Home >> Our Milongas & DJing >> Dance Floor Etiquette
Before you read this article, make sure to read its companion article: General Milonga Etiquette

When we dance tango we are dancing with our partner, the music, the floor and the other dancers on that floor.  Do not think of them as objects to be avoided but rather as fellow participants that you are sharing the dance with. Also, even when all of the skills below are exercised, know that mistakes and accidents do happen. The ideas expressed below are guidelines and not strict rules. The reason for these guidelines is so that everyone can have fun while dancing without interfering with the fun of others. These skills are called "Floorcraft."

Four Areas of Floorcraft:

    1. Dance floor etiquette
    2. Navigational skills
    3. Partnering skills
    4. Vocabulary

1. Dance Floor Etiquette

2. Navigational Skills

3. Partnering Skills

4. Vocabulary

Conflict resolution: People will get in your way and will brush up against you and will even collide into you sometimes. Please be polite and forgiving especially if they are  newer dancers, who could be easily scared away from the dance. If you do have a serious issue with someone, talk to them in private and explain your complaint with them politely rather than making faces or being aggressive on the dance floor.

Please share these ideas with your fellow dancers. Do not lecture them, but if someone comments to you that they have trouble dancing in tight spaces then share these ideas with them or point them to our website to download this document.

Questions and Answers:

Q: I do all kinds of crazy things on even crowded dance floors and move in and out of lanes and never bump into anyone. Do I still need to follow your rules?
A: Just because you don’t run into people does not mean that you are not interfering with their dance. Many times I start doing something and have to abort it because of someone flying towards me or moving into my lane. When I pick a lane at the beginning of a tanda I expect to have the same couple in front of me and behind me during the whole tanda.

Q: I lead/followed a high boleo and it hit someone during the dance. What should I do?
A: Apologize. Just say, “I am sorry for that.”

Q: I am a new dancer and I keep making mistakes when dancing and I fear that people might stop dancing with me. Should I warn them before I dance with them? Should I apologize each time I make a mistake?
A: We were all beginners at one time. As long as you are nice, polite and have decent posture then people will enjoy dancing with you. Most people in a tango community are aware of who the beginner dancers are so you should not have to announce that you are a beginner. I think you should only apologize if you came into contact with the other person. Generally there are no mistakes in tango, only opportunities for something else to happen. If you make a misstep, an experienced leader or follower will simply adjust and make something out of it.

Q: I have been dancing for many years. I don’t take classes and people seem to avoid dancing with me. What should I do?
A: Find a good teacher in your area and ask their opinion. Be nice and learn good solid posture, technique and an interesting vocabulary and people will want to dance with you.

Q: This one guy keeps looking at me and giving me dirty looks whenever I dance near him?
A: First, take a look at yourself. Are you taking back steps or leading your follow to take steps against the line of dance? Are you crowding up very close behind him and/or are you moving in and out of his lane? If you are not doing any of the above things, I would not worry about it. Maybe he just does not like the way you dance. Oh well, that happens. If you are really concerned with it, ask him.

Q: I am not there to dance with the other people. I just want to do my thing.
A: Well.. frankly, tango might not be for you or you might want to think about finding a dance partner and work with them to do some performance dancing, but if you want to come to milongas then you need to be willing to dance with the other couples.

Q: Some dancers cause me physical pain when I dance with them. Is it ok to refuse their offers of a dance?
A: Yes... you should never feel discomfort. In fact, if you are in physical pain, this is one of the few reasons that I can think of to stop dancing during a tanda. If they ask you why, then you might consider being honest, but polite, with them and suggesting a teacher that might help them.

Q: Someone offered me a breath mint, but I did not want it.. should I have accepted?
A: Yes. They probably offered for a very good reason... never refuse a breath mint.

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