The question of ‘dress’ ‘what will I wear to a Milonga?‘ is often talked about by new and experienced tangueros.
The short answer: Dress like you are going to a cocktail party- dress your Sunday best.
Followers, a knee-length dress.
Leaders, business trousers and a shirt with collar and buttons (tie and jacket optional).
Pamela & Richard from Southern Cross Tango in Geelong had this to say:
‘In the early days men and women who were not appropriately dressed were denied entry to the milongas. Men wore suits, women wore elegant cocktail dresses. Today, it is still customary for mature men to wear jackets when they dance. Shoes for men and women had to be in good condition. Shabby and shoddy just didn’t cut it at the milongas.
These days, young dancers might dress more casually, but women who take care with their appearance and look good get more invitations to dance, and women appreciate dancing with men who take care with their appearance too.
We learn tango steps so we can look good on a dance floor. Clothes may not maketh the dancer, but it sure helps to look the part.’
Regardless of the season, you are usually going to be warm at a Milonga, so don’t wear any wool.
Followers don’t wear a very short or very tight skirt. You need to be able to lift your legs without showing your underwear.
Wear cloths and shoes that you ‘love’. Shoes need to stay on your feet with strap or laces and no rubber on the soles (it must not grip the floor).
Leaders make sure your trousers don’t have a turned-up cuff (this is one of the few things that can make you fall.)
No amount of Hollywood tape can save you if you go strapless.
One of my regular teachers said to me that many followers wear dresses that hug their curves but stretch and flow near their legs. Skirts with slits allow followers to move and are sexy. It is important to make sure that you can take large steps without hindrance. Depending on the milonga, men may either wear a suit and tie or dress slacks and an over shirt.
An Argentinian pen pal had this to say to me:
“Carlos, tell your group to wear their Tango-iest outfit!
They will look like a tango dancers and feel more confident.
Doing things that make you personally feel confident is a part of your tango technique.
Tango-ey clothes for women are dresses or harem pants.
For men, being Tangoiness is quickly invoked by wearing a nice shirt — and jeepers, you can go as far as you want — jacket, tie, vest, suspenders, the whole drill.
An Argentinian and also a Russian visitor to Australia commented that they were surprised at the lack of ‘formal‘ dress at most Milongas they attended in Australia. They did not see this as bad necessarily, but felt the tangueros were missing out on making the most of the Milonga.
Your thoughts, experiences about dress at Milongas will be most welcome.