The Importance of Tango Etiquette

At the Tampa Tango Festathon, we are trying to create a truly memorable experience, not just an event. We strongly believe that the codigos (codes) of tango help everyone have a better time while dancing and lift the quality of the milongas and classes. If you are a newer dancer or have otherwise not been exposed to the etiquette rules, please keep in mind these codigos while dancing and try your best. If you need help or have questions, just ask one of the Festathon staff volunteers or talk to the teachers. If you are not new (the vast majority of you attending this event), please be a good role model by displaying upstanding etiquette and by being graceful and kind with others, especially those taking classes to improve their dance. 


Here are some general guidelines:

1.    Ask before merging. Before stepping onto a crowded dance floor, if you are a leader, make eye contact with the leader whom you wish to enter the floor in front of. The leader should understand your request and indicate his assent with a nod, wink or other visual cue, and you may then enter the line of dance. It is important as a leader already dancing that you pay attention to those who might be entering the dance floor.

2.     Maintain a lane. Argentine tango is danced in strict circular lanes with couples advancing around the room in a counterclockwise direction called a “line of dance”. There may be on or more concentric lanes moving simultaneously. Once in a lane, avoid changing lanes during the dance.

3.     Look before backing up. Never step backwards against traffic blindly. Likewise, avoid other movements that cause you or your partner to suddenly occupy space behind you in line of dance because the dancer behind you may have already begun advancing into that space. If you do step backwards, a general rule is no more than one step backwards.

4.     Avoid passing. Tango is not a race. If the dancer in front of you is advancing more slowly than you would like, alter your dance so that it is more circular and less linear. You can do this by simply utilizing the molinete or giro.

5.     Never zigzag. Cutting in and out of line of dance is very poor form and disturbing to the dancers you are cutting in front of. If you choose to dance in the center of the room, remain there throughout the song. If you dance in a given lane, finish the dance in that same lane.

6.     No parking. Standing and chatting with your partner between songs is fine, but keep an awareness of when the couples around you start dancing again and move accordingly. If the other dancers have begun to dance and you wish to continue your conversation, simply step off the floor so you don’t obstruct them.

7.     Don’t talk, just dance! Talking while dancing is inconsiderate reveals the dancer’s lack of presence in the moment and is distracting to your partner and other dancers. Save the conversation for when the music stops. Also, teaching or correcting your partner at a milonga is particularly inappropriate. Save it for a practica.

8.     Don’t monopolize the space. There are many styles of tango. Some require a relatively large amount of floor space; some require less. All styles are fine under the right conditions. If a floor is crowded, dance small, not taking up any more space than any of your fellow dancers. 

9.     Dance with the room. Aspire to dance with an awareness of all of the dancers around you. Do not allow gaps in the line of dance in front of you to form as this will cause a pileup of dancers behind you. When the music begins, start dancing when the majority of other dancers do.

10.  Avoid dangerous moves. Certain moves, such as high boleos and ganchos, can be dangerous on a crowded floor. Save them for less crowded conditions.


Use the Cabeceo to invite and accept dances. The most elegant way to invite and accept a dance is to use the cabeceo, executed entirely with the eyes and body language. Once a dance is accepted, please find your partner on the outside of the floor. Do not walk across the floor once the tanda has started. If you want to dance with someone but they look away, respect their decision to not dance with you. Do not approach them verbally and do not stare at them. The best way to get their attention is by dancing well with somebody else, then try to cabeceo them later. 

Use the Cabeceo to invite and accept dances.

The most elegant way to invite and accept a dance is to use the cabeceo, executed entirely with the eyes and body language. Once a dance is accepted, please find your partner on the outside of the floor. Do not walk across the floor once the tanda has started. If you want to dance with someone but they look away, respect their decision to not dance with you. Do not approach them verbally and do not stare at them. The best way to get their attention is by dancing well with somebody else, then try to cabeceo them later. 

We will strictly enforce general tango etiquette and line of dance. We reserve the right to eject guests from the milongas and refuse admission to those who purposefully choose not to follow the rules of the floor or those who are aggressive towards other dancers.

This is for the safety and enjoyment of everyone. 

Tips for the USF Tango Fest

LOCATION: All workshops and milongas (except for Thursday) will be held at The Hip Room Dance Studio, located at 1701 N. Franklin Street, in Downtown Tampa! 

 

PARKING: There is a big lot you can park in directly across the street from the venue, on the corner of Henderson and Franklin. There is also plenty of street parking along Henderson west of the venue and all along Franklin. 

Some street spots are metered by the city. You will have to pay for these spots on Friday up until 6pm. After that, parking is free. 


REGISTRATION: When you arrive to the venue, you will check in at the registration desk located upstairs to the right. 

ETIQUETTE: Line of dance will be enforced. Please be courteous of other dancers on the floor. Enter and exit the ronda properly. No talking or teaching on the dance floor. Use cabaceo. Don't be a butthead. You get the idea. If everybody follows the codigos, we all have a much better, safer, time!  

PHOTOGRAPHY: We have the amazing Bassel Hamieh capturing beautiful moments the whole weekend. You of course are welcome to take photos as well, but NO FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY will be allowed. 

THE BALLET ROOM: The ballet room will be used for ballet classes and a getaway for our instructors and DJs. Please don't go in. 


Physically Surviving A Tango Fest

I remember my first tango festival like it was yesterday. I was attending the Denver Labor Day festival with my friend Richard and had no idea what to expect. He prepared me the best he could but I still felt like I was in another world once I walked in. So many classes. I took them all! Every single class. So many hours of milongas! I danced every single moment possible. The only break I had was the evening break scheduled in the event meant for eating. I slept very little. When I returned I needed 2 full days to recover from sleep deprivation and another week to readjust my body to normal activity. 

Many of you may have already perfected your action plan for long tango weekends, but for those of you who may be new or rusty, here are some tips that I follow. 

1. Get plenty of exercise, rest properly, and eat healthy meals in the week leading up to the event. 

Now this one is a general life tip, but it's especially pertinent when you need to be at the top of your game during a tango weekend. Being well-rested, bright-eyed, and bushy-tailed going into an event is going to improve your stamina over the long run. 

2. If you're new(ish) at this, take all the classes & go to all the milongas!

Go big or go home. Seriously. Don't miss the opportunity to take classes with amazing instructors. You may never have this opportunity again. Also, go to the milongas...and dance! The best way to improve is to get floor time. Yes, this probably means you will tire out before the last tanda is called, and that's ok. Make the most of it but pace yourself as well.

3. Drink plenty of water, eat light meals and snacks, and save the caffeine intake for later.

First thing when you wake up, drink a cup/bottle of water. Make sure you do this often, every 2 hours, or after every class. Also, don't try to cram in a big meal thinking you may not eat again all day. It will make you feel full, tired, and probably less agile. Eat light, eat regularly. The USF Tango Festathon will have healthy snacks throughout the classes and milongas. If you can avoid the caffeine first thing in the morning, do so. It will be much more effective if you wait until you really need it later in the day or evening. 

4. Change your shoes.

Hopefully you brought another pair of shoes (especially if you're a follower). The muscles in your feet will get very tired and sore, so it's nice to be able to swap into different shoes that put your foot in a different position, thereby utilizing different muscles. I like to take classes in flats and then dance in heels at the milongas, until my feet are too tired and I change back into flats. For leaders, as long as the shoes are different in terms of shape/make/etc, it will do you good to change as well. Jazz flats are an awesome, inexpensive backup. Your feet will thank you.

5. Rest.

If you're feeling very tired, it's ok to give your mind and body a rest. Maybe this means just sitting out during a class and watching instead. Maybe it means taking a power nap. Maybe it means skipping a milonga. Only you know how far to push yourself. I am notorious along the West coast tango scene for skipping a big evening milonga, simply because I'd rather sleep. 

6. Stretch. 

Did you know that stretching has a similar effect on you as caffeine? Stretch first thing in the morning, stretch throughout the day, and take time to stretch during the milongas. You don't necessarily need to do a full stretch workout, but remove your shoes and stretch your toes and feet, or stand up and stretch your back and legs. I also highly recommend that everyone take the TANGOFLEX class on Saturday morning. Yes, it's early (9:45am isn't that early). It will help relieve tension in your body from the previous day as well as get blood flowing to all your muscles and prime your body for the long day ahead. You'll seriously do much better in the classes and milongas with this class. 

7. Relax.

Make time (notice I did not say "find time") to massage and/or soak your feet. Ice soaks and epsom salt baths are amazing tricks. Also, you can simply lie on the floor or a couch with your legs up on the wall or pillows. This helps the fluids that cause swelling to drain away. It also gives your lower back a nice stretch. 

Hugs, 

Trista

Coming next...Mentally Surviving A Tango Fest!