Milonga 101 - Dance with me?

So, you have been taking tango classes for a couple of weeks, you know a few steps, and you feel like going to a milonga, or tango party. Are you sure you ready? To take on the dance floor you need to know more then the basic step.

No worries. In this article you will learn the basics codes and rules of a milonga.


To dance tango socially you need to know more then the steps. Not only are you dancing with your partner, you are dancing with all the other couples. You are even dancing with the tables! So first and foremost you need to respect the floor and your peers. Never forget to keep an eye on your surroundings as well as maintaining enough space for you to share with your partner. By the nature of the dance this is mainly a task for the leader.


Tango events can be very traditional or take place at relaxed venues, but even when the party is more relaxed the direction in which you dance is universal. You dance anti-clockwise, all couples forming a circle. This is called a Ronda or line of dance. Going backwards is very frowned upon, so don't do it! If the couple in front of you is not moving dance in place or take side-steps.


In traditional milongas all music comes in sets of three or four songs that are called Tandas. In between tandas it is played a short song from a different genre. This short song is called a Cortina. Cortina literally means curtain. You are expected to finish dancing a tanda with the same partner, and it is a little rude to leave the floor before the tanda ends. If you are going to dance with a new partner, and you are not sure if you are a good fit, it is better to go to the floor mid-tanda, so that you can still finish properly.

In some modern milongas, sometimes tandas are not played. Even then is expected that you dance two to three dances with the same partner.
When you feel like stop dancing a polite thank you addressed to your partner will excuse you from the floor.

Proper shoes

If you are serious about dancing tango you should consider investing in a good pair of tango shoes. If you don't own tango shoes you should choose comfortable shoes to dance, that have a bit of slide. For the ladies is important that the shoes have high-heels.

To avoid

  • No matter how relaxed the party is, the dance floor is never the place to teach or practice steps with your partner. Save it for practicas!

  • Don't monopolize your partner. It is a social dance party, not a date. Enjoy dancing with different people.

  • Don't talk while dancing! Stay in the moment and enjoy the dance. Save the conversation for when the music stops.

How are the milongas you usually visit? Share your experiences in the comment box below.

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