubber soled shoes – they can stick while you are trying to move quickly or turn, causing you to wrench your knees.

There are several ways to find suitable shoes. First, you can invest in a pair of nice, leather soled dress shoes from your local shoe store. Second, check out dance supply stores or catalogues for ballroom dance shoes – they work just fine for tango. A third, somewhat cheaper option, is to get a pair of jazz shoes (not as dressy/flashy, but certainly functional), again from a dance supply store. Finally, if you want authentic tango shoes, check the internet, travel to a festival (there’s almost always a shoe vendor present), or wait for someone from the community to travel to Argentina and bring some back.

What do I wear to dances?

Most Milonga venues don’t have a strict dress code, therefore this is a matter of personal taste and judgment. A pair of nice slacks and shirt are always acceptable for both men and women. Dances can be a fun opportunity to dress up, though. Many women enjoy wearing flowing material because its movement accentuates their dancing. If you’re in the mood to go all out, fee free to throw on a pair of fishnets and a red dress!

For practicas and class, there’s no need to dress up. Most people wear work-out type clothes, but anything is acceptable as long as it does not restrict your movement or get in the way.

Is it all right for a girl to ask a guy to dance?

Yes! It’s very simple – girls that don’t ask won’t dance as much as girls who do. Everyone from beginner to advanced dancers love to dance, so go ahead and ask.

Will the better tango dancers dance with me or will I get turned down?

The tango scene is pretty welcoming – and rest assured that you will not be only beginner there. Regulars are always glad to dance with beginners since they all remember what it felt like when they first began to dance. Besides, enjoying a dance is far less dependent on how “advanced” the movement is than on how pleasant the connection is. If you are friendly and enthusiastic about tango, people will want to dance with you.

What is the best way to become a better dancer?

• Practice, practice, practice.
• Dance (a lot) with various partners.
• Take classes/workshops/privates from dancers/instructors that inspire you.
• Seek feedback about your dancing.
• Explore both sides of dancing – leading and following.
• Pursue your own style.
• Don’t lose sight of why you started dancing.
• Have fun.

Is tango music all the same?

No. Tango music has developed over a long time. It has a rich history and continues to develop today. However, it is an integral part of the dance, so you should take the time to familiarize yourself with different composers and find a style that resonates with you.

There are two variations on tango music – waltz and milonga. Waltz refers specifically to tango music written in ¾ time (so it has a “1-2-3, 1-2-3” feel to it). Milonga is a type of tango that tends to be fast and syncopated.

Much of the tango music composed today has a more funky, modern sound. This music is often referred to as “Nuevo tango” or “Neo tango.” Finally, many dancers enjoy dancing tango to non-tango music, such as current pop music. When this music is played at a dance, people often refer to it as “Alternative tango.”

What is a Tango Festival?

Throughout the year, various cities host Tango festivals. A festival is usually a long weekend full of workshops, practicas, and milongas. Dancers come from all over the country (and sometimes the world) to share their knowledge and dance with each other. Attending a festival is a great way to meet fellow enthusiasts and get exposure to different styles and new trends in tango dance.

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