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?