Sunday, June 19, 2016

7 inviting strategies to boost your success rate in milongas

In my June 10 article, I wrote that, often, if a woman declines your invitation it’s not about your dancing. 

It may be because you’ve invited her at a moment when she does not want to dance.  Or when she is not free to dance with you.

At the end, I’ll give you some specific reasons why she might not be ready to dance with you, even though she might otherwise love to.  

But first, here are some specific tips to help you become an expert at inviting the right partners at the right times.
  There are other ways in which you can improve your inviting score, but today we’re just talking about eliminating common inviting mistakes.   

I’ll repeat what I said last week:

Make sure you’re inviting women when they want to be dancing.  

If a woman wants to be dancing, the signs are obvious: 
she’s looking up at the dance floor and around the room, her body looks energetic, she has a pleasant expression on her face. She looks open or even eager. She may be moving her body a little to the music, or singing the lyrics, as her eyes seek the right partner for this tanda. She looks like she specifically wants to dance!

If you’re not using the mirada (eye contact) and cabeceo (nod) to invite, but rather walking up to the tanguera’s table or to where she’s standing, these 7 tips, 3 do's and 4 don'ts, if you're not doing them already, will boost your success rate!


1) Make preliminary eye contact. This is one of the best inviting tools you can use.  Make eye contact before walking over to her.  You might have to relocate yourself in the room to catch her eye.  If you can’t make eye contact from a good position in her line of view, it’s a good clue that would be wiser not to invite her now.

You can also make eye contact at any time during the evening, while you walk around the room or in the refreshment area. Smile. If she smiles back, that can open a door for your invitation later.  If you have trouble engaging her in this small social exchange, it might be better not to invite her this time. 
2)  Observe her body language.  If her back is turned to the dance floor, she may not be interested in dancing at the moment.  If her legs are turned away from the dance floor, and she’s speaking with someone, skip this tango.  If she is looking into her purse for a while, she’s not available.  If she’s looking downward, she’s not available.  

Observing her body language includes paying attention to her gaze. If she’s looking fixedly at someone across the room, don’t walk over to invite her.  She’s in a visual dialog with someone else and may be accepting an invitation. You can choose to be calmly persistent:  keep looking in her direction and be ready to catch her eye if she shifts her gaze.  If she then sustains eye contact with you, she’s telling you she’s now available and wants to dance, and you can either nod, or walk over to her table.  (Of course, if you wait for Tanguera A to look at you, you might lose the opportunity to invite Tanguera B, in the event that Tanguera A accepts another invitation or doesn’t give you her attention.
 It's your choice whether you want to take the risk by waiting.)

3) Notice whether she’s in the company of a tanguero tonight.  If she’s sitting at a table with a tanguero and they're dancing often, they may have a tango date, and she’s not as available as she usually is. 
Try to catch her eye when she seems available, which also means not in conversation with this evening's companion.  If you can’t make eye contact, she’s not available right now.


4) Don’t invite someone as she’s walking by, unless she stops on her own to say hello to you. Even so, it’s better to say, “Where are you sitting? I want to dance with you later”.  

I was once in Milonga Gricel in Buenos Aires, and though it was very crowded, I was having a great night.  I took a break to go to the ladies room, and as I walked back to my table, 3 men at different tables stopped me, gave me a polite compliment and said “I would like to dance with you later”.  They all did it so nicely that it was a pleasure for me.  So I watched them on the dance floor and looked in their direction at the beginning of several tandas. 

If the tanguera you want to invite was pleased by your pre-invitation, she will look in your direction sometimes.  If she’s not, she will avoid your gaze, so don’t walk up to her table to invite her.

Never grab someone’s hand or arm as she’s walking by and pull her onto the dance floor. That’s taking away her right of choice.  Tangueras like me think, “If he’s rude in inviting, he’s going to be rude on the dance floor,” and even if we dance with the man now because we don't want to make a scene, we will avoid him in the future.

5) Don’t invite during a cortina. Neither of you knows what music will be played for the next tanda.  Even if you are not particular about the music to which you’ll be dancing, that decision might be very important to her!  So wait until you’ve both heard the first few bars of the new tanda before inviting. 

A few years back, someone with whom I’d had a lovely conversation a bit earlier showed up to invite me during a cortina, and I looked at him stunned, surely like a deer in the headlights. I had no idea whether I would like to dance the next tanda with him, or with anyone.  I was so taken off guard by the invitation at that moment that I didn’t know what to say.  I just stared at him, momentarily almost panicked.  The tanguero just walked away, looking hurt.  He didn’t have a clue that I didn’t say "yes" because I had no way of knowing whether I wanted to dance. To many tangueras, especially experienced ones, the music matters a lot. I can think of someone in Florence, Italy, for whom I’d almost leap across tables to dance with to D’Arienzo, but I wouldn't look in his direction for Pugliese.  (He runs a really wonderful traditional milonga, by the way, in case you're ever going to be in that area. Just ask us.)

6) Don’t invite someone who’s deeply involved in a conversation.  If her head and shoulders are turned toward someone and she stays focused on that person for a long time, she doesn’t want to dance right now.

But if her body is facing the dance floor, and her head turns to her friend and then back to the dance floor repeatedly, she's just chatting lightly and is available. Still, use the eye contact rule before you approach her table.

7) And finally:  Don’t take a woman’s unavailability as an absolute “No”.  Take it as a “Not now.”  If you get offended and strike her off your list, you could be depriving both of you of months or years of beautiful future tandas!

Her "No, thank you" or her not being available might mean:

“Not now. I . . .
. . . promised this tanda to someone.
. . . am on my way to the ladies’ room.
. . . am in pain. Someone caught my foot with her stiletto.
. . . am perspired from that milonga tanda, and I need to cool down or freshen up.
. . . am in a conversation that’s important to me.
. . . really need to get a glass of water. I’m parched!
. . . just had a very moving tanda and I’m overcome with emotion; I need a few minutes to sit by myself.
. . . just experienced a little misunderstanding and I want to straighten it out.
. . . can’t find my purse/wallet!
. . . don’t like dancing to this orchestra, or this type of music.
. . . just saw someone very dear whom I haven’t seen in months, and I want to go greet them.
. . . just saw the out of town guests I’ve invited to sit at my table walk in, and I want to welcome them.
. . . just arrived and I want to take a few minutes to get comfortable and observe the dance floor.
. . . don’t know you and would like to watch you dance at least once before accepting your invitation, so I’ll know whether it will be comfortable.
 . . . would rather dance with you to a nice mellow tango by Di Sarli/ Fresedo/Calo‘ than to milonga/Pugliese/Troilo.

So here's a recap of the 7 tips:
1) Make preliminary eye contact.
2) Observe her body language.
3) Notice whether she’s in the company of a tanguero tonight.
4) Don’t invite someone as she’s walking by.
5) Don’t invite during a cortina. 
6) Don’t invite someone who’s deeply involved in a conversation.
7) Don’t take a woman’s unavailability as an absolute “No”.  Take it as a “Not now.” 

Try making some of these strategies your habits.  And if you notice any difference in your experience in milongas, please write and tell me about it!

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If you would like to receive frequent personal advice from me about how to give women what they really want in milongas, you can subscribe to my "27 Insider Tips from Buenos Aires"!  CLICK HERE for details.

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