New to Argentine tango?

Welcome to our beautiful world of music, dance, poetry, fun, and friendship! There are many classes and practicas (informal practice sessions) to help you learn!

Do you need a partner?
No! Many folks come alone. Some bring a partner. Some come with a friend or a group of friends. Argentine tango is a social dance; expect to dance with a variety of partners. You’ll find plenty of people to dance with during classes, practicas, or milongas. Occasionally, some classes are advertised as “couples-only”. Then, and only then, you’d need a partner.
During classes, partners usually rotate. This is the most effective way to learn tango, although some couples may request to stay together throughout a class.

How to pick the right group class?
Some beginner classes are taught in series, and you really should sign up at the beginning of a series. Others are “drop-in” classes, meaning that you can join at any date. Some classes are advertised as “all-levels”, meaning that the beginning of the class will be appropriate for a beginner, but towards the end of the class, the material will get more challenging. Check with our calendar for details!

What to wear?
Your class or practice clothes should be comfortable, allowing your body to move freely. Tango is an embrace-based dance so you may want to avoid slippery or sequined materials which may make embracing uncomfortable for your partner. You should wear indoor shoes which are easy to slide or pivot in. Even an indoor sneaker may be made easy to pivot if you cover the rubber sole with something like duct tape. Dancing in socks is OK too.

Tango classes, tango workshops, and tango practice.

The most up-to-date information about the local tango classes can be found in our Event Calendar

There are different levels of beginner and intermediate classes. Most instructors organize group classes in series which span a month or two, and cover a progressing set of skills. Of course, it makes sense to attend a whole series from the beginning, rather than to jump in in the middle of a program.

Visiting instructors typically teach workshops with classes of increasing difficulty, with the Friday night class billed as “all levels”. An all-level class may start from the material appropriate for a beginner, and move on to a more intermediate material.

Private classes are available from both local and visiting instructors, and can be a very effective way to learn; please inquire! (We try to keep our lists of tango teachers and activists up to date, but it isn’t always possible – please help us keep it clean and current!)

A semi-formal tango dance night (called a milonga)  follows the traditional rules of etiquette. One of the classic rules says, no teaching at the milonga. It may be a great place to socialize and to observe, but it just isn’t a place to ask for technical help or to learn or practice unfamiliar steps. But we also offer informal tango dance practice events (called practicas) where it’s totally appropriate to ask for advice, to try something difficult and not to be discouraged if it doesn’t work right away, and to stop and try again.

 

Useful words and ideas in Argentine Tango

Milonga (event or place):
A social dance (party) where people dance to tango music, dress up, and strive to follow the proper traditional etiquette. Typical milongas have a dance floor (area) surrounded by decorated tables and chairs. Special milongas may feature live music and short performances or demos. Although milongas are relatively formal, they are still a great festive place for a beginner to come and have fun. Just try to remember that teaching, or asking technical questions, are not allowed at a milonga! That’s what practicas and classes are for.

Practica:
An informal place for dancing, practicing, learning, and troubleshooting your tango problems with the fellow dancers and with the instructors. For a practica, one can dress as informally as for a class.
One can interrupt one’s practice dance at any moment, ask questions and share observations, stop and retry any move as necessary. Practicas are a great place to both learn and have fun. It isn’t like a formal milonga where dance must flow uninterrupted, silence on the dance floor is sacrosanct, and teaching or discussing technique is strictly disallowed.

Milonguero/Milonguera:
Someone that dances a traditional, close-embrace style tango. A term of respect.

Tanguero/Tanguera:
Anyone who dances tango.

Milonga (music) :
Type of Argentine tango music played at milonga, usually faster and more upbeat them other two types of music: Valses and Tangos. Milonga music is also distinctive because of the syncopated rhythm.

Vals (music):
A type of tango music with a distinctive rhythm. Vals is always 3:4 time, the same as a European “Waltz.” (ONE-two-three-ONE-two-three.)

Tango (music):
The traditional music of Argentina, this music was born in the early 1900s, and later made popular by the great Carlos Gardel.

Tanda:
A set of three to four tango songs of the common type (Tango, Vals, Milonga) played at Milonga. These songs are traditionally all from the same orchestra. Partners are expected to dance together during an entire tanda, and not just one song, unless there are extenuating circumstances. Partners are expected to switch after a tanda or, at most, two

Cortina:
A short piece of non tango music that is played between tandas. This indicates that a new tanda is coming up, and people may change partners if they like.

Cabeceo:
In the milongas of Buenos Aires, one makes eye contact with a potential partner in order to ask for a dance. If both parties wish to dance with each other, they both nod, and the leader walks to the follower. The follower only stands once the arm is presented to dance. This elegant way of requesting dances eliminates the necessity of having to turn anyone down. While occasionally skipped in small communities in the US, cabaceos are widely used (and expected) at festivals.

“Thank you”:
In the traditional tango etiquette, if someone says thank you, that means they are ready to move on to their next partner. Rejection has to be accepted politely!

But if you want to thank your partner, sincerely, without the taint of rejection, then instead of the accursed words “thank you”, you may find plenty of nice synonyms: “It was great”, “I enjoyed it so much”, “What a nice tanda”, and so on…

Floor Navigation:
Tango is a walking dance, and we all have to walk in the same general direction to make it work. We dance in a line along the circumference of the floor. Passing is generally discouraged, as is dancing in the center of the circle. If, heaven forbid, a collision happens, then you should apologize at the earliest possibility (perhaps right away, or perhaps at the song’s end), even if it wasn’t your fault Read more in a floorcraft flyer prepared by Albuquerque Tango Festival organizers