Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Want to dance more with advanced tangueras?

(This message is for our tangueros, and in another article we’ll talk to tangueras!)

Tanguero, would you do like to have the confidence to invite more experienced tangueras, and get your invitations accepted more often?

A nice intermediate dancer once appeared in front of me and invited me to dance during a cortina. I was caught off guard at that moment and didn’t know how to respond.  I had no idea what was coming next and whether I would want to dance it, or dance it with him.  So, totally surprised, I just stared at him for a moment - I felt put on the spot and awkward for a second.  He walked away, not giving me a chance to gather my thoughts and say, “Let’s see what the music is,” and he has not invited me again in two years.

Often we advanced tangueras would love to dance with you, having seen you on the dance floor or knowing you socially in the milonga, but you might be making it difficult for us to accept by inviting us at the wrong moment.  It may have nothing to do with your dancing, and everything to do with your being uninformed about the subtleties of inviting and therefore using faulty judgment about when to invite.

It’s time an advanced tanguera gave you some tips about inviting more advanced tangueras!

I often decline invitations by men who invite me at awkward times. Very experienced tangueras do not come to a milonga so eager to dance that they’ll trip all over themselves to get onto the dance floor.  Sometimes men invite us at times that make us feel uncomfortable.

Here’s the scoop.  (Many of you will find the first ones obvious, but I’ll bet even advanced tangueros may the find the last one surprising!)

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 their shoulders and eyes facing the dance floor, it 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 the 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 on this last 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 for 15 or 20 minutes to get acclimated, feeling the music and energy in the room, see who’s dancing, and get revved up!  
  • She has never seen you dance!  Most advanced tangueras don’t want to take the 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 attention to the music, especially the pauses, and to your partners‘ comfort and 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’d dance with her.  It’s wisest for both partners to dance the first time to simple tango.  If you’re one of those rare advanced beginners for whom 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.

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 recognize 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 Rodriguez, 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 would be fun for you, wait for that invitation until a second tanda that night or some time in the future, when you know she has already enjoyed dancing with you.

* * * * *

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

1)    Wait for a tanda of uncomplicated melodic or rhythmic, traditional tangos.
2)    Position yourself in the room a bit of a distance away from your desired partner, where you she can easily see your face.
3)    Make sure she looks like she wants to dance this set.
4)    Smile in her direction, and see whether she looks at you pleasantly or avoids your gaze.
5)    You don’t have to use the “cabeceo” (you’ve already done the “mirada”); if she looked receptive to you, you can walk to her table and invite her.  If she does not, try again later or another evening. 
1-second bonus tip:  You can also break the ice with your desired advanced partner by making friendly eye contact with her, unrelated to an invitation, as you move around the room to greet friends, get something to drink, or on your way to the men’s room. It will tell her you’re a confident and pleasant fellow. If a woman is receptive to your 1-second nonverbal greeting, you’ll have more confidence to invite her later, and you won’t be such a stranger to her.  But do follow my guidelines 1-5 above!

One last bit of advice:  If a woman declines to dance with you, as long as she is not blatantly rude to you, don’t punish her by never inviting her again.  There is a myriad of reasons why she may have declined; it’s unlikely that she’s rejecting YOU. Try again in the future, using the 5 steps I suggest above.

Let me hear from you! I invite you to share in the comments area below.


  1. You´re right, but if a man follow your steps, he waits may be 10 years til he dance his first tanda with a advanced tanguera.

  2. Why do you think that? The idea is for you to have a lot of knowledge about what goes on in a woman's mind and what works with her, so that you can dance sooner with advanced tangueras. Do you disagree?