Some Tango Definitions
Milonga - A word used to describe two different things: (1) a tango social dance event in general, and (2) a specific kind of tango music that is a lively, early style of tango with an up-tempo beat. At a Milonga (tango social dance event), music is usally played in tandas or sets of three or four songs , during which dancers stay with the same partner. The milonga style of music is usually used along with the other two principal styles of tango music, tango and vals.
Tanda - Set of tango songs -- usually three or four songs -- of a particular style of music and usually from the same orchestra lasting 10-12 minutes. Couples normally dance a tanda together, before they are seated and change partners.
Cortina - A break song or transition song of an entirely different musical style lasting at least 30 seconds that signals to the dancers that the tanda is over and the next one will begin shortly. During cortinas, couples thank each other for the dance and return to their seats so they can prepare for the next dance.
Practica - A tango practice session where dancers can work on new steps and where they can iron out problems with their dance. Music is usually played continuously and someone is usually available to assist couples, as needed. Milongas, which are more structured, should not be confused with Practicas.
Codigos - Tango 'codes of ethics' or guidelines for people attending and dancing at a milonga. These guidelines govern people's behavior while at the milonga -- entering a milonga, being seated, for chosing a partner, dancing, watching others dance, and leaving the dance. Respecting the codigos provides some discipline on the dance floor and allows everyone to more fully enjoy their time at the milonga.
1. Typically the man asks the women to dance, instead of the woman asking the man.
2. If possible, use the cabaceo method to find a partner, which helps people "save face" when choosing a dance partner. (The cabaceo is agreeing to dance through the subtle inclination of the head, through eye-contact or a wink.)
3. After two people agree to dance, the man should then approach the women while she remains seated. The man stops near the edge of the dance floor closest to where she is sitting. The woman then stands up and approaches her partner.
4. More experienced couples dance on the edge of the dance floor. Less skilled dancers dance in the middle.
5. When dancing, don't confuse the social dance floor with a stage (see below).
6. At the end of a tanda, the man accompanies the women to her seat, before chatting with others or returning to his seat.
Milonga Floorcraft - Respect the line of dance
1. All milongas have a line of dance, where couples slowly circle the outside of the dancefloor in a counter-clockwise direction.
2. Couples should stay in their lane and maintain their same position in the line of dance until the end of a song. No zig-zagging in and out of the line of dance.
3. Avoid passing the couple in front of you. Never pass a couple on the outside (side closest to the seating area). If a couple is stopped in front of you or moving slower than you'd like, dance in place with your partner until the other couples starts moving again.
4. Leads or follows should not teach at a milonga, no one should ask for tips and no one should ask for suggestions. Milongas are to enjoy, while lessons or tips are for practicas or classes. Milongas are social events and not places to call attention to what others are doing wrong.
5. During a dance, particularly during a crowded dance, keep all of your feet on the floor. No high boleos on a busy floor. That helps avoid injuries to other dancers with a mis-directed spiked heel.
6. Respect the space of others in front of you and others behind you in the line of dance. There is a small amount of space around you that's only yours, while the rest of the space is shared space. It's up to you to know the difference.
7. Don't disrupt the dance of others. Your responsibility is to keep circulating without bothering other dancers on the dance floor. If you want to stop and work on something, either leave the dance floor or go to the middle (during practicas).