Decline dances in a milonga, without qualifying for bitchhood

Story | Opinion | Chrisa Assis | 3 Jan 2017 | 2 comments

We  ALL get dance invitations, that we really want to decline. What do we usually do? Well, we either say yes, and regret it later, or we ignore the leader hoping that they will go away.

Wouldn’t it be though so much better if you could just say: “Thank you, but maybe some other time!” instead of hiding, looking at the ceiling, or running to the ladies?

Exactly. So why don’t you just say that?

Well it is simple, most of us feel bad saying “NO” to someone. We don’t want be rude, or break their heart, or discourage them, but the real problem here is that we don’t really know how to decline an invitation politely.
Saying yes to everyone can in fact HURT!
Leader pleasing is expressed in very subtle ways in milongas. One classic example, how many times have you said: “I dance with everyone!” ?

A tanda later your toes are bleeding,  your arm is numb and your back is aching.

So saying yes to EVERYONE, can literally hurt! There is nothing wrong with being nice and encouraging, but saying yes to everyone can be distracting, draining and often times discouraging since it can lead to you not enjoying the milonga.
The wrong way to decline a dance
How many times have you said and/or heard someone say something like:

  • NO!
  • Oh! Can we can get the next tanda..?
  • My foot is just killing me, right now. Maybe later…

We are all sharing the same dancefloors, some of them are better than others, but for the most of us they are similar to say the least, even if they are ocean apart. So I can tell you this, it is OK to recognize when pain or timing, is an excuse and more importantly to recognize when you are being rude.

Next time you use one of the above phrases and others similar to these, or if you are running to the bar or the ladies, take a moment to think why.

Maybe you feel that you are always dancing with the same people? Or do you feel that the connection is just not there with some people? Maybe you have put in Tango too much time, effort and money and you really feel that you deserve to dance with higher level dancers? This is all OK! But you have to recognize the real issue here and admit to yourself first. This way you will save yourself and your partner some painful times on and off the dancefloor and you will be able to define your next step!

So next time someone asks you to dance, just be honest with them and yourself!
How to decline politely, without hurting someones feelings!
So lets see a few possible scripts you can use to decline dances in the great Gala–New Year Milongas coming up.

  1. If you don’t know the leader
    Thank you truly, but unfortunately I would have to decline this one. Thank you!
  2. If the leader is an acquaintance
    Hi there/Hi NAME
    Thank you, but I think I will have to sit this one out, maybe some other time. Thanks
  3. If the leader is a friend
    Hi/Hi there/Hi NAME
    Thanks, but I would like to try to get a few dances in, with different people, you know, get a bit of a different experience. Challenge myself a bit. Maybe some other time. Thanks!

These might be a bit more straight forward than you are used to…but you know, that is sort of the point here! Notice though, that they are not rude, but they are clear, saving you and leaders, time and effort.
What happens when you get to decide how to spend your time in the milonga
You will be amazed how refreshing it feels to be able to walk into a milonga without the burden of obligations.

Learning how to decline an invitation to dance will:

  1. Spear you from dances you didn’t really want to commit to
  2. Give you time to look for dance partners, you would like to dance with
  3. Free you up mentally so you can actually relax and enjoy the milonga
  4. Give you back the feeling of excitement you felt when you first started going out.

But mostly importantly…
You won’t be feeling guilty any more, for committing to tandas you want, with partners you like to dance with. For spending your time and energy in the milonga, finding ways to make your dances better instead of finding new ways to avoid invitations.

Try it out during your next milonga, I promise I will to!

P.S: Would you like to see how to decline invitations during your everyday life check out this article:


Collaborators: None...

Credits: None…

Published: 3 Jan 2017 @ 13:12


2 Posts
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Kay commented:

You encourage to say “no” without making false excuses. That’s good. But “Thank you, but maybe some other time!” might be a false excuse too because it gives a promise that you will dance with that person in the future.. A perfect solution is to promote and support “cabeceo” culture – it gives opportunity to avoid excuses, since it’s non-verbal way of saying “please not now”. – Read
Comment | Kay | 27 Feb 2018

Don Rosenberg commented:

Great article. Thanks for sharing. This issue is one of the most talked about topics in all of Tango… As in Kay’s comment, cabeceo is the way to go. We need men to learn it and women to honor the rules. Cabeceo is there for a reason. It allows a woman to politely decline without embarrassing the man, and without having to explain herself. She is free to accept a dance from the very next leader she sees without having to lie. There’s a flip side to this story – women who come up to men and ask for dances. I find myself in the exact same position – what do I say to a beginner? “No, you’re not good enough?, you’ve danced with me before and you hang on me and hurt my back?” At least a man can protect himself with a beginner and move to open embrace… Cabeceo needs to be taught and practiced from the very beginning of learning Tango. Don Rosenberg – Read
Comment | Don Rosenberg | 28 Feb 2018
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