Don’t wait until you are amazing to start having a good time! OWN your next milonga, even if you are a beginner, showing up alone and with poor social skills

Story | Opinion | Chrisa Assis | 16 Nov 2016 | 0 comments

I am sure you have had nights when you desperately want to go out dancing but after you typed on Facebook: “anyone going out for Tango this weekend?” you heard only crickets…
So what did you guys do?
Did you go out anyhow or did you chicken out and stayed at home?

Is going ALONE to a milonga, a NO-NO for you?
You can’t bare the thought of sitting at a table all alone, waiting for a dance..?
You are not having a good time because you are always dancing with the same people, but at the same time you don’t know where to start with meeting new people..?
Are you feeling like everyone hates you from the minute you walk in so you might as well turn around and run back to the subway and never show your face in a milonga ever again unless you are absolutely positively sure that someone you know is there..?

If this is you, then you are in luck! Because here I will share a few crispy, practical tips on milonga social attitude that will get you out of the tough spot and you can use them right away at your next milonga…

How do I know, they work? But it simple, I used them myself..!
But I got my inspiration from everyday life as well…
I was on the subway the other day thinking about all this… With my nose stuck on my phone frantically typing, I didn’t realize, until the last minute, that my stop was up…As I was trying to get all my stuff – I travel with at least two bags (life of a dancer..!) – I accidentally elbowed an older gentleman next to me…
I turn around to apologize and the next thing I know the doors are closing…Aaargh!!!
Frustration is building up and I am trying so hard not to show it…the man turns around smiles at me and offers me a helping hand out of my seat..! I guess my frustration was evident after all…haha

I was so surprised though by the simple yet so gentleman-like gesture, that I smiled back, all my frustration gone and the answer to our milonga issues in mind!

If you have picked up the guide for Tango training you will see there is a section on social skills.
(If you haven’t it is still available here with your subscription: Ultimate guide on Tango training for leaders and followers)
Why? Because Tango is a social dance SO you need to be sociable.
But what if you can’t? What if it is not natural to you? Should you give it all up? NO!
Should you always depend on other people in order to go out and dance? NO!
Should you wait until you are an amazing dancer to go to a milonga? NO!
Then what?

Tip #1: Dress to Impress!
Do you think you go unnoticed in the milonga? And therefore it doesn’t matter what you wear…
I am going to break the news to you…You are not going by unnoticed, you are just ignored! There is a big difference!
Like any public place, the milonga too, has a social etiquette. Part of that etiquette is a dress code. Would you go to a wedding wearing gym clothes? Or to the gym wearing a gown and high heels or a three piece suit?

You need to look like you BELONG, that you are PART of the party, that you are not just a by-passer but that you are there to DANCE!
If the gentleman on the subway wasn’t a well taken care of, well groomed, with a proper noon attire, with his jacket and traditional cap on, do you think that story would have had the same ending? By all means NO!
People don’t choose by looks in the milonga?!? WRONG!
Of course they do! But that is even half the story…
Not accepting dress code, means that you are not doing the least of effort to be part of that community. So if you won’t attempt fitting in, why do you expect other people to make an effort to include you?
So next time, choose the right outfit for the right milonga.
For example: If we are talking about a festival, you need to up your game a bit.
You don’t need to pull your tucks or your wedding gown out of the closet. A nice pair of pants with a smart shirt and jacket or a nice dress will do!
If though we are talking about an afternoon milonga, you can go more casual, but casual – smart NOT in your PAJAMAS!
Dress appropriately not to show off, but for people to notice that you are ONE OF THEM, ready to dance!

Tip #2: You don’t need to be Mr&Mrs Chatty to get a dance”
What you do need to be, is civil, nice and genuinely looking like you are having a good time!
Notice how I didn’t say, you should look ready to dance or practice…
People don’t care about that.
People won’t dance with you because you practice a lot…People will dance with you because they feel that you are ready to spend time with them!
Which means, walk in with a SMILE.
A kind smile, a nod of the head and a welcome wave of the hand, is most of the times enough to make other people feel good and at ease around you and possibly come over and chat with you, even if you don’t have the inner courage to go and start a conversation with them. People can deal with shyness but not with snobbishness!

Tip #3: Go where the fish are!
So you are uncomfortable starting a conversation and you hate the cabeceo…what do you do? (If you have the guide you can find plenty of tips on the cabeceo too!) Interestingly enough you have a few options here:
Option 1: the bar
Option 2: spare single seats–no table section
Option 3: stroll
People who go alone to a milonga either sit at the bar, or if there is a spot with just chairs they sit there. Go and hang out there!
Keep in mind this is a community within the milonga, so again you approach with a smile and a nod and most likely the more conversational people will come and chat with you or at least the barman will chat with you…better than nobody! haha
Being there, the odds of getting asked to dance are higher already. Plus, if you are a leader, asking the follower right next to you for a dance is a lot easier…all you need to do is turn around, smile, and offer your hand. A lot easier than trying to cabeceo someone on the other side of the room.
Option 3 goes hand-in-hand with the other two…Instead, of running to the bar as if you have sneaked in the milonga without paying and you hope no one will NOTICE you, stroll! Keep your cool, look around relaxed, smile to people, wave your hellos, and gently take your seat over at the bar.
Show confidence, connect with other people as you pass by and focus on understanding who is looking for a dance..!

Tip #4: The embrace is now your comfort zone, and your partner is part of it
If you missed last week’s email on the embrace you can check it out here:
Follow the tips to make your embrace comfortable, even when you are dancing with a complete stranger.
Song ends and you are not sure what to do..?
You are human and therefore you must have something to casually chat about.
Keep it simple! The cortina only lasts for a few seconds, new song will be starting soon…
If you haven’t danced with the person before, you can simply introduce yourself,
something like this will do: “My name is Chrisa, by the way!”

The thing is you are NOT there just to dance. You can do that anywhere. You can invite a friend at home and dance.
In a milonga, you are there to enjoy being in the same place with people who share the same passion with you.
Think about it…How often does THAT happen?
Nearly NEVER!
So take advantage of it and you never know you might meet very interesting people and make some new good friends!

Guys, we live in the super digital era. You can be in Canada and chat with people from Argentina, Greece, Japan, Belgium, Congo, anywhere in the world, but surprisingly enough we can’t chat to the person sitting next to us in a milonga.
Milongas will always be a challenge unless you shift your mindset, and allow the rules of a different era to control your social behavior…Leave 2016 back for a few hours and travel to a more sophisticated era, where ladies and gentlemen still exist. BE ONE OF THEM!

If you have any specific questions on social etiquette in a milonga, just send me an email. I read every email!



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Published: 16 Nov 2016 @ 13:43


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