Tango is a social dance and one of the best, yet hardest, parts is the interactions with other dancers, both on and off the dance floor. There are many guidelines for tango etiquette (called “codigos”) that can help make the experience more enjoyable for everyone. Many pages can be written about this, but here are some important points to get you started.
We strongly encourage the use of the “cabeceo” for asking and accepting dances. This technique of using eye contact to initiate a dance empowers both leaders and followers. Leaders can avoid the embarrassment of having walked up to a follower and being rejected and followers can decline dances without feeling rude. Hint to the leaders: If a follower is avoiding eye contact with you (and she is not a beginner) she might not want to dance with you at that time. It is considered rude at some milongas to walk up to a follow that you don’t know and ask her for dance. At Sin Nombre many of the group have know each other for many years, so the rules are a little more relaxed, but we still encourage the use of the cabeceo first. Try it, the first time you get a dance diagonally across the dance floor in a room with 100+ people, you might see the utility!
This is a tricky subject. Tango is a balance between pursuing your own connection in the dance and nurturing beginners that might be awesome future partners. If you don’t feel like dancing with a particular person you shouldn’t have to, but think about conditions in which you might be more inclined to dance with that person, especially if they are a beginner. Personally, I find that I prefer rhythmic music, which often occurs earlier in the night, when I am dancing with someone new to tango. Your own preferences may vary, but try to consider the other person’s feelings and how you can help them be a part of the community, without compromising your own social experience.
Try to use the cabeceo! If you use it properly you can get a feel for the type of music that a more advanced dancer is interested in dancing with you. People who have been dancing a long time tend to have strong opinions about music. If you don’t put them on the spot to dance to music that they don’t think is right, you might find it easier to get dances with them in the future.
You should not have to dance with anyone who make you uncomfortable. If you are in physical discomfort consider whether there is something that you can do or ask them to do in order to ease it. If there is not, this is one of the few times that ending a tanda is appropriate. Try to be polite, explain that it is a matter of physical pain, hopefully without placing blame.
If someone is giving you an odd vibe, or makes you uncomfortable you do not have to dance with them. If someone does anything inappropriate on the dance floor, you do NOT need to finish the tanda. Excuse yourself — politely or not depending on the situation. If it is a serious transgression, please let some staff know. We want to make sure that everyone feels comfortable at Sin Nombre. In the rare case that you may consider it to be a serious transgression, please let some staff know.