Follower's Guide to Festivals/Milongas
I wish someone had told me what to wear, say, do, expect, etc. . . .

Tango Fashion Tips
Conversation Tips
Foot Care Tips
What To Bring To Festivals
Humorous Tips

Tango Fashion Tips:

What should I wear to the workshops/practicas?

Go for comfort. Think loose knits and relaxed, breathable fabrics. You're going to be working hard for at least an hour, so don't make it even more difficult by wearing something you're uncomfortable in. That goes for both your clothes and shoes. Unless you're used to wearing 4-inch stiletto heels for eight hours a day, you might want to take classes in flat shoes, or lower heels at least, and save the taco altos for the evening milongas. Take care of your feet!

What should I wear to the milongas?

Tango fashion in general tends to more sensual and flashy than we are used to, so you can be a little daring with your clothing choices at a tango festival. Show a little skin, go for something brighter or wilder than you would in "real life." C'mon, you know you want to.

I like to look for dresses that have something interesting going on in the back like a low dip, a tie, or a flare on the skirt. Most outfits put the details on the front because that's what normal people notice, but tango people are most often observed in an embrace while on the dance floor, so you only really see the back.
Also, too much beading/sequins on the front of a bodice can make your chest extremely bumpy and uncomfortable for the leader in close embrace. (One leader even mentioned to me that he disliked underwire bras and corsets with boning because they could be a bit pokey in close embrace.)

In an effort to make your embrace as comfortable as possible, it's a good idea to consider the touch-friendly factor of the fabric of your outfit. Soft jersey or silky fabrics are infinitely more embrace-able than scratchy, stiff polyesters.

I also do a "tango test" before I buy anything. I stand in the fitting room and go through all kinds of twists and stretches to make sure nothing moves or reveals too much while I'm dancing. Sometimes I even bring my heels and do some boleos to make sure the heel won't get caught in the hem of the skirt.

Often the festival organizers will let you know about attire for each milonga ahead of time, either on their website or fliers or in the festival packet you receive at registration. "Grande Balls" tend to be formal - so break out the slinky dresses and high heels! Some festivals, like the Tango de Los Muertos festival in Boston, have themed milongas, so take a look before you pack.

What shoes/accessories should I wear?

Of course you can never underestimate the power of a great pair of shoes. As Manolo Blahnik says, "When you have heels you only need to pack two black dresses, and fill the case with twenty pairs of shoes."
Feel free to play with accessories to dress up your little black dress, too. Just make sure that they're dance-able, i.e.: not creating an uncomfortable embrace for you partner by poking or catching anything.

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Conversation Tips:

The first dance of the tanda has ended, and you're standing on the dance floor with your partner waiting for the next song to begin so that you can begin dancing again. Everyone around you is chatting, but you're at a loss. What do you say?
- Ask your partner how they are enjoying the festival/classes/city.
- You can always ask him where he's from.
- Commenting on the music/decor/food is also easy.

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Foot Care Tips:

Tennis Balls! These things rock. Put one on the floor and roll your bare foot around on it with a little pressure. Ahhhhh.
Can be used on spasming back muscles too, in a pinch. Just lie on your back and put the ball under the unhappy muscle. Let the weight of your body relax into the ball, putting some nice pressure right where it hurts.

Moleskin: The best way to treat blisters is to avoid gettting them altogether. Moleskin is brilliant! You can get it at any drugstore in the footcare area. Just cut off a piece of this fuzzy tape and attach it to your foot over the area that's being irritated and you'll be good to go.

Epson Salts: I don't know if these salts actually do anything scientific, but really you just can't beat a hot foot soak followed by a cool foot bath for rejuvinating tired feet. Does wonders for the whole body, actually.

Baby Wipes: I got this tip from my friend Michelle, who definitely has the freshest smelling feet I've ever paid attention to. I was talking about how sad I was that my shoes always get really dirty inside after only a few wearings, and she whipped a travel size packet of baby wipes out of her bag. Clever girl.

Stay Barefoot and Wear Comfy Shoes. As much as possible! Let those feet stretch and move and be flat for a while. When you need to wear shoes, give your feet good support every day, and they'll do their best to support you every night.

Exercises For Your Feet:

Towel Grab - Put a towel flat on the floor and stand on it barefoot. Arch your foot, trying to to scrunch up the towel under your arch without using your toes. Repeat, using the toes.

Big Toe Crunches -Stand barefoot with your feet/toes flat on the floor. Isolate your big toe and pull it away from the rest of your toes, keeping all toes on the floor.

Barefoot Pushups -Stand barefoot with your feet flat on the floor. Slowly rise for 4 counts onto the balls of your feet, pulling your ankles, knees and thighs towards each other for stability. Balance for 4 counts, and slowly lower for 4 counts back to flat feet. If you need more of a challenge, try it one foot at a time.

List of Foot Exercises with illustrations!

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What To Bring To Festivals:

Staying With a Host
If you're going to be a House Guest, do your best to leave them happy that you came:
- It's nice to let your host know your itinerary. Even if it's just, "We'll be leaving at 10a, and we'll be back around 6a. Don't wait up!"
- Bring a towel, if you have room in your suitcase. Less laundry for your gracious host.
- Keep things clean. Do some dishes, brush off the crumbs, you know.
- Take your host out for a meal or make something at home as a thank you.
- Chip in for food/gas/etc.

Staying In a Hotel
If you're staying in a hotel you can be as messy as you want, who cares?
Stuff to bring if you're staying in a hotel:
- Swimsuit.
- Travel Candle.
- "Add water" food.

General Helpful Stuff to Bring:
- Pills - Advil/Pain Relievers/etc.
- Emergen-C
- Epsom Salts.
- Band-aids.
- Moleskin.
- Non-tango entertainment (Books, music, movies). For when you need a break.
- Chocolate.

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Tango Humor:


Tango Cheeseballs: Andres Amarilla and Meredith Klein, and Tova and Carlos Moreno.

Grocery Store Tango: You know you've done this at least once.

The Rebeccas Play a Game: Tango Chicas Rock!

Musicality and Humor in Tango Dance: Fun selection of performances that will inspire and amuse.


All Things Argentine Tango: Humorous tango writings from Portland's own Polly McBride.

You Know You're a Tango Junkie When . . .

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