Milonga 101: A quick getaway

You’re dancing tango, and you know you have come to the end of the tanda when you hear the cortina music.  What do you do next, guys?

  1. Break the embrace and make a quick getaway to your seat to look around for your next partner;
  2. Say thank-you and hang around another woman’s table for the next tanda; or
  3. Escort your partner to the edge of the floor where she entered and then return to your table.

A gentleman escorting a lady to her table after dancing is standard ballroom dance etiquette in the milongas of Buenos Aires.  Men in the milongas walk their partners to the point where they entered the floor to dance.

I had this experience in Club Gricel.  An Argentine who lived in North American left me standing in the center of the floor while he made a quick getaway at the end of the tanda.  I made a mental note that I would not dance another tanda with him.  He hadn’t noticed how all the men were escorting the women off the floor.

Recently at El Arranque I saw a foreigner leave dance partners on the floor while he went directly back to his table.  It didn’t occur to him that it would be a courtesy to escort the women off the floor before going to his table.  All he had to do was see the men at this milonga to know proper dance floor etiquette.  He was the only man changing his shoes at the table.

Let’s suppose that when the tanda ends, a man is closer to his table than the woman’s table.   It seems logical for him to go directly to his table, and let the woman return to hers.  After all, women know how to take care of themselves, so returning alone is no big deal.  There is so little effort involved in walking those extra steps.  Be a  gentleman and escort every partner off the dance floor.

How-To:  When the woman leaves your embrace, place your hand on her back or take hold of her upper arm with your hand.  Walk side by side to the edge of the floor where she entered to dance with you.  This simple courtesy gives you time to say something before returning to your table.

A woman walking off the floor alone is rare since older men in Buenos Aires have followed the custom for so many years.   They especially like to finish the tanda ending up at the same place where they began it.   The cortina music is for clearing the floor, and it’s not the time to stand in the middle of the floor having a conversation; that is done outside the milonga.

It’s the same for couples who sit together at milongas.  The man escorts his partner off the floor; the only difference is he returns to the table with her.



6 Responses to “Milonga 101: A quick getaway”

  1. Patricia Says:

    Even in our modern, egalitarian society, such courtesies are still most appropriate.

    Following the intimate experience of dancing a tanda in close embrace, being left to make my own way back to my table brings to mind the expression “dropped like a hot potato”!

    I enjoy reading your thoughts, Jan, and have linked your blog to ours.

    Greetings from Australia,

  2. jantango Says:

    That expression is perfect.


  3. The Accidental Tangoiste Says:

    Such a considerate little gesture that completes a good tanda so beautifully!

  4. tangopassionista Says:

    That simple courtesy makes all the difference. I often feel a little disoriented at the end of a tanda that I’ve danced with eyes closed and in blissful connection. Being abandoned as soon as the music stopped and left to find my way back to my table only adds to that feeling.

  5. jantango Says:

    We can only hope that men are reading the post and your comments.

    I know what you mean about feeling disoriented after a tanda — I couldn’t make it back to my table without direction.

  6. tangobob Says:

    It is, or should be, the same in all social dancing. Women at social dances here at home are often surprised when I escort them back to their tables. This should not be the case especially when you consider that the people who normally go to these socials are of an age that respected women.
    I agree with tango passionista and understand well that Viv never knows where we are when we have finished dancing.

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