THE ETIQUETTE IN A MILONGA
IAn organised dance in Tango is called a Milonga and as people are dancing together socially on what may be a crowded dance floor, there are suggestions as to behaviour. Dancing is always done in rotation (ronda) around the room in an anticlockwise direction. If there are a lot of dancers there may be lanes to keep the rotation ordered. Dancers are expected to progress around the room at a suitable rate which doesn’t cause blockages or gaps. Dancers should not overtake other dancers on the floor. The DJ will play music in groups of songs called tandas. These may be two, three or four songs long and each tanda will have a tango, vals or
milonga rhythm . At Bury Tango we also enjoy dancing to alternative tango music and nuevo for variety. Please note, you are expected to dance the whole tanda with the partner you have chosen. At the end of the tanda the DJ will usually play a cortina which is a signal to clear the floor. This is a very short piece of music that is not tango music. Partners should compliment each other and return to their seats and then choose another partner. N.B. only say “thankyou” at the end of the last song as saying it earlier is a polite way of saying “your dancing displeases me, so I don’t want to continue”.
AN INVITATION TO DANCE: THE CABACEO
When choosing a dance partner in Tango, the traditional way is for the leader to use the cabaceo or “glance”. The literal translation of cabaceo is 'nod of the head'. This is a silent way of inviting someone to dance and a nod implies acceptance. If the lady, or follower, refuses, she will look away. If the follower accepts the cabeceo, he/she will move towards the leader and the partners can then enter the dance floor at a point which doesn’t impede or interrupt other dancers. You may need to be patient while waiting for a space. Leaders are encouraged to use the ronda cabaceo. This is where a leader does not barge onto the floor but waits to be invited via a nod from the approaching leader.
Followers can actively seek out a cabaceo but the etiquette is that the follower remains seated until the leader presents infront, as it may be that the cabaceo was for someone sitting behind.