Ask Arlene…About Partners and Tango

Hi Arlene,

I have been in trouble recently for enjoying Tango (a bit too much) when my girlfriend was watching – I have even seen her get up and leave the Milonga. I too have felt upset and jealous seeing my girlfriend in Tango bliss with another man – particularly if he looks Argentinin or Mediterranean…I know dark men are her weakness. Despite me being a much better dancer, she really is much more attractive than I am and gets a lot of attention. I feel I am being stupid bringing her out, so I am being put off Tango at the moment. I suspect that many couples may quit Tango for the sake of not wanting to upset a partner. I was wondering how you think I should deal with this problem.


Dear Chakarera,

I am always confounded by issues of this nature as I am single and have never really have had to deal with this before.  Besides, your current partner isn’t necessarily your best dance partner.  So what to do?  I really don’t know.

The one time I very briefly dated a Tango man, we would arrive at the Milonga together, dance a tanda, and then we would go our merry way to dance with others and meet up now and then to dance together.  I am not a woman to change my dancing habits just because there is a man in the picture.  I am also not a jealous or insecure person.  I would want my partner to have a good time, and as long as he starts and ends the Milonga with me I would be happy for him to dance with whomever he chooses throughout the evening.

I know married couples who follow the same premise.  They dance with each other and they also dance with others.  What is important is who you go home with at the end of the evening.

It is my understanding that in Buenos Aires if a woman dances more than one tanda in a row with the same man it generally means that something more than Tango is going on.  That could also be happening over here, but I doubt it happens that often.  There are not enough good dancers to go around, so I believe that people dance with the same people often for the comfort factor and the guarantee of getting in some good dances with people they fit with.

I used to dance regularly with a lovely Italian man named Paulo.  We just fit and danced really well together.  People used to think there was something going on between us.  They were right, but it was only happening on the dance floor.  We never even had each other’s telephone number, so when after a few months of Tango bliss he stopped coming to the Milongas, I was at a loss to find out what had happened to him.  He may have moved or gone back to Italy, which was something he had talked about might happen.  My Tango hasn’t been the same since he left and I really miss him.

I have a friend that has dated a few Tango women.  With one of them, they came up with the four dance rule.  Basically, you did not have more than four dances in a row with the same person, in effect a tanda.  She was a better dancer than him.  I am not sure why this rule was put into place or which person had an issue.  I didn’t get it.

I think that if people are secure in themselves and in their personal relationships, there really shouldn’t be any issues about who they dance with.  If you care about your partner, you would want them to enjoy themselves.  I personally think that the problem is not with the Tango, but with the both of you.

Have you ever considered counselling?

6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. irenicon
    Apr 06, 2009 @ 12:42:06

    One of my sons has a girlfriend – he is a great dancer and I asked him why we don’t see him/her/them out on the dance floor in any form, tango or otherwise. He said neither she nor he could handle feeling jealous when they danced with other people.
    To me it was a measure of their insecurity in their relationship rather than something inherent in dancing, human nature or the world. I am hoping it wears off – is this a young people/new relationship thing perhaps?

  2. Tango totty
    Apr 06, 2009 @ 13:57:30

    You might have cause for concern if your girlfriend danced with the same woman all night, just as you might have concern if she spent too long chatting to an attractive man standing at the bar! However tango is meant to be a social dance where you dance with lots of other people on a social level. If youre so insecure and possessive that you cant see your girlfriend dance with another man neither of you should be dancing tango!

  3. Tango totty
    Apr 06, 2009 @ 13:58:13

    Sorry I meant if she danced with the same man all night! Now get real.

  4. Mr Walker
    Apr 06, 2009 @ 15:12:14

    I’m always out dancing at milonga’s with my partner and we have the first dance then we go off and dance with other people..And if i see her enjoying a really nice dance with someone it’s very nice to see.And it doe’snt bother me the least..It’s not because i don’t care…i do care and thats why it doesn’t bother me. I care that she is having a good time…and lets be honest as a follower how hard is it to find a leader who dances with you at a milonga and how many nice/wonderful/musical/connections/lets add even in time to the music dances do you get a night?…..This doesn’t include you Arlene cos you watch and check out leaders before you accept a offer to dance (i wish more women did this).i hope this was a little bit of a fun thing started because if you do feel this way tango is the wrong hobby….maybe you and your partner should talk more dance less….

  5. Johanna
    Apr 06, 2009 @ 16:18:43

    Tango is transformational. It changes who we are by presenting our insides to our outside. It has brought people together, and torn them apart. If you cannot build a partnership of trust and joy in tango with your loved one, then you are either not right for tango or not right for each other.

  6. Fatty Arbuckle
    Apr 06, 2009 @ 22:28:00


    I think I may have danced with your girlfriend. If you’re the chap I think, I would agree that she is much better looking than you. I think you would be more worried if I thought the opposite. Don’t fret though, she was strangely uninterested in me. I even offered her a selection of fine chocolates. She was impervious to my chocolatey charms. You have nothing to worry about. Does she like empanadas?


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