Registango - Tango Etiquette (Los Códigos)

These are universal expectations for Argentine Tango social dancing in the milonga. The Etiquette (Los Códigos) are suggested to encourage an enjoyable social atmosphere for dancing. We hope you find these tips useful  when attending a Milonga, and a great help in enjoying your dance. 

THE ART OF CABECEO & MIRANDA - Asking for and accepting an invitation for a dance.

Cabeceo (nod of the head) is traditionally how one invites and acknowledges a partner for a dance in the traditional milongas of Buenos Aires. It's an alternative to a verbal request for a dance and involves maintaining eye contact to request a dance.

Generally speaking, the convention is to accept an invitation to dance. BUT we do not have a right to dance with anybody, so it is important not to abuse the goodwill of dancers by asking people irresponsibly or thoughtlessly.

The asker makes eye contact and uses the eyebrows and/or makes a subtle head nod toward the dance floor. The responder answers "yes" by smiling and nodding back, or "no" by refusing further eye contact. This takes place at some distance and avoids the embarrassment of the asker walking over and risking being turned down.

In the UK it is accepted that the follower and leader may walk up and ask, although this will depend on the Milonga, some adhere much more to the stricter etiquette found in Argentina.  It is advisable to observe what goes on at the Milonga you are attending so that you follow the etiquette of that Milonga.  Do not ask or approach a potential partner until they have left the dance floor after a Tanda.   The interim gap between Tanda's, is called a 'cortina'. After the cortina is the time to engage with a potential partner for the next tanda.

Follow this link to see Mirada-cabeceo in action


Both leaders and followers have the right to refuse a dance with anyone, at any time. The best way is to say "No thank you" with a smile. However, if you are hoping to dance with this partner at another time, be sure to say so. To soften a refusal, a courteous excuse is good - "I am resting/would rather not dance to this music/want to finish this conversation" It is however very important that you keep to your word. Having refused a dance, never then accept another invitation to dance less than a minute later, you probably won't get asked again.


It is normal to dance a Tanda of three, sometimes four dances with the same partner, but this is not obligatory. If you are uncomfortable with your partner's dancing or some behaviour which you deem to be unacceptable then it is OK to stop after 2 songs. It may be appropriate to leave after 1 song, or in the middle of a song in exceptional circumstances.It is not advisable to say "thank you" to your partner after every dance. Although this seems normal politeness, your partner may walk away. In Tango to say "thank you" to your dance partner is a coded way of saying I want to stop dancing, and can be taken as an insult. Use other polite phrases of appreciation if you want to keep dancing.

LA RONDA - Line of dance: Entering the dance floor

Line of dance refers to the etiquette of dancing in the line of dance by moving counter clockwise around the dance floor, and using concentric lanes in the traffic to enable dancing in close proximity with one another.

Once on the floor avoid backward steps as there is a risk of treading on someone. Avoid steps and movements on a crowded floor that could cause collisions, hit or injure other dancers - very fast Giros, High Boleos, Ganchos etc.

Leaders: be aware of the dancers around you and use only the space that is safely available. It is your fault not the followers if she hits or kicks someone.
Followers: Dance only what the leader invites or allows. Irrespective of the lead, If you consider the lead or invite to be unsafe,YOU HAVE THE FINAL SAY. Avoid the uses of expansive and long drawn out adornments.

If you bump into another couple, be polite, apologize - even if you do not think it was your fault!


Couples dance round the floor in an anti-clockwise direction. It may be necessary on a crowded dancefloor to form a second Ronda, each moving in parallel, and not encroaching on the other. If you are in the outside lane, try to stay in that lane, do not drift to the inside lane and vice versa, unless there is a good reason to change eg: if you need to overtake a very slow couple. Never overtake on the outside of the lane, this is the leaders blind side.

To avoid inadvertently drifting into the middle, it is suggested that leaders dance at an outward facing angle, almost diagonal, to the line of dance. This improves visibility and reduces the risk of drifting inwards.

If you are not dancing, please avoid standing or talking where you will inhibit the flow of the dancers. Don't move chairs where they will be in the way. Avoid walking across the dance floor, always walk round the edge, and if necessary stop to allow dancers to pass. There may be a corridor behind the tables and chairs to use.


To dance well requires your full attention, so avoid having a conversation whilst dancing; focus on your dance, be attentive to your partner and floor traffic. Conversation can take place at the beginning of a Tanda (see above), and at the end, never during the Tanda. Never criticise your partner whilst dancing or give a well intentioned feedback, and a milonga is not for the follower or leader to teach, you are there to enjoy the dance.

Happy dancing


For more info about Tango Etiquette (Los Códigos)
Telephone Frank on 07808 594005