Though a milonga can be the highlight of your tango social life, it can also be a frustrating experience if you don't get the dances you are expecting. However, you're bound to enjoy a milonga—and probably get more dances--if you approach it in the right spirit.
- Eat and rest before a milonga. A night of dancing is a strenuous activity, and you will enjoy it most if you are fully rested and are not hungry.
- Wear comfortable clothes and shoes, and dress appropriately for tango. You should be able to move freely, and your clothes should put you in a tango frame of mind--whatever that means to you.
- Approach a milonga as a social event. Try to catch up on news with your friends and you'll have an enjoyable evening even if you don't dance as much as you had hoped.
- Get a table near the band but away from the speakers. If the milonga you're attending has a live tango band, you will find the band as entertaining to watch as the dancing. Even if you are not a dancer, you can enjoy a milonga if you have a good view of both the floor and the musicians—as long as you aren't right in front of the speakers.
- Ask at least one beginner to dance. It's good for your tango community, and you might just make the beginner's evening.
- Follow milonga etiquette. Stay in the line of dance, and do not stop on the dance floor—even to execute a fabulous new sequence you just mastered. Save high boleos and excessive gauchos for an uncrowded floor. And never teach on the dance floor.
- Dance the final tango with your significant other if she has come to the milonga with you. This closes the evening well for the both of you. Be aware that even if you don't have a significant other, the partner you find yourself with in the last tanda may have one; ask her if she would like to dance the last dance with you rather than assuming she will.
Pablo Rodriguez and Noelia Hurtado
Horacio Godoy & Cecilia Garcia milonga
Oliver Kolker and Luna Palacios
A milonga can attract dancers from all segments of the tango community, gathering dancers who may not otherwise meet each other. Though it takes preparation, a milonga is not difficult to organize.
- Find and reserve the location. Check local dance centers and community centers for availability. Coffee shops, bars or restaurants also make good milonga locations—and sometimes won't charge you to use the space. Make sure dancers can pivot on the floor, and test the sound system and quality before you reserve the location.
- Decide what kind of music you want at your milonga. You can focus on traditional tango or even alternative tango. Traditional tango music generally appeals to an older crowd, while alternative tango brings in younger dancers.
- Locate a disc jockey. If you don't know a DJ, talk to local tango dancers and instructors about DJs they know. Make sure your DJ has the type of music you want at your milonga, and let her know what sound equipment is available at the venue.
- Consider preceding your milonga with a tango lesson. An introductory tango lesson can attract people to your milonga who do not yet dance tango. This is a good idea if you are trying to increase the size of your tango community.
- Determine admission cost. Aim to make at least as much money as you invest in the milonga. Add the prices for the location, DJ and tango teacher and then divide by the minimum number of people you expect.
- Publicize your milonga. Put up flyers around the community. Contact local radio stations that play world music to see if they can announce your milonga on-air. Local papers may also have a section where you can list an event for free or for a nominal fee.
- Gather volunteers to take money from attendees, to help set up and to help clear up after the milonga.
- Prepare the space. Ambient lighting, candles and tables where dancers can sit will add to the atmosphere of the milonga. Clean the floor to ensure a safe dance surface. If your milonga is held outdoors on flagstone or concrete, sprinkle a small amount of talcum powder on the floor throughout the evening.
Illustration from Clyde Mendes column at Salsa TV, Singapore