A "Milonga" is a social party for dancing tango. Before going to your first milonga, we encourage you to read the following so you will know what to expect there and enjoy yourselves!
"Elegance" - the dress code
Men should wear a suit (or shirt and jacket), as most women will tend to dress up nicely for a milonga. Usually you can tell who's a better dancer from the way he's dressed. Take care of your personal hygiene, use a deodorant or perfume. Have breathmints ready. Don't dance if you are sweating a lot, it is always a good idea to bring a fan or a handkerchief for that.
"Cabeceo" - the code of invitation
Cabeceo is a non verbal way of inviting each other to dance. By using Cabeceo, it is ensured that both the man and the lady want to dance with each other at that particular moment. When the tanda starts, leaders and followers look around to catch each other's eyes. When a pair establishes eye contact, the man will gesture to the lady and the lady responses with a nod. The man then walks to the lady, and it is not until he is in front of her that she will stand up and both enter the dance floor together. After the tanda, the man escorts the lady back to her seat.
"Tanda" - a set of music
The Music at a milonga is played in sets of 3 or 4 tangos, forming one "Tanda", with a piece of non-tango music called the "Cortina" in between each set. The beginning of a tanda marks the time when you should start inviting people to dance, while the end of the tanda (or the start of the cortina) marks the time when the dance is finished and the leader escorts the lady back to her seat. There should be no dancing during the cortina.
"Ronda" - the line of dance
A Leader follows the line of dance, which are "invisible lanes" on the dance floor in anti-clockwise direction. The centre of the dancefloor is for beginners who cannot navigate or those who don't want to be restrained by the ronda. Following the ronda is a form of respect of people dancing around you as we are sharing the same dance floor, which can get very crowded. The following are some tips of ensuring a smooth line of dance:
Cortina - Interlude moment
DJ will play non-tango music between the two Tantas. People take a break from the dance and leave the dance floor; the man should escort the woman back to her seat before he returns to his seat by himself. You may order drinks and chat with friends at the same table; or, go to the dressing room to tidy up. Remember not to stay and wait for the next tanda on the dance floor during a Cortina.
The milonga is one of the public places, you should avoid to aim someone with a camera and take a video before getting their permissions.