Here are a couple of different views of Tango Etiquette as well as links to a few other site with more in depth discussion of Tango Etiquette.


These are common expectations for social Argentine Tango dancing in the United States. The suggestions are given to encourage a fun and enjoyable social atmosphere. This is neither a comprehensive list nor rigid governing rules. Other than the obvious, the list is non-gender specific.

Before the Dance
During the Dance
After the Dance

Respect ... the person you are dancing with
Respect ... the culture & heritage of Tango
Respect ... the music & the band
Respect ... the people around you

Before The Dance:

Personal hygiene is essential for an enjoyable dancing experience. 
Bad breath, body odor and excessive perspiration are common offenders.  Be sensitive to your fellow dancers.  Excessive use of cologne, perfume or any chemical can be just as offending, and never a replacement for bathing.

Dress appropriately for the event.
For a milonga, dress up a little.  You cannot go wrong with black; tango is an elegant dance.  For a practica, dress comfortably and sensibly.  Be tasteful; avoid displaying any body parts not generally acceptable in public.  Wear shoes with heels to help properly distribute your weight forward; they should also allow you to turn on the ball of your foot with ease – this applies to the gentlemen as well.  If you wear accessories or jewelry, make sure they do not turn into assault weapons while dancing.

 If you are interested in dancing, show your intentions.
Excuse yourself and stand by the edge of the dance floor to let others know of your intentions; if you are with a group or at a table, that might prevent others from approaching you.  Do not expect someone to interrupt your conversation with another.  Try not to carry on a prolonged conversation if you are close to the edge of the dance floor, give room to those looking to dance.

Always ask for a dance in a polite manner, whether verbally or non-verbally.
It is acceptable for a follower to initiate a dance offer.  It is also a nice touch to introduce yourself.  Seek out those looking to dance, avoid bothering anyone who has no desire to dance.  If you must interrupt a conversation for a dance, do so discreetly.  Never go out to the dance floor and then motion someone to join you.

 If you must decline a dance offer, do so sincerely.
It is not an offense to sit out a song or two.  Sitting out a song means never to accept another invitation for the same song that you have declined from someone else.  The best way to decline an offer is to not get one in the first place; stay engaged in activities, like conversation, that deter others from asking.

Gracefully accept any rejection to a dance offer.
If the same person denied your offers several times within the same event, take the hint that the person may have no interest in dancing with you.  One’s presence at a dance event is not an obligation to dance with everyone.

The leader always escorts the follower onto the dance floor, regardless of who initiated the offer.
It is also customary for the leader and follower to meet up by the edge of the dance floor, mostly from a non-verbal invitation.

When proceeding onto the dance floor, do so cautiously.
Dancers on the dance floor always have the right of way.  Never walk across the dance floor while other people are dancing.

 During The Dance:

 Accepting to dance is an obligation to dance the entire song.
One never terminates the dance pre-maturely, unless there is significant reason.  A person dancing below your expectation is not a significant reason.  If you must pre-maturely terminate a dance, do so without making a scene.

Dancing multiple songs in a row with the same partner is common practice.
If you decide to dance another song, it is not necessary to thank your partner.  In Argentina, thanking your partner signifies your desire to conclude the dance.  However, in the United States, it is quite common for partners to say thanks between songs.  So, if you wish to conclude a dance at the end of a song, gesture or discreetly inform your partner that you wish to stop.  Never turn around abruptly to leave the dance floor to conclude the dance.  If a live band is performing, face the stage and applaud after each song.

Respect your partner at all times during the dance.
It is rather common to dance close in tango, but it's not a requirement.  Dancing close is not an invitation for inappropriate behavior.  Be sensitive to your partner’s comfort level with their personal space.

Customarily, talking is inappropriate while dancing tango.
Talk between songs or when off the dance floor.  If you must talk on the floor, keep it to a minimum.  It is especially inappropriate to talk on the floor while a live band is performing.

Never conduct any teaching or practicing at a milonga; save that for a practica.
If you must show someone a step, never do so on the main area of the dance floor; find a side area that does not obstruct the other dancers.

Under no circumstances should you correct your partner while on the dance floor.
One can only correct one's partner during a class or practica; and then, only if requested.  It it never acceptable to correct someone in a milonga.

Tango is a traveling dance; the line of dance is counter clockwise.
One must maintain common dance flow when dancing at the outer perimeter; if you find yourself interrupting the dance flow, move toward the center to let others pass.

 Respect other dancers’ space.
Experienced dancers should give novice dancers the room they need.  Novice dancers should stay closer to the center of the dance floor to give experienced dancers their space.  Experienced dancers wanting to perform steps that interrupt the dance flow should do so toward the center of the floor.

Be conscientious and courteous to your fellow dancers.
Proceed cautiously to avoid bumping into other dancers.  If you do, apologize and try to slow down, recollect yourself, and be more careful.

Use proper judgment when on a crowded dance floor.
Only execute steps that do not violate other dancers’ space.  Avoid any steps that could potentially hurt others; this is the time to use one's milonguero knowledge.

 Respect your partner’s dance style.
Social dancing can be a compromise when partners of extreme differences in dancing style dance together.  One should always be willing to compromise.

 Respect your partner’s level of dancing.
If you are the more experienced dancer, compromise by dancing at your partner’s level.

 After The Dance:

The leader always escorts the follower off the dance floor after the dance.
Escort the follower back to the original point of rendezvous, extend your gratitude and walk away gracefully.

Dancing is not a favor you do for someone.
The proper response to “thank you” after a dance is “thank you,” not “you’re welcome.”


Teaching on the Dance Floor

Often intermediate level leaders with some experience like to teach followers on the dance floor. This is generally frowned upon because often the leader is not qualified and his "teaching" is often unwelcome and resented by followers. It is also a distraction to the other dancers who want to dance in a party atmosphere, not an instructional one. In the Argentine tango world, there are special practice dance parties called "practicas." Teaching and practicing at these practicas are very much in place.

Generally it is best to avoid teaching at a milonga. Sometimes however, it may be appropriate to give hints or advice to dance partner. If you do offer suggestions here are some guidelines:

1) Ask first before giving a hint. Never just offer a hint without checking to see if your partner is receptive.

2) Do it softly and unobtrusively so that your suggestions are not apparent to anyone else.

3) Time your suggestions appropriately. A good time in in-between songs or when there are few other dancers on the dance floor.

Teaching on the Floor And Etiquette at Milongas

—Bob Dronski

The following letter was disseminated on Tango-L, the Internet list server on Argentine tango; Robert Hank is from Portland, a vibrant tango community. I feel this message makes some very important points. It discusses topics that many people have had concerns about and have made those concerns known to me in no uncertain terms. I hope that this becomes a point of discussion and is considered seriously by everyone, as I am sure we all wish the tango community to thrive in Chicago, and the only way to thrive is to nurture newcomers and not scare them away.

Hey everybody,

I am really happy to see how this discussion is going because our manners at milongas are probably the most important factor effecting the growth of our dance communities. I would like to add my comments to some things that have been said over the last few days in this thread.
First of all since we all seem to agree that teaching on the dance floor at a milonga is a bad thing, we all need to do something in our communities to reduce it to a minimum. As someone said earlier, this is often done by fairly inexperienced leaders who have been dancing for awhile, and who need to feel like they know something. These people usually dance only with beginners, and they teach a steady stream on the floor from the beginning of the milonga until they leave. I don’t think they mean to really hurt anybody. I think that they are happy to have the feeling that they know something, and they are still very excited about tango and want to share the fun. They are also probably still feeling insecure in their knowledge; dancing with beginners gives them the illusion of knowledge. That said, though, the constant teaching does drive beginners away.
I have seen this in our community over the years. I have been involved in running a practica or hosting a milonga for more than 4 years, and I can say with confidence that when there are as few as 2 or 3 leaders doing this very few beginners stick around. This is the primary effect, but also the ones doing all the teaching seem to stop learning. Since these people have such a negative effect on the growth of your community they need to be persuaded to stop teaching and just dance. They will begin to learn again and become better dancers, and you will be able to keep more of the new people who try tango. You don’t have to chase anyone away; you just have to establish some good social rules.
There has been a lot of talk about whether or not beginners belong at the milonga. Manuel has said that the milonga may not be a good place for beginners; Tom stated that he doesn't’t like lessons for beginners before milongas. I am going to differ with these opinions in a few ways:
Certainly in a place like Buenos Aires –where there are so many places to dance, so many practicas to go to, and an established dance culture –beginners probably shouldn't’t try to dance at milongas right away. Navigation is so challenging at a crowded Buenos Aires milonga that they have little hope of doing well. They will probably disrupt the flow of the whole dance floor. Now, with that said, I need to also bunch of people who think they know something already, trying out brand new steps on the dance floor. In my experience the beginners adapt to the situation quite quickly. They are rarely the navigation hazard that the more experienced dancers (who know lots of steps) can be. Beginners tend to be modest, take smaller steps, and generally try to stay out of the way.
I have heard many dance teachers complain that it is very hard to get their students to go out dancing. It isn’t hard to understand when we tell them that they shouldn't go out right away. We make it sound like it is so difficult. The truth of the matter is that for them it will never be as easy to get on the dance floor as it is right at the beginning when they don’t know much. They won’t feel like they have to be anything because they are just getting started; and they will stick to easier steps, and often dance well enough. They will get plenty of encouragement from the rest of the community.
About three months ago I began to crack down on some inexperienced dancers who were teaching their way through the night at the Monday milonga. Back then on a normal night about 80 people showed up. Since the teaching has mostly stopped, I have seen some dramatic growth. Now an average night is 100 - 110 people. Considering that people are on vacation and I am not seeing some of the regular dancers, this translates to between 30 and 40 new people who are dancing regularly. Surprisingly the navigation on the floor isn’t impossible. The beginners join the ronda, the middle of the floor is empty, and I rarely get bumped into. There is a little chaos, but that just gives me more practice navigating.
Maybe you don’t want beginners in your milongas, but until we have a bigger community and crowding that makes it impossible for beginners, I want anybody who is interested in tango to share our dance floors. I want to have a friendly environment that lets people have fun. We all know that the road is long — that doesn’t mean that it can’t be enjoyable.

Happy dancing,

Robert Hank, Portland


Editors Note:

A excellent collection of Tango-L posting are available at:

This version of Tango Etiquette includes tips on dancing courtesy of San Francisco Tango.

This is an even more detailed view of Tango Etiquette which I think everyone should read.

Another thought provoking discussion on A Code of Tango Etiquette.

You can see the often quoted 12 points of Tango Etiquette at produced by Inscene Online Magazine.


* Email
* First Name
* Last Name
* Phone
Interested in Private Lessons?

Have a question about learning
to tango or your upcoming event?

Stay Connected

Become a Fan on Facebook Follow On Twitter Read Our Blog


Learn about Tango's history:
a 3-part audio documentary.

This text will be replaced by the flash music player.

Tango Classes Milongas & Shows

You can learn to dance tango and you don't need a partner!

About the Tango Dance

Tango is sweeping the world- learn about this passionate sensual dance, its history and music:

San Diego Tango Scene

Published articles and links to Florentino's blog on Tango and on San Diego's Tango scene:

Photos and Videos

Pictures of our argentine tango classes, our performances, our tango friends and tango wedding dance moments.