Ask Arlene…Fear of the Milongas

Hello All,

Please note that I have quite a few saved comments for Ask Arlene that I am trying to work my way through.  I will be answering them, slowly but surely, as there are some interesting topics to cover.  Life is a bit busy right now so please bear with me.  I will get to everyone as soon as I can.

From: Tango neophyte

Dear Arlene,

I’ve been learning Tango for about a year now, but have not been brave enough to attend any Milongas until recently when I attended Tango Al Fresco in Regent’s park, unfortunately I was never asked to dance! Whereas it was lovely to watch people dance it would have been nice if I’d had one dance.
Can you offer any advice as to how to get over my fear of attending Milonga on my own and not been asked to dance?

Dear TN,

I find it very interesting and strange that you have not attended any Milongas in the year you have had lessons.  I am really surprised that your instructor did not encourage you, nor suggest any venues for you to attend.  (The Crypt is a pretty friendly place and so is The Wine Bar.)

Frankly, it does not surprise me to learn that you were not asked to dance at Tango Al Fresco.  Most people that go there tend to go in groups and dance with their friends, or if alone, dance with people that they know because they met them in the other Milongas.  The rest are usually onlookers.  Outdoor Milongas are not necessarily the best places to start dancing.

I have written about getting dances on many posts on my blog.  It might be useful for you to read some of them.

I always go to Milongas alone.  If I waited for anyone to do anything, I would be sitting on my butt at home alone.  You just have to do it.  I didn’t dance much in the beginning.  It takes time to get to know people.  You need to put yourself out there and be sociable.  Make friends with women.  They are THE most sane people at a Milonga.  Go to classes before the Milongas to meet people.  It is called networking.  Smile.  A lot.  I did the same thing when I first started to learn Salsa (which I learned before Tango) and Ceroc.

There is nothing to fear but fear itself.  The fact is, you already went out of your comfort zone and went to an outdoor Milonga, good for you.  Now that you have experienced that, it will get easier each time you go out.  Oh, and don’t have any expectations, then you won’t get disappointed.  You can’t expect people to dance with you if they don’t know you or haven’t seen you dance or if you don’t put yourself out a little bit.

But be careful what you ask for.  Try and be a little bit selective.  Look at the dance floor and see what you like or don’t like about someone’s dancing.  Tango isn’t always about dancing.  It is about the music and enjoying yourself.  Before you know it you will be dancing.  Sometimes it will be good, it will be great, it will be average and it will be bad.  Give it some time and you will be complaining with the rest of them about there not being any good dancers to dance with. 😉

So you better get out there.  There is another Tango al Fresco coming up soon!

5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. severnyproductions
    Jul 31, 2009 @ 01:25:45

    tango , a very passionate dance. i love watcing dance but i cant be bothered to actually get up and do it lol. hats off to you.

  2. El Chupacabra
    Aug 02, 2009 @ 01:48:29

    There is a fear of milongas. Especially for beginners but also for experienced dancers.

    Will I be good enough? What if I make a fool of myself. Everyone will be watching – and they do watch. What if I get asked by someone too good for me? What if a monster won’t leave me alone?

    What if I go and no one speaks to me? What if everyone is unfriendly? What if I’m not in a clique?

    What if they play strange music? What if they all speak no English? What if I wear the wrong clothes?

    What if I haven’t learnt the right moves? What if they just dance a different kind of tango?

    Sadly, sometimes the fear is justified because behaviour at milongas does leave something to be desired.

    And I know of so many people who went once, twice and never again because of a lack of hospitality, competitiveness, cliques, bad manners, …

  3. Adelaide Vroshevski
    Aug 06, 2009 @ 23:25:35

    I went to a milonga once, and no one asked me to dance. That didn’t bother me at all. To be honest I was really scared i wouldn’t be good enough. Then after some time, I went again. And this time there were a lot of people who asked me to dance. Some people didn’t seem to enjoy it, and i felt a bit guilty about it. Others said i was extremely good for a ‘beginner’, and asked me to dance again after some time.

    I think it’s just a matter of time. With time we will improve, and also will get to meet more people. I am not afraid of the milongas anymore, but the reason why i stopped going is because I feel like i need some more time to be ready and really enjoy it.

  4. yabotil
    Aug 08, 2009 @ 15:44:40

    For most people, the goal of going to lessons is so that they can enjoy themselves at a milonga. I’ve danced with plenty of women who took lessons for less than one year and mainly go to milongas. Their technique may not be superb but they’re having fun. I’d much prefer to dance with someone who’s having fun and enjoying the music than someone’s who’s worrying about everything.

    Sometimes milongas can be a bit nasty but if you meet some people there that’ll help. Its not easy at first and it can be hard work but after a while – its worth it.

  5. Sophie
    Aug 11, 2009 @ 13:17:52

    95% of women you see swirled off their feet on the dance floor started by playing wallflowers. the 5% who didn’t were under 30 and model-gorgeous. It’s not about dancing skills, it’s about making your place on the scene. So be patient. It gets lonely and boring playing wallflower so when you hit that spot just go home. Otherwise, enjoy the night, the dancing, the music. Chat if you can or just have a ball on your own. People who are enjoying themselves are attractive, whereas women who are on a mission to clock floor miles and are annoyed at not getting any are seriously repulsive. The milongas need to be wooed like a virgin, not rammed into as if you were a viking. Another way is to get people from your class to go out as a group, one evening. Of course get men and women! I’m sure most of them are intimidated by milongas and will welcome your lead. Some organisers will even be happy to reserve your group a table so you can all sit together and gather courage more comfortably. Best of luck!

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