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Tangueros ....listen up

Recommendation when to avoid inviting a woman

I would recommend that you avoid inviting a woman:

When she is eating a meal served at the milonga.   If she's like me, she'll want to finish her meal calmly and freshen up before returning to the dance floor.

When she is having a meaningful conversation.    If she and her friend are chatting lightly with shoulders and eyes facing the dance floor, it is usually means they are available to dance..   It will be easy to make eye contact in this case.  But if her shoulders and eyes are turned toward the other person, they are probably talking about something important to them.   Many women I know consider it rude when someone interrupts such a conversation to invite.

During a cortina.  As I mentioned in my opening example, neither of you knows what music is coming next.  Part of an advanced tanguera's decision about whether to accept an invitation depends on whether she wants to dance to that particular music and with whom she prefers to dance to that music.  More of this factor in a moment!  

She has just arrived at the milonga.   She may enjoy making the rounds and greeting all her friends first.  She may want to watch the dance floor of 15 or 20 minutes to get acclimated, feeling the music and energy in the room, seeing who's dancing, and get revved up!

She has never seen you dance !   Most experienced tangueras don't want to take a risk of feeling uncomfortable in a bad embrace, dancing out of the music, or getting their toes stepped on, or otherwise getting hurt on the dance floor.  (To increase your chances: Let yourself be seen dancing in one of the outer two rings of the line of dance with some of your favorite partners.  Dance simply and calmly, with great wellbeing.  Avoid fancy tricks.  You will make a favorable impression on most tangueras watching you.)

She is looking for something in her purse.  She's either truly seeking something she needs or sending out the message that she's momentarily not available to dance. 

A milonga or vals tanda is playing and it's the first time you would dance with her.  It is wisest for both partners to dance the first time to a simple tango.   If you're one of those rare advanced beginners for whom the milonga comes easier than tango, she doesn't know that, and, based on past experience, doesn't want to risk an unpleasant experience.

For tangueros of all levels:  If this would be your first time dancing together, wait for a tanda of simple tangos.  If you are not very confident about her accepting or about your dancing, you might wait 1-2 tangos into the set so she knows that if it's not comfortable for her it won't last 4 tangos. 

When to Invite an advanced tanguera with whom you have never danced before.

Now here's the message for more advanced tangueros, for whom most of the above is just common sense.  

When to invite an advanced tanguera with whom you have never danced before:

Wait till the music has started and you recongize it as a set of mellow tangos, unless you are truly advanced and extremely confident that you dance well with 10 out of 10 women
.  (But if this is the case you don't need my advice.)   Choose from tandas of uncomplicated tangos by Di Sarli, Fresedo, Calo', Tanturi, Canaro, De Angelis or Troilo with a singer.   Simple rhythmic tangos by Rodriquez, Donato and D'Arienzo can be good too..

For your first invitation, avoid Pugliese, Troilo instrumentals and more challenging D'Arienzo, as well as milongas and valses.   You may be great at these, but unless you've seen her notice and appreciate your tango, she doesn't know your strengths.  Avoid inviting an advanced tanguera who doesn't know you to dance to tango nuevo, like me, she may not like it, or she may not trust you to do it well.  If you're dying to dance dynamically with her because you know it will be fun for you, wait for that invitation until the second tanda that night with that tanguera or some time in the future, when you know she has already enjoyed dancing with you. 

Helaine's general advice

Here is my general advice to increase everyone's acceptance rate with advanced tangueras:

Wait for a tanda of uncomplicated melodic or rhythmic, traditional tangos.

Position yourself in the room a bit of a distance away from your desired partner, where she can easily see your face.

Make sure she looks like she wants to dance this set.

Smile in her direction, and see if whether she looks at you pleasantly or avoids your gaze.

You don't have to use the 'cabeceo' (you've already done the "miranda"); if she looked receptive to you, you can walk to her table and invite her.  If she does not accept , try again later or another evening.

Final comments by the Host of IN-Tango website

These are my additional reflections as a tanguero, Felipe le aleman, and this website's creator and host.

Tangueros, when you enter a milonga, your posture is very important.   Stand up straight, do not slouch as you enter the milonga.   Walk with your head straight ahead and do not gaze at all the tangueras as you enter the milonga.   You will have plenty of chances later to make eye contact.   Let the tangueras look at you as you enter the milonga; they are watching.

Secondly, when you sit down, put on your shoes, but slowly. Look only at the floor and not at the tangueras, not just yet.   You should not look like you are in rush to get out onto the floor.  Be calm and confident and show this by your preparation.   You have just arrived at the milonga, and as Helaine mentioned above, just like the tangueras you too may want to watch the dance floor for 15 or 20 minutes to get acclimated, feeling the music and energy in the room, see who is dancing, how they are dancing, and get revved up.  

Over-eagerness by the tanguero shows quickly to the tangueras that you are a beginner.  Be patient and wait for the openings to come to give invitations and have them accepted.  You do not want to look like you are "in need", "pleading" for a dance.   Be patient and be confident.

After a tanda is completed and you thank your partner and maybe walk her back to her chair, remember to continue to stand tall and straight as you return to your chair.   All the tangueras are watching you, your appearance is very important.    And this advice also goes for the tangueras as you return to your seat, how you walk is important.   Your appearance is just as important to the tanguero. 

I wish to thank Helaine Treitman for allowing me permission to enter her fine article on the IN-Tango website.   I hope the article helps us all to enjoy more our evenings at the milongas all around the world.
Felipe el alema'n