Ten commandments of the milongueros

These are the unwritten rules that every milonguero respects.

1.  Thou shalt always dress well.  A milonguero bathes and shaves before the milonga. A pressed suit, clean shirt and tie are his uniform. Trimmed hair, shined shoes, and scent of cologne complete his attire for the milonga.

2.  Thou shalt dance ones own style.  A milonguero is a self-taught dancer with his own style, who can dance elegantly with any woman and make her happy.  A milonguero has learned by observing others, but he never copied them.

3.  Thou shalt dance well or not at all.  If there is no woman with whom he can dance his best, a milonguero is content to listen to the music and observe the dancing.

4.  Thou shalt dance for yourself and your partner.  A milonguero dances what he feels and transmits that feeling to his partner.  He doesn’t dance to perform or for applause.

5.  Thou shalt treat women with respect.  A milonguero never approaches a woman at her table or greets women while entering the milonga.

6.  Thou shalt invite a woman to dance from the table. A milonguero uses either a tilt of the head or movement of the lips to invite a woman to dance.  The invitation is subtle and not obvious to others in the salon.  Once a woman refuses his invitation, he will not invite her again.

7.  Thou shalt not dance with another man’s partner.  A milonguero takes time to watch the floor for several tandas so that he knows if a woman he wants to invite has a commitment with another man.  This is not always obvious since they sit separately, but dance only with one another.  A milonguero learned patience.

8.  Thou shalt dance in the floor space available.  A milonguero dances compactly without interfering with others dancing.  If he touches other dancers, he quickly acknowledges it by raising his hand.

9.  Thou shalt not dance consecutive tandas. A milonguero dances only when the music inspires him.  He can wait hours to hear his favorite orchestra or a certain tanda that inspires him to dance.  A milonguero prefers quality over quantity of dances.

10. Thou shalt not be seen leaving the milonga with a woman.  A milonguero arranges to meet a woman on the street.  He always leaves the milonga alone, just as he enters it.


“The codes are like the commandments which were born with the tango.”  — Ricardo Vidort

5 Responses to “Ten commandments of the milongueros”

  1. R. Bononno Says:

    Thanks for posting these, Jan. Sometimes (today, all the time) we need to be reminded. Pretty much all of these rules are broken on a regular basis today. I suppose that’s a sign of the times, but also a loss of connection with our (tango) past. (I humbly disagree with Vidort’s bit of hyperbole though; the codigos evolved over time, like the dance itself.)

  2. R. Bononno Says:


    Can you post these on Dance Forums under a new thread? If you don’t want to, can I? Up to you, of course, but it might be good to remind people about the depth of tradition, especially the newcomers.



  3. jantango Says:

    Yes, I agree. And the dancers learned the unwritten codigos over time, like the dance.

  4. jantango Says:

    Good idea. I’ll do it tonight.

  5. Bill In Oz Says:

    So Tango has become a puritan style religion for milongueros !

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s