How social skills, can transform your milonga experience

Taking advantage of some free time during the holidays I spent some time reading on social skills.  During some basic research I found a podcast hosted by Tim Ferriss, talking about “how you can become the best version of you”

At some point Ramit Sethi,  an established author an owner of “I Will Teach You To Be Rich”  goes on to explain how he deals with angry people on the web.
Based on Ramit, the best way to respond is with calmness, politeness and readiness to listen.

So, you know, when he gets these super angry emails, saying things like: “F… you Ramit! You are just scamming people…”etc
He responds with something like: “Why would say that?”
Interestingly enough 50% of the people won’t even respond back, 25% they will just insist…
To whom he jokingly responds by saying something like: “What’s going on, are you having a bad hair day?” attaching a picture of someone with really bad hair..!
Last 25% will reply back, stating that they didn’t even expect an answer.

If you listen to the podcast, you will hear another great guest Josh Waitzkin,  a chess prodigy and a jiu-jitsu black belt, supporting this attitude, of responding to angry/ aggressive/ dirty opponents on real or cyber rings, with a “smile”!

Are will still talking about Tango here or is this becoming a social skills site?

Well, I heard the podcast, while I was receiving your comments on the last two articles on milonga etiquette.

Lets see some of them together:
When a leader asks me verbally (I much prefer the cabeceo!) what is wrong with, “no, thanks”?” Colette

“(…)as a leader we have to turn down dances as well and it’s horrible sometimes. Arran

In a little over 4 years so far I’ve only had one lady directly turn me down for a dance and it was quite tactless of her as an instructor to claim “not feeling well” and then dance the next tanda with another instructor. That lady will never make 10 cents from me or my wife ever again, but I guess she really wasn’t thinking in those terms at the time. (…)”

The flip side is that the men whom you decline to dance with are unlikely to ask you to dance again. Most men have a mental ‘blacklist’ of women they will not ask. (…)” Daniel

(…) In my local Tango community, leaders are a precious commodity. At house milongas, followers readily decline invitations, ending up sitting side by side on a sofa while spurned leaders explore wine-bottle dregs in the kitchen. But the music is great!” Max

We have TWO major Tango/social skills problems here
  1. People who are asking–leaders or followers–you can’t tell the difference between rejection and basic human interaction. Don’t get me wrong, I have been there. Standing in front of everyone asking for a dance, and hearing NO..! I get it. It is shameful, hurtful, maybe even unfair, but it is NOT a failure, it is a test. A test that you need to work more to pass!
  2. People on the receiving end, having to decline a dance. As you can see “no thanks” is not received very well…So if you don’t want to end up sitting through every milonga or dancing with the same people for the rest of your life, you either need to start saying yes, or become a bit more communicative.
  3. For both. Blacklisting or elimiting people,  is a BAD idea.
    If you are the one being “rejected” and you are blacklisting people, you will be the one being bitter, you will end up dancing with a very small, specific group of people, and you won’t even consider taking up the challenge to ask someone different.
    For the  rejecters, consider this,  what will happen if the person, you’ve just eliminated, gets so good after a while that you really WANT a dance from them, you think they will say yes to you..?
What can we do to fix it?

Well, first things first, aside from social skills, you need to start using the cabeceo. I have some great tips, and guidelines for you, in Part 8, of the Ultimate training guide for leaders and followers, which is offered with your subscription to

Secondly, you need to build on your social skills…haha
So,  lets make some good use of the insight offered by the podcast above.

For the people on the asking end:

  • When you hear: “No!” or “No, thanks!” or some lame excuse.
    What have you been doing, up till now? You got angry, disappointed and/or frustrated, and walked away.
    Smile and say: “Thank you! Enjoy your night!”
    And say it, LIKE YOU MEAN IT.

50% of the people, will be completely unfazed by this. 25% will think, you are being sarcastic and another 25%, will change their attitude and will respond nicely in return.
Which takes us to the next step.
Use your social skills set to establish a better connection with them. Saying hello when you see them, or good night on the way out, for example. At the same time, work on your Tango. When you start feeling that you have made measurable progress, you can ask them again, or they might even ask you!

  • When you are dancing with someone and you realize that something is wrong.
    What you have been doing, up till now? You ignore it, and then you make a new addition to your blacklist.
    If they are insulting or physically hurting you, you wait for the song to end, and then you say:
    “Thank you! But I am sorry, I don’t think this is working out. Lets take a break” And you start walking away.
    Do NOT engage in a conversation on the dancefloor, if your partner wants to talk about it, do it OFF the dancefloor, making sure you are firm but still calm and polite.
    If it is just a dance that has gotten a bit off track:
    If you are a leader, slow things down, you can even come to a gentle pause without completely stopping, soften the embrace, readjust and start over. Use simpler steps, making sure tension is not recreated between the two of you.
    If you are a follower, soften the embrace, gently try to slow things down using technique tricks and/or embellishments, without tensing up and blocking your partner.

Again, 50% will not even notice, 25% will think you are unable to lead or follow properly and the remaining  25% will realize that something is wrong and will try to help as well.

For the people on the receiving end.

  • I strongly recommend, you reconsider who you decline. Often times, the person asking might be just an ok dancer, but he/she might a very nice person, with a true passion for the dance and something different to offer than advanced footwork.
  • How you decline an invitation, is not getting processed ONLY by the person asking BUT also by the people watching.
    So instead, of just saying: “No, thanks!”, which looks like you are dismissing them.
    Say: “Thank you! Unfortunately, I have to decline this one, I hope you will enjoy the milonga. ”
    Add “maybe some other time” if you think there is a chance he/she will become a better fit for you.
    This way, people hear something positive–thank you–first instead of no. Plus, you spend a little bit of your time gently declining their invite, instead of bluntly saying no, which will put at ease the people who are watching, making them more comfortable asking you themselves.

50% of the people who approach you, will still blacklist you. 25% will think that you are playing nice and the remaining 25% will nicely respond back to you and will try to keep a nice relationship with you, which mind end up in a good dance.

  • When you are dancing with someone and you realize it was a bad idea, saying yes to start with.
    If they are insulting or physically hurtful, don’t think that because you said yes, you have to endure and stay until the end of the tanda.
    Just like mentioned above, calmly but firmly disengage yourselves, using the script above–or something similar to that.
    If, on the other hand, your dance just got a bit off track, use the tricks mentioned above to find some comfort and give your partner a second chance.

Improving your social skills, can actually transform your milonga experience. Just imagine, walking in a milonga, guilt free, with the ability to politely decline an invitation without loosing your charm, AND be in control of your dance without hurting peoples feelings.
Try the tips above and send me an email with your answers, questions and experiences or leave a comment below.


P.S: Stay tuned as, very soon,  I will be releasing a guide on social skills for milongueros and milongueras, which I think you will love!

Decline dances in a milonga, without qualifying for bitchhood

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:


“How to ask someone to dance” –Christmas Edition

Ask someone to dance…mmm…easier said than done! Right leaders?
But what can we do..?

Holiday Milongas and Galas are up and coming, are you still feeling overwhelmed in a milonga environment?
Does even talking about this, make you dread agreeing to all these facebook invites?
Do you still need to give yourself the “TALK”…? You know the one I am talking about…
Where you remind yourself that: “You got this!” and that this year you have spent so many hours on your Tango, that you deserve to hear more “yes”s than “no”s. And if a follower doesn’t see is “OK!”

If so….
Firstly, keep in mind that you are NOT alone!
Nobody likes to go out knowing that they will end up secretly hoping that they could just disappear.
Secondly, you are in luck because I have a list for you. A worst-to-best list on ways of asking someone to dance–Christmas edition!

Here are a few quick tips on “how to ask for a dance..” that you can take into consideration in the next milonga!


ask santa (1)

Equivalent to: Grabbing your desired partner’s arm as they pass by…

Leaders, I know that, you are feeling uncomfortable and that you want to play cool, BUT…NO! Just not this way…please!
Don’t grab people’s arms as they pass by to go to the bar…unless they are a good friend.
(it has happened to me…never went back to the place…)
Also, tapping on their shoulder, if they are not looking your way..? BAD idea! If they are not a good friend of yours…they are probably ignoring you.
You get the idea..? Anything threatening, will not do!

ask santa (2)

Equivalent to:
Leader: How are you?
Follower: (smiles) I…
Leaders: Lets dance!

(it has happened to me…I laughed…the first time)
If you don’t care, don’t ask!

Ok! I am joking…I think.
Of course, you care..!
And, I am sure, you are in fact very nice people BUT when the stress, or discomfort, or awkwardness…or all of the above… take over, then this is the outcome.
Socially dancing with someone, means sharing 12mins together, that doesn’t mean it is a dance-only experience.
Chatting is allowed and often times required!
And “How are you?” is in fact a good opening line. Simple, straightforward, perfect to break the ice. Just wait to hear the response!

ask to santa (3)

Equivalent to: Playing too cool, before or while dancing…

Commenting on other people’s dance level/ abilities.
Making fun of other people’s way of dancing.
(it has happened to me…not funny)
Sharing either personal or private information…SO personal that the follower has NO COMMENT to make.
(it has happened to me. I smiled awkwardly and I avoid him ever since)
Commenting on your partner’s dance abilities while dancing. Even if the feedback is good and/or helpful it can be disturbing. Instead, wait for the dance to end and then proceed with caution!

ask santa (4)

Equivalent to: Sharing your bio before or while dancing!

My guess is that, you are trying to get  off to a better start by showing how much you have accomplished in Tango. How many classes you have taken, to how many festivals you have been, how many privates you have taken and how many compliments you received from your teachers…
I am sorry to tell you but NOBODY CARES!
This is not a job interview.
Ask without presenting the reasons why they should accept!

ask santa (4)

Equivalent to: Ask and then start apologizing for 12mins straight…

Is this a milonga..? Ah! Sorry… I don’t know many moves.
I am sorry, I am beginner.
Damn, sorry I didn’t lead this right.
Sorry, this didn’t really work out.
Did I step on you again…? Sorry!

So here is how you can fix this…
Before you ask someone to dance, wait for the first song of the tanda. This way you can make sure, it is something you can and like to dance to.
Choose your partner wisely. Find someone at your level, not someone that you will feel uncomfortable or inferior dancing with.
On another note, mistakes can be “interesting surprises” (by a friend) happening during your dance. They don’t matter. Don’t make a big fuss. Just keep going! And lastly…
Apologize, only if you step on your partner OR if you collide with another couple!

ask santa (6)

Equivalent to: The perfect leader!

The perfect leader is the one who has good dance skills and a nice personality.
One who is comfortable enough to chat, with confidence and who actually cares to connect with the other person.
Take your time, enjoy every second of the milonga either by chatting or by dancing!
When the time comes to dance, make sure you are very clear with what you want…like young Spencer in the letter above.
He doesn’t want just any truck…no no no…he wants a remote control GMC truck!
Keep it simple, clear and straight forward especially while dancing with someone for the first time, they will appreciate it!

So to sum it up. When you ask someone to dance, you:
  • Wait for the song to start
  • Choose your partner wisely
  • Show confidence but NOT arrogance
  • Bring in a sociable, relaxed personality
  • Before you dance, spend a few seconds chatting
    (Maybe something like: Hi! How are you? Wanna dance?)
  • Concluding, during the dance: Keep it simple and clear and don’t comment on or make fun of other people
Now if you need more help on the social etiquette and the cabeceo…

Subscribe to get the Ultimate guide on Tango training for leaders and followers, we cover all that in Part 8..!

Happy Holidays everyone!
Hit the holiday milongas with no fear!


Pictures by:




Forward Ochos…Heel or Toe first? This is the question…

Last week we talked about how better is better than more, looking into ochos specifically. Which brought up one of the classic Tango questions: Do we walk into our forward ochos using our heel or toes first?

This reminded me of this great answer Sebastian Arce gave to another classic Tango question: What style of Tango do you dance?

He said (in approximation): “They asked us, do you dance Tango Salon, and I said yes. Do you dance Tango nuevo? And I said yes. Do you dance Tango milonguero? And I said yes. Do you dance Tango escenario? And I said yes. (…) We dance Tango!”

There you have it!

As my valued mentor would say: The YES and Yes principle.
How does the principle go?
When you find yourself asking: Should I do X or is it better to Y? Most of the times it is BEST if you do X AND Y.

It is a principle that can get you out of false dichotomies, so you can focus on important issues, in your everyday life, in your health, in your fitness, in your Tango.

People ask me, all the time, questions like:

  • should I learn to dance in a closed or an open embrace?
  • is it better to go to milongas more or to practicas?
  • should I focus on sequences or on technique?
But the best answer to these questions and many more, is YES and YES!

Why do you have to choose between Heel or Toes during your forward steps?
Do you really want to exclude one option that will give different dynamics to your dance, for the sake of making a choice?
Especially when you can say YES and YES, and make it more fun this way!
So, in the video below, I will show you forward ochos–of different types–stepping forward with the heel and with toes first and give you a quick drill for toe-to-heel transfers.

A better forward ocho…Heel Vs Toes


P.S: What dichotomies are you faced with? Shoot me an email with what you want to talk about!

A Drill for a better Ocho!–You need Better NOT More..!

When I started dancing Tango–I am referring to the very first milonga I danced in–I had only taken 4 classes, so I knew–or thought that I knew–how to walk, how to do an ocho and possibly some basic sequence combining the two…That’s it!

Thinking…WHAT? HOW?

The “how” is now obvious to me, though it wasn’t back then…
My teacher cared and taught me to care as well!
I care for Tango. I cared from the very first class. Therefore I wanted to go out, see Tango, hear Tango, dance Tango. I wanted to be part of that community, to be part of Tango.

In my first milonga, of course, I was terrified!
I still remember it…
I went with a friend, we walked up the stairs and backed up a couple of times. Then when we finally made it, we sat at the table at the very end of the room, with our backs pressed against the wall and hoping that no one will notice us..!
Needless to say that didn’t work…haha
Very soon, we were asked to dance…
And guess what?
We had a blast! It was a night full of music, dancing, chatting and meeting new people. Amazing!

We very soon realized that it wasn’t as scary as we thought. We didn’t need to know every possible step leaders can lead nor have a great technique BUT we did need to care.

Care to become members of this community, to become better in our dancing and most importantly, care to find ONE basic thing that we can enjoyably do while on the dancefloor.
If, for example, we could do an ocho, feeling like we are dancing from head to toe, without struggling, and feeling that our partner can relax into our embrace while leading us…Then THAT was IT for us. We needed nothing more.

If you have spent years, asking and/or getting simply more…More sequences. More steps. More technique. More milongas. More guest instructors. More years. More dances. More experience. More confidence…More, more, more…



Think of all these mediocre restaurants out there, where they have a 5 page menu but NOT ONE dish on that menu is worth traveling across town for.
Don’t confuse variety, range, knowledge with quality.
You don’t need MORE, you need BETTER!

As Seth Godin says: “Better is better than more!”

So here is my suggestion for today: PRECISION

ONE basic drill, on a basic Tango element, in this case the ocho, focusing on ONE important characteristic of it, precision.
Argentine Tango technique on ochos

As you see in the video, I am starting with a small traveling forward ocho–very basic, for leaders and followers.
I am NOT doing any big challenging pivots or embellishments. I haven’t placed the obstacles too far/ too close together or tried power my way through…
I am taking my time, focused and with the intention of making the pivot precise enough to pass in between the obstacles. When I can’t make my way through the little balls of paper, I stop and repeat.

Try it out!

Focus on getting better on the ordinary.
Actually…focus on getting EXTRA- ordinary on the ordinary!
You need BETTER not MORE.


Invest in your Tango- find the BEST Tango teacher for YOU!

SGet 10X more out of classes and workshops by choosing your Tango teachers wisely..!

Last week we took a peek into the world of luxury and I told you how I learned to get pasted my cringing reaction over a 250$ for a private class and tried to figure out how investing in a great Tango teacher makes perfect sense.

Then I asked if you have bought/done something that might be considered a luxury but you still allowed it to yourself.
All the answers were great by the way. I LOVED every single one of them!

Let me share a few here with you:

“I know someone in Montreal that travels regularly to Toronto to take classes (…). My first reaction was that this person was a little extreme, traveling 6 hours in and 6 hours out, on a regular basis, just to take classes… On the other hand as a tango student you have to go for the material you want for yourself and in the end it’s not money wasted. It’s money you’ve invested in yourself.” —Louis

“a $1700 air filter, can actually breathe properly around the place” —Jeremy

“(…)On the class you get the seeds of valuable information and axioms from which you can derive work and knowledge for your tango for months to come.

If the Tango teacher is actually that good and you can afford it, this is not tango hell, but tango heaven.” —Matevž

“(…)I had to pick flights that would get me there at very specific times so I could get back to teach my lessons on time. So overall, the lesson was definitely over the $400 mark. So glad I did that. When it’s worth it, it’s worth it!

(…)I did a $10k training for developing my dance career. That seemed like a crazy expense to a lot of my friends, but I made $3k of it back during the actual 5 day training and easily made the rest back soon afterwards.(…)
I think investment/value in total is the important aspect I think about. Some things might be worth the money but not the time or vice versa. These were all worth both the money and the time by a long shot.”–Andrew

“There have been many times that traveled to Athens from my home town for one milonga. When you love something, you pay with no second thoughts (…)” —Minas

What do you notice about these comments?

This is what I notice:

  • “You pay with no second thoughts”
  • “worth both the money and the time by a long shot”
  • “when it’s worth it, it’s worth it”
  • “it’s not money wasted. It is money you’ve invested in yourself”

So, do you see? When we actually experience luxuries, we see how amazing it feels! We realize that luxury it is not just for some snobbish, arrogant, high-end, out-of-this world person..
And if it is about something you really love, you don’t even consider it a luxury…you just allow it to yourself, preferring to cut on things you don’t really like..!

I also noticed, though, that nobody–No, wait!I am lying! There was actually ONE person–said that their luxury was, paying for grad school.

OOooh! Yes! Right…You remembered that one now, didn’t you? haha

Why though isn’t it, the first thing that comes to mind?
Simply, because it is something you know you are going to pay for, plus we consider it a necessity, a matter almost of survival, NOT a luxury, even if you can’t really afford it, you will find a way.


Like grad school, or great air filters, you will hopefully reach a PIVOTAL point in your Tango where you will need to make the leap to the next level. At that level, where every extension counts, every breath makes a difference. A level, where you can dance with anyone, anywhere, of any Tango style and of any level and still be amazing, instead of frustrated.
To get there you will need to shift your perspective from simply learning to Tango to actually understanding and dancing Tango.
When Veron asked me what I wanted to work on I told him: “I want to become a more active follower”
Why? Because I NEEDED to extend myself to a different level, to broaden my understanding and knowledge. Not only for myself but for my students as well!

This is something ALL high end professionals train and retrain, not only because they love what they do, or because they want to be the BEST. But because they need to change, they need to evolve, they need to feel they are getting better and better.
Inspired by them, we need to shift our perspective from being JUST a student to becoming a dancer.
Will that happen in your first year of learning Tango? NO!
But does it mean that only professionals go through it? Absolutely not!
And when you get there, you will need the right teacher.

It was funny, in one of your messages, you were trying to economically explain to me, how each Tango teacher charges, depending on the market, how the currency makes a huge difference and all that…
Thank you truly!
But I stopped making excuses for myself, knowing that I NEEDED a class like that, knowing that it would be the best choice at the best time.
That class opened a path of further improvement for me. Until this time–ONE year later–I am still going back to that class during my daily practice routine, revisiting specific elements. Plus, I got more privates for myself sharing the knowledge he shared with me.
So economically, it makes sense…Instead of doing multiple cheaper privates, you do ONE expensive private that will shake your Tango world!

You can go by life buying cheaper clothes, cheaper shoes, cheaper watches, cheaper EVERYTHING, everything disposable…BUT the question is when you get the chance to shift your perspective to getting-and-keeping-forever WHAT WILL YOU DO?

Thankfully, we do NOT choose people only based on price–maybe in the past, but not anymore…haha
Most of the times it has to do with finding the RIGHT person!

Where were we in our story..?
Oh, yes…
Me: “I want to be a more active follower” and
Him: “Ok!”

I have to admit I panicked there a bit…so I added, just to be on the safe side:
“I am not talking about technique…”

He  looked up from his iPod and without missing a beat he said: “I know!”
Me thinking: “THIS IS IT! This is going to be an amazing class!”
The Right Person at the Right Time!

The Best Tango Teacher for YOU!

Get 10X more out of your classes and workshops by choosing the right Tango teacher for you.
No more time to be wasted!
Choose the BEST Tango teacher for you, make every minute of every class count, following the guide below:

Find the BEST Tango teacher for YOU! (Full guide PDF)


An Inspiring Tango teacher

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