Congratulations! After years of hard work, you are now mastering this dance!
You can make girls feel really good and happy. Girls are starting to look for you, snuggle you, hang around you.
This feels great!
You’re a nice guy; you are not planning to use your newfound advantage to become a womanizer, but you are enjoying the attention.
But you also feel that the women who hang around you are confused. You want to be friendly, you don’t want to hurt them, and you don’t feel responsible for their expectations. What should you do?
Here’s a rough guide to managing your tanguera friends’ emotions in a kind, gentlemanly way, while still enjoying sensual dances.
Keep in mind that you want to manage this not only to avoid personal dramas, but also so that girls don’t experience unnecessary heartbreaks, which could make tango a landscape of pain for them and discourage them from dancing.
Step One: Awareness
Understand that the following actions will cause a woman to believe that she is special to you, that you have a crush on her, and she will expect you to proceed along a romantic path:
- You dance 5 or more tandas (45-60… minutes) with her without a break.
- You dance 3 times with her in one evening.
- You stand or sit with her between tandas and you allow your arms or legs to touch.
When a girl thinks she is “special” to you, she will then be hurt if you do not treat her in the same way at the next milonga. She will feel that she must have done something wrong, or that she is fundamentally “less” than other girls, because you have lost interest in her.
If you do treat her the same way at 3 or 4 sequential milongas, she will then believe that she is on the verge of being your girlfriend. She will be waiting impatiently for you to ask her on a non-tango date.
Step Two: De-escalating Actions
To avoid nurturing romantic hopes (and causing pain) in women, stick to the following guidelines:
The best method is to be fairly formal about length of time dancing and proper use of the cortinas. Dance two tandas at the most, giving her your undivided attention as sensually as you want to, and part cleanly afterward. The parting should be sweet (fingers lingering to the last moment is sweet) but firm and complete. Once you part, you do not look back at her. Allow her to observe that you have other interests of equal intensity. Show her that no matter how great that experience was, she is not the only one. This will protect her from disappointment.
Be as snuggly as you want while dancing, and even stay in the embrace between songs of the tanda, but avoid any kind of sweet touch off the dance floor or between tandas. This kind of touch is a signal that for you there is MORE than dancing. She will believe you, unless she observes you doing this with lots of girls, in which case she (and every other observant girl) will conclude you are a seducer. If she is touching you off the dance floor, gently move away and then avoid proximity where she can do that again. (This is possessive touch and you should only allow it to happen if you consent to her ownership of you and want everyone in the room to think you are a couple.)
Avoid building non-tango relations in a way which suggests a girl to think you are moving in a romantic relation. It’s fine to buy a girl a drink, walk them to the train, give them a ride home, plan to meet at another milonga ONCE, or ONCE a month, but if you do stuff like this several times in a single week, or every time you see each other, she will think you are going to be her boyfriend.
If there is only one girl you want to dance with on a particular night, and you dance with her for an extended period or multiple times in one evening, but you do not have romantic interests, contextualize your excess by preemptively discouraging her feelings before they grow. What you want to do is keep your new friend realistic about the situation, without putting her below someone else. DON’T say something that implies she is in any way LESS than someone else in the room (“I’m so in love with that girl over there. She’s really hot.” or “If I had the courage I’d dance with Ms. Y.”) DO say “Thanks for practicing with me so much tonight, none of my usual dance partners are here.” Or “That was great, I really like to dance a lot with one person in a milonga, it helps me train and improve. I usually choose one person each night.” Also in this situation be very careful not to do non-tango romantic stuff, like touch between tandas or walking her to the train.
If you are falling in love with someone and you want to nurture romantic feelings
Do all of this stuff (dancing for long stretches, dancing repeatedly, non-tango romantic gestures…) and make sure you only do it with her and that she knows you only do it with her. Make it clear to her that there is no one else in the milonga who is interesting to you. Send her messages on the days you don’t see her with subtle (but honest!) clues that you were not having any such fun with other girls at other milongas. For example “it was nice, but there was no one I wanted to dance with for more than one tanda” or “yeah, I had good dances but it was lonely because there was no one I wanted to talk to.” There’s never a need to put anyone down, but you can make it clear that she is special to you, if she really is.
If you enter a romantic relationship with a tanguera, keep in mind that tango makes you both more than ordinarily vulnerable to insecurity. The codigos are your best friend in keeping everybody calm and feeling good. (See the advanced version, including special advice on the last tanda.)
- Dance the first and last tandas with your girlfriend. If you don’t realize it’s last tanda, and you hear the cumparsita, get to her.
- Dance 3-4 tandas with her somewhere in the middle of the night. Show her and everyone that she’s your favorite dancer.
- Don’t dance more than 2 tandas with anyone else. No matter how amazing Ms.X is, she’s not worth hurting your girlfriend.
- Let go of other partners reasonably quickly between songs. Don’t linger or leave a hand on them.
- Don’t say superlative things about any other woman’s dance. Just keep it to yourself.
- Don’t leave your girlfriend alone for a long time and then tell her you were “giving her a chance to dance with other guys”. She knows exactly who you were obsessed with tonight.
- It’s not necessary to make out on the dance floor, but stay in touch with eyes, discreet kisses, and squeezes of the hand. Make sure she feels you want everyone to know how thrilled you are to be with her.
- Attentive gentlemanly behavior like carrying her bag, bringing drinks, or handing her her glass after the tanda are gold in keeping you in her grace.
About the cumparsita
The cumparsita is sacred for a reason: You don’t just come back to each other. You let go of others. You choose each other in the very face of temptation. You bring yourself back to your chosen relationship, away from spontaneous fantasies of flirtation. Fellow dancers should always encourage their friends back to their partners at this moment. You don’t just go home together. First you give each other the best of what you have been giving to other people.