BPATS Resources | Tango Social Protocols & Expectations

Tango Social Etiquette.

The following guidelines of Tango dance etiquette will help you get the most out of your Tango dance experience. It is made up of common sense observations and some aspects
of the etiquette of the milongas porteñas (tango clubs of Buenos Aires), most of which seem like common sense.

Inviting and Accepting a dance (La mirada and El Cabeceo).

La Mirada" and "El Cabeceo" are the traditional method of inviting and accepting a dance in Argentina.
La Mirada is "the look," or "the stare," and can be done by either partner. Once eye contact is made,
El Cabeceo, "the nod" signals the request and is returned as the acceptance.

Start by scanning the room and making eye contact with people you might like to dance with. To get
invited, it helps to show that you want to dance by staying fairly close to the dance floor where
potential dance partners can see you.

However, if you wish to dispense with the protocol and adopt a less formal approach, it's perfectly
OK for either partner to just walk up and ask someone to dance.

If you have come with your own partner, try not to sit with them all the time or people may think you do
not want to dance with anyone else.


Music in Tandas with Cortinas.

Music is generally played in "tandas" or sets of 2 - 4 songs, then a "cortina" (curtain), a 20-30 second
piece of music that is generally not danceable is played to signal the end of the tanda.

It is customary to dance an entire tanda or two with the same partner, then find a new partner during
the cortina.

Note that not all DJ's at all venues play cortinas.


Avoid talking after you start dancing.

After you start dancing, don't talk, chat, teach, or discuss step ,this is frowned upon.
Mostly it prevents you enjoying the music, the embrace of your partner, and it distracts
other dancers from doing the same.

If you want to socialize or chat, please get off the floor. If you want to invite/meet/talk to
somebody across the floor, then go around the floor and don't cut across. It is rude to
the dancers on the floor.

Finish the dance or not.

It is important to be comfortable with whoever you are dancing with. if you are uncomfortable, maybe
because of hygiene, or because you are been thrown around or maybe your foot hurt.
You don't have to continue to the end of a tanda, or even to the end of a song.
Whatever the reason, just stop, explain whatever you want, thank them, and leave the dance floor.


Spend some time dancing with beginners.

It is highly recommended for experienced dancers to spend some time dancing with and
encouraging beginners. Everyone in the dance community benefits from an influx of new
dancers and it helps the dance to grow and evolve.

When dancing with a less experienced person, ensure that you both have a nice and enjoyable
time by adapting your dancing to their abilities. Do not persist on doing complicated moves that
your partner cannot follow or tell your partner what to do, you will make them feel inadequate and


Don’t forget to say Thank you when you're done dancing.

It is customary when you have done dancing with a given partner, for any reason, to say, "Thank you."
This is the signal that you're done and ready to sit out or find another partner. Regardless how much
you might enjoy dancing with someone, avoid thanking them until you're ready to move on, or else you
send a mixed message.



Dancing with someone who has a strong body odour can be very unpleasant, having a bath or a shower
before going out is recommended.. Use perfume and fragrances sparingly as other people may be sensitive.

Try to avoid eating spicy food, with garlic or onion and always brush your teeth before going to a class or
a milonga. It is a good idea to refresh your breath with a mint during the evening.