How you can practice Tango without a partner

Last week we were talking about progress.
What is progress, how you can monitor your progress and a quick way– “The Hotshot Rule”– to set up a system that will keep you in control and active.

I received a few messages, where number 1 on the list of their imaginary Tango Hotshot was, practice.
The problem though is that they don’t have a partner plus they have no idea where to start.

Why do we skip practice?

Tell me if this sounds familiar…
Inspired by someone you admire– teacher, performer, partner, fellow instructor– you decide to starting your own practice.
You book a studio for an hour or two, you get your training AND your dance shoes, you set up your playlist.
You get to the studio nice and early, to change, get water, have some fruit, focus, turn your phone off. It is time for some serious practice…

….Ten minutes later….

Ok! I am going to try something else, maybe some ochos.

…Ten minutes later….

Is this it? I have booked the studio for two hours…What do I do now?
Maybe musicality…Yeah, that is what I need. here we go!

…Ten minutes later…(If you have gotten this far)

DAMN! This is not working!

You get the idea?
What is the problem here?

There is no plan for this practice. There is a schedule, aka practicing for 2 hours on Tuesday, but there is no plan.
Why are you practicing? What are you practicing on? How do other people practice?  Where do you want to be after this practice, dance- wise?

How to practice to ensure success

So before you begin, ask yourself: Why do you want to practice?

Not acceptable answers:

  1. Because my teacher told me so
  2. I got this guide from Bautanz and I want to start using it finally
  3. I want to get better

These are not acceptable answers because they are not personal and they are not detailed.

I started practicing because I felt like shit, really awful when I danced in milongas.
I know, I know, you, who know me, are going to say: No Chrisa. Your dances weren’t shitty. I love dancing with you!
Thank you! hahaha
They were shitty though, or they weren’t good enough any more.
And I am not going to lie. In the beginning I thought the leaders I was dancing with, weren’t good enough.
BUT what are the odds, that I am doing everything correctly and it is ALWAYS the other person’s fault, especially when I am  dancing with different people, in different cities or even different countries?

Highly unlikely. So I got to work

I booked a studio, for 1 hour, knowing that I will probably won’t last in there for that long. How did I know I wouldn’t last that long?
Because, before I started practicing, I read this book: “Talent is overrated”

It is a great read not only for Tango, but for everything you want to get better at.
You will get to understand, not simply how other people practice, BUT how GREAT performers work and practice.
Their mindset, the set up, the risks they take and much more.

After you have figured out WHY and HOW now it is time for WHAT.

After a few failed attempts I realized, I needed to understand what it was specifically that felt so shitty about my dancing.
Initial response: “I don’t know it just doesn’t feel right. It feels very restrained, stiff. I don’t feel that I can express my self through the dance” Not very specific…

BUT words can lie, MOVEMENT never lies.

So, I started working on the most basic element of Tango, the walk. Only I slowed it down a lot and waited for the problem to be revealed to me.

Symptom #1: Off balance

Back I went, to balance exercises, trying to figure out WHY I am off balance.
Misalignment, that little DEVIL!
Always remember this: The fact that you are not falling, doesn’t mean you are properly balanced, aka aligned

So I went through the same exercises again, focusing on alignment, instead of focusing on trying, tensing, compensating in order to keep my balance. Found spots of tension, found ways to release them, and then tried again.

When I started feeling somewhat better I tried my walks again.
By that time– half an hour max…– my brain was fried! haha
The rest of the time in the studio, I stretched and wrote down the problems, the possible answers, some thoughts, concerns and questions.

I left the room happy, having a clearer vision of what I wanted to get out of this.
I wanted to be able to create movement without creating tension, feeling strong but also flexible, in control but also relaxed. The first thing I would work on the next day would be the smallest, most personal movement one can make in Tango, creating the posture.

Practice makes perfect only if you know what you are doing

So bottom line here my dear friends

  1. Be brutally honest with yourselves when responding to the question WHY you want to practice.
  2. Ask your teacher for suggestions on WHAT to practice on. Study HOW great performers practice– they must be doing something right after all
  3. If you haven’t gotten the Ultimate guide on Tango practice for leaders and followers download it, with your subscription, here
  4. Don’t go ALL or NOTHING. Start with a few minutes of practice, maximum 30mins and then gradually scale up– you can find great exercises in the guide and a path to follow in order to scale up your practice.
  5. Practice is NOT the goal, practice is a system for success. So get in there trying to figure out where the real problem is, in your movement. What have you been doing that is not working anymore and what is just right. How the smallest of changes effect your movement and what does that mean for the rest of your Tango.
  6. Don’t over intellectualize it. Remember words lie, movement will tell you the truth, if you are willing to hear it.
  7. Write me an email, with a detailed question of your troubles and I will be more than happy to assist you especially if it is something that will benefit many other people on the dance floor.
  8. Don’t forget to have fun!

P.S: I know it can be scary being in a room on your own, not knowing where to start and what to do, feeling like a weirdo. But, remember when we were kids..? We would just dance, sing, act, play, just because we could. That is a child’s way of understanding the world. Instinct and trial-and-error . Give yourselves the chance, to become a child again in Tango, through Tango.

https://Photo credit: Shopping Diva via / CC BY-NC-ND

Test your progress– Define your next step– Take action!

Have you ever felt that no matter how hard you tried you weren’t making any progress?
That despite the classes, the practicas and the milongas you have hit a plateau and you are not really sure how to get out of it?

You are not alone!
We all go through these phrases. It doesn’t have to do with your talent or dedication– both of which will be challenged during this plateau period– but more with progress itself.

What is progress?

If we do a basic/ quick google search we will find this:

“a movement toward a goal or to a further or higher stage”
Biology: increasing differentiation and perfection in the course of ontogeny or phylogeny.
forward or onward movement
to grow or develop, as in complexity, scope, or severity; advance
by: Dictionary

What do you notice?

This is what I notice…
Progress doesn’t necessarily mean that we will be getting better CONTINUOUSLY.

You might be moving forward or toward your goal. You might be changing. Or you might be actually reaching a higher level.

So progress is a whole process of continuous change towards our goal, and not necessarily getting better
With this in mind the first thing you need to do is ask yourselves:

Have I spotted any changes in my dancing/ practice/ milongas/ Tango/ body?

Do NOT limit yourself to positive change. Try to find what is and/ or feels different. Positive, negative, neutral, anything at all.

For example:
I have noticed that I am not as confident with my embellishments as I was in the past. I am dong less of them and I put too much effort into them, they are too much work for me now on the dancefloor.
Maybe I was doing too many of them in the past. Or I am now focusing on other parts of my dance. Maybe the way I choose to express myself is different now than before.

This is really not positive or negative, this is probably neutral, but it is still progress. It is a differentiation that might lead to perfection if I work on my embellishments and my confidence in a healthy, open- minded way.

Now it is your turn
What changes have you noticed in yourselves regarding Tango?
Leave me a comment below or send an email!

How can we test our progress and plan the path to reach our goals

Are you thinking…
I have experienced no progress and/ or change. This is BS! I am still dancing with the same people, in the same places, doing the same moves!“..?

If this is YOU. You should be glad this article is not over yet! haha

So, though we are used to thinking progress as a straight line, try to replace that image with the one of a spiral

spiral progress
Photo credit: / CC0
As you working your way up to your ultimate goal, you get passed different high points.
You reach a high point, then you start your trip up a steep hill again, until you reach a new high, and so on so forth.
This trip can be very long for some, almost lifetime long– for professional dancers for example– or shorter. But no matter the length it is always a spiral, never a straight line.

So if you are the desperate person, mumbling the quote above, you are probably just starting that uphill trip again and you have to work harder or in a different way to reach a new high.

This is a quick way to find out what you need to change NOW and in which way.

It is called the “Hotshot Rule”.
It wasn’t invented by me but from Kat Cole when she was president of Cinnabon.
This is what she did:
She would spend sometime to think about the state and goals of the company and then she would ask herself:
Let’s say a hotshot takes over my job today. What two or three things would the hotshot look at and say, ‘That’s unacceptable’?
(Find the full article here: Kat Cole’s Hotshot Rule)

So back to you and Tango
Take some time to think of where you are, what your teachers or partners have been advising you on. What are your goals and aspirations?
Then ask yourselves: If a Tango hotshot, took my spot tomorrow what are the two/ three things he/she would face and say: That’s unacceptable?

My personal example

Ok guys, here it goes…Confessions of a Tangoholic…!
My list of  three unacceptable things in my present Tango life

  1. Treatment for my shoulder, that has been bugging me for a year now, maybe longer. No I haven’t been to the doctor. Yes it giving me great trouble.
    So this is now number 1 on my unacceptable list. Especially because my income depends on the well- being of my body.
  2. Go out more often. I used to be able to go to milongas twice a week. I haven’t been out though for some time now. For different reasons some valid and some not.
    So a Tango hotshot would say this is unacceptable.
  3. Change my practice routine. I have been practicing on similar things 2hours a day, 5 days a week, for a year almost. There has been significant change BUT it is time for a new challenge.

What does your list look like? Leave me a comment below.

Bottom Line…

With the hotshot rule, you can find the two/ three most important things, you have been ignoring for whatever reason, and this in itself will reveal to you what you need to do next.
Maybe you haven’t taken a class for a long time. Or you have been meaning to plan a private class for sometime now but hadn’t gotten around to it.
Maybe you are not going out enough or maybe you subscribe to bautanz, got the practice guide but haven’t gotten past the first page yet…haha

Try not to get too comfortable. Look for the challenge. Test your progress and this will help you define the next step you need to take!

P.S: The greatest thing about the article on the Hotshot Rule is that you can use it in different parts of your life. Business, Tango, relationships, anything really. But you need to be honest and you know see it more like a game than a test…


Are your partners enjoying the dances you share? How can you tell?

Last week we looked at how small details may reveal to you the ideal dance partners. Poor attention to detail may cost you a great dance experience. Transforming to Sherlock Holmes might not be an easy task, it is well wroth it though!

So this week we will dive into deeper waters. We will put our Sherlock Holmes hat on to figure out if our partners are having a good time during our dances.

How do your partners feel about your dances?

Can you answer the above question with certainty?
Leave your comments below!

I can just see you, in front of your computer, starting off with:
Yes, of course I can…to
Well maybe…
Not really, not for all my partners… half smile

The truth, for most of us, is that we have absolutely NO idea, how the other person is feeling during our dance. How do I know?
First of all because, I have been there and second of all because far too many people say:

I need to know if my partner is enjoying our danceD.
“In the end she just gave me a ‘Thank you’, but it was my best try” P.
“I am feeling like he doesn’t care” M.
“For him I am just there, to do steps, he just doesn’t get it…” N.

You see that? All of these people above, are dissatisfied with their partners, not because they are not doing fancy steps, not because they are not musical, BUT because they feel ignored during their dances.

Why are your partners feeling this way and you don’t get it?

Are you thinking of the different dances you had during the weekend, wondering how your partners felt?
I hope you are!

The truth is, you won’t know because your partner will probably never say anything to you and because IT IS NOT HAPPENING TO YOU!

You are not the one feeling ignored, feeling dismissed, feeling rejected during the dance.
Why is the person feeling this way?
Because they are actually ignored, dismissed and rejected!

If you are thinking: What? I never ignore people! I am super nice, and supportive! Dancing with almost everyone in the milonga, what else am I supposed to do?

STOP! Don’t get defensive here, and hear me out.

Nobody is saying you are doing this on purpose.
I am definitely not saying that you are a bad person, a devilish evil person, thinking of cunning ways to hurt people!
I am saying that, you are so caught up thinking of a technically flawless walk, of the perfect syncopation, of the majestic ocho lead/ follow, of the super-duper embellishment, that you are completely forgetting your partner.
And maybe sometimes, just sometimes, we might be thinking that we have gotten so unbelievably good, that there is no way our partners are not enjoying our dances. NO WAY! (Think again..!)

How do you know if your partners just can’t wait to start dancing with you?

So, it is the beginning of tanda, you are up on the dancefloor, with your partner, and you are ready to start dancing, so you get into the embrace and…STOP! Rewind!

Go back to the point, where you are getting ready to embrace. What is your partner doing?

There is a subtle difference between:
ATttttentiON. POstUre. HUG. DAnce.
Taking a breath, relaxing while aligning the body in the tango posture, reaching for your embrace, and connected you start dancing.

You can see the difference I hope!
So is your partner following a structured, almost military, way to get into the embrace..?
It might be because they are still working on that. Maybe, it is their first dance with you and they feeling a bit awkward. Or, that is just their style…Or they might not really want to dance with you…

Second thing to notice here, are you the first one to offer the embrace or are they reaching in towards you at the same time?
If you are a leader, this might mean nothing more, than that you are the leader so you should initiate…still though, if your follower reaches  in at the same time, that should give your confidence a bit of a boost.
Again, it might be a matter of confidence, awkwardness, style, or they are not really happy dancing with you.

So best way to know, is watch their body language. Do they subtly  externalize the process of getting into their posture, making that part of YOUR dance together? Are your partners already dancing with you, before you even get to embrace? Are you?

How do you know your partners are having fun in your embrace?

Now we are passed the awkward phase of getting into the embrace, and we are finally touching.
THIS is the moment of truth. How do they react?

Have you ever been for a massage that was just heavenly good? If so, think about it, I am sure you knew it was going to be great from the very first touch.
If not…GO GET ONE! You are missing out! haha

Same thing here. When you touch, when you finally get into the embrace, how is their body reacting to it? Are they internalizing the touch or are they just standing there like a Tango- wall?

You know, our bodies are very clever. Our skin is not just a boundary. In its middle layer, we find numerous nerve endings. The skin and the nervous system are strongly connected in this way. That affects our perceptions and feelings about the world and others around us. As toddlers, we learn to identify ourselves, through identifying the outside world– the non-self–and that happens primarily through touch, through the skin.
But also during our everyday life as adults, “(…) the environment touches our skin, and its qualities are transformed into messages that we interpret as heat, cold, pleasure, pain, comfort, pressure etc. We can respond to these message through reflex, instinct, or choice.” (…) “We can never touch one thing, we always touch two at the same instant, the object and ourselves”. (wisdom of the body moving- An introduction to body-mind centering)

The question therefore here is, do your partners react to your touch? To they choose to unite with you or to separate from you?

What if I am not sure how to do that?

Well, that is expected. Most of us in our everyday lives, we choose separation to unison.
We use and support the idea of our skin working as an armor, as it is continually sensing the environment.

Don’t get me wrong here. I don’t mean to say, you need to go out and rediscover the world, like:
Oh! It is -10 with a breeze…mmmm…I feel cold.
Yes obviously! Now put some gloves on! haha

What I am suggesting is,that you see touch as a shadow of movement and movement as the shadow of touch.
Or maybe better said by Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen: Touch is the other side of movement. Movement is the other side of touch. They are the shadow of each other”

So the best and only way to start understanding how your partners are reacting, while you are dancing, is to start reacting to their touch and to their movement.
I think the best spots to start are, the hands and torso.
You can simply place, your hand into your partner’s hand, establishing the boundary. Or AFTER you touch, you start creating the curling movement of your fingers around your partner’s hand, in response to that first touch.
The torso can be more interesting, as you can fully internalize, the touch, to the bone structure, the lungs, the heart and the diaphragm, allowing your embrace to change.

You can practice this with and without a partner

Of course you can start using your skin, and the sensations you get through the skin, in your next milonga/ practica, during your dances with different partners.

Or if you manage to stop yourselves from feeling like a weirdo, you can practice, your hand hold, on objects. Creating the touch and then curling movement of the fingers. Reading through the touch of your finger tips and responding to that, and so on and so forth.
Consider also how the edge of the table is, different from a bottle. Or a small water bottle is different from the 1.5L of Coca Cola.
For the torso connection, you can practice lying down on the floor, or against a wall, internalizing and creating movement based on the pressure and/ or the weight. Reading through the expansion/ closure of the torso, the expansion/ suffocation in the lungs, expansion/ closure of the frame etc, and responding anew to that.

Bottom line…

The better you get to know yourself, the more in tune you are going to be with your partners.
You will be able to feel, how the pressure in the hand and the torso, after being internalized by your partner’s body, creates movement. And vice versa, how does that whole movement actually feel in your hands?

Such subtle observations are hard to be made if they are only external. You need to understand the other person through touch, through yourself, and therefore understand yourselves too.
Try it out and send me your questions and thoughts


P.S: Watch it! NO exaggerations…like breathing in people’s ears, squeezing them in your embrace or rubbing their hand, pressing in, pushing towards…ts ts ts

If Sherlock Holmes danced Tango…

sherlock holmes in Tango

So Tango dancers, can you answer this question in detail: What do you need to see in a dancer, that will make you choose them for your next tanda, as leader or follower?

This is how we usually answer this question:

  • I have no idea, I just try to dance with at least one different person in every milonga
  • Someone who will be a good match in terms of level, musicality etc
  • I look for a partner who will allow me to connect and express myself
  • Someone responding well to other partners with a comparable level/ experience/ skill to mine

What do you notice?
This is what I notice:

  1. All these answers are NOT detailed at all. On the contrary they are very general, except for the first one of course…haha…what does a “good match” or “responding well” mean?
  2. They are about YOU! By you, from you, for you, about YOU! NOT about the other person…
Attention to detail…another skill you should be building on

Do you ever find yourselves thinking or saying any of the following phrases:

  • She will say NO to ME, but she now dances with this______(beginner, old dude, dude-who-can’t-take-his-feet etc…fill in the gap)
  • He never asks me to dance and yet he dances with this______( beginner, old lady, short/tall/big/petite woman, someone-who-can’t-even-pivot etc…fill in the gap)
  • I don’t understand how women choose
  • Men! What do you expect? They only choose based on looks.

I am sorry to tell you but you are obviously missing something here!
Poor attention to detail, is what makes you fail in choosing the right partner for you, is what keeps you away for having a much better time in the milonga.

How would Sherlock Holmes choose a Tango partner

Sherlock Holmes was known not only for his cleverness and wit… but mostly for his a ability to pay great attention to detail. He could see and perceive things, other people would simply ignore..!

Important things you might be ignoring:

  1. Smiling
    Many people notice whether dancers are smiling during their dances, and that is very important in itself. BUT I am referring to whether they are smiling after the tanda.
    The tanda ends, they thank each other and they turn to walk away, THAT is the moment of TRUTH. Are they smiling?
    If they are, they most probably enjoyed the dance.
    If they sit at their table and they are still smiling they had an awesome time.
  2. At the end of a song
    What happens when the song ends?
    Almost all couples hold the pose in the end. They just stay in the embrace for a few more seconds because they can hear their Tango teacher saying: “HOLD IT!”. Then they joyful move away from each other, happy the got the pose at the end.
    BUT there are also some couples who are holding the pose because they are still in a trance. The song ends but they need some time to come back to the real world. They are just THERE, allowing themselves to BE in each others arms, defining a pure soulful connection, where individuality is almost lost behind the strong unity that emerges. Not only they had an awesome dance, BUT also they are not afraid to reach out to one another, to discover each other and to create something together.
  3. In between songs
    Are they making any attempt to connect. Obvious signs of them being an enjoyable person to dance with: smiling, chatting.
    Not so obvious signs:
    –staying relatively close to their partner–showing they are comfortable
    –if they are chatting and the next song starts, they wrap- up their conversation with ease and they start dancing a few seconds into the song– shows confidence
    –talking to other couples on the floor– showing that they are there to socialize as well, understanding this is a party.
    Instead of looking away, looking at the floor, fixing their dress, starting to dance immediately as the song starts–No-chit-chat-lets-get-to-business type of attitude
  4. Are they listening to each other
    In moments of “crisis”, how are they reacting as a couple?
    Lets see some possible scenarios here.
    For example:
    Say the leader following the beat, is going too fast for the follower, does the follower attempt to slow things down, using  technique/ embrace/ embellishments etc or just throws all responsibility on the leader?
    And if there is a suggestion for a the change of speed, how does the leader respond?
    Another example:
    Does the leader allow embellishments to the follower, or is there a constant need to control every second of the dance? Is the follower capable of finding the right moment to embellish or is there a need for a lead?
    How do they react to tension created in the body, do they use the embrace to help one another relax, or do they fight their way through the dance and then complain?
    Or, when something doesn’t work, do they just repeat it in the exact same way, or during their next attempt, do they listen more to the signals their partner is giving them–getting off balance, tensing up, struggling etc?
    Lastly, do they protect their partner from a collision, regardless of them being a leader or a follower?
  5. How they treat other couples on the dancefloor
    Aside from the obvious–avoiding collisions, not creating traffic, allowing the other couples some space, not picking up fights, apologizing if something happens etc–you want to check how they interact with the other couples.
    There is a difference, between sharing a dancefloor, where every couple occupies a spot, and dancing together.
    It is beautiful when couples are dancing together, feeding off each other in terms of sequencing, reacting to each others choices in musicality, spacing and shaping, maybe even teasing each other in the same way couples would do in a party.
  6. Dance connection
    Do they dance differently on different music, with different people?
    I am not simply referring to the different sequences one does on different music, I am talking about the energy that they put into the different dances acknowledging the difference in the music pieces. And also allowing themselves to know their partner in  Tango terms.
    Do they take advantage of an explosive movement their partner created even when they are more about short and sweet?
    Do they read their partner’s embellishments as opportunities, as suggestions or are they just embellishments to them?
    How do they react to their partner’s small mistakes, do they see them as a surprise that they can turn into a new step or as something they need to fix?
    Does their embrace look like an armor they put on before they start dancing, or is it something flexible, adjustable, personal but also responsive to their partner’s hold?
  7. A visceral dance
    Lastly, do they have moments when they JUST dance? Moments, when they Tango, like young children dance/ move/ act/ play– with no standards, no expectations, no goals or strategies, free from any limitations, boundaries and rules? Creating a visceral dance, from within, because they just can’t help it, they NEED to move?
    It might not be a dance that is technically perfect , musically accurate and with interesting intriguing sequences BUT it is a dance revealing the human need to connect, move and create something beautiful.
It is all in the details…

So if you want to choose more suitable partners and if you want to be chosen by more suitable partners, you need to pay attention to the details.
Express yourself more during your dances, the milonga is not a class, no one is judging you.
Listen to your partner and share responsibility.
Take a chance to interact with other couples.
Connect with your partner between dances.
Fall in your partner’s arms.
Feel the milonga is a party, not a practice session.
Allow yourself to be a child again.
Smile more…
Look for the people who do some or better yet all of the above. They might not be the BEST–technically–Tango dancers in the world, but they surely know how to have fun.


P.S: Men and women were not made to understand each other. What fun would that be? They were made to discover each other!
The game is on!

Photo credit: Mr Wabu via / CC BY-SA


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:


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