Thursday, March 15, 2018

What to know about Encuentros

Encuentro in Paris, France
In Europe, and now more and more in America, organizers have developed little tango festivals (festivalitos) which in all cases are close embrace weekends.  The term for these small events has settled on the Spanish word for "encounter" (encuentro).

Encuentros are amazing for things that happen and things that don't happen.

Things that don't happen:
  • Obligation dances.  No one asks you for a dance. Tango etiquette has long established the cabeceo/mirada (non-verbal) method of asking for a dance as the epicenter of that etiquette.  If you "don't believe in" non-verbal requests or don't know how to get a dance without asking, an encuentro is not a place where you will dance much.
  • Crashes. It is rare to be concerned that someone is dangerous next to you. "Tango stars" don't come nor are they invited. Floorcraft at an encuentro assumes that one can dance well in a very small space.  No one will kick you from out-of-control moves such as ganchos and boleos. An excellent dancer with poor floorcraft will be thrown out or at least never invited again to an encuentro and put on a black list. Personally speaking, the feeling of safety allows me to dance at a higher level. Sometimes I have to use all my survival skills to protect my partner at festivals and local milongas. When I am forced to go into a survival mode while dancing, my focus on dance skills will suffer. The encuentro allows me to focus on what really matters: The music, embrace and unique dance expression of my partner.  
  • Tango "stars" cannot fit in the encuentro ronda!
    Milonguero stars are created in the
    star-filled heavenly embrace of their partners.
    (Encuentro in Newport News, Virginia*)
  • Tango shows. Did you come to watch someone dance all by themselves or to dance with all your friends?  No shows or demos as a rule.
Things that DO happen:
  • Excellent dance music.  An encuentro is almost certain to invite well-known DJ's who understand Buenos Aires rules of tandas and cortinas.  (Four-song tango tandas x 2, a three-vals tanda, again two tango tandas, and finally, a three-milonga tanda.). The DJ also knows not to mix orchestras as a rule. The DJ's take time to find the best quality reproductions and play mostly traditional Golden Age tango. But what good is to have excellent dance music without a good quality of sound?  Encuentro DJ's generally have the highest level technical knowledge about sound reproduction and the best copies of songs. Enjoy their carefully equalized, distortion-free music that is carefully kept at volume levels that will not harm your hearing!
  • Excellent dancers with warm embraces.
  • Gender balance. Having gender balance relaxes everyone quite a bit. Some men and women may sit more than they want, but gender imbalance is usually not a factor. 
  • Social dancers. Many dancers often try to dance with everyone at the small event--not out of obligation but out of joy.
Note: The encuentro I am describing is from my experience. And yes, I am idealizing the encuentro here a bit. But in all cases, I have had a great time--heaven on earth.  Also, I write from my conversations with organizers who may add or subtract some minor elements. One organizer may add a "demo" show of milonguero dancing. Most but not all organizers will make the milongas not so long; so everyone will show up at the same time. This ensures that the balance will be right.  Most encuentros will have a dinner together.  Most will have lots of food and drink included in the price. Each organizer and country will bring a bit of spice to the encuentro and the concept will morph over time--for better or worse.  I am open to edit and change this post.  Write me at or message me on my Facebook Tango-Therapist page ( with your ideas.

-------More info----------
Register to find out when and where encuentros in the USA are happening at  Most European encuentros are through invitation as dancers notice the quality of your embrace and knowledge of tango etiquette.

*Photo credits:
  • Paris encentro with Sybille and me Dec 2014.  
  • The line of dancers in the ronda was taken by Ivy Garrenton
    at the Newport News, VA (USA) encuentro.  March 2018.  

Insights about what an encuentro looks like:

Paris encuentro:  Dans les Bras (in your arms).  Sybille and I were there. Heaven!

 Barcelona encuentro:  Abrázame.

La cita de los amingos 7

Tango Short Films by Roberto:


  1. Sorry to pour some water into your wine...personally I dislike events with face control and such with gender discrimination. Whatever the reasons for the sex imbalance, the non-culture of preselection with its hidden pressure to make nice to organizers etc. is not the right answer. Yes, I wrote sex because there is an increasing number of women who can dance both roles. As a male, I don't feel stressed when there are more women than men. Perhaps men who do should work on their personality.

  2. Yokoito, thanks for coming over from Berlin to visit my blog. I have written other posts about the same concerns you have. But within the context of this post, I did not want to get into those particular concerns. Many can dance both roles and do at encuentros. And we all hope as you do that more men will get themselves into see therapists for their personality overhaul. :-) Anyway, I invite you to visit those other post by puting "encuentro" into the search engine on my blog. Irgendwann vielleicht wäre mein Posts geschätzt als nicht mehr so "banale" von Dir beschrieben? Du kannst mich besser helfen, wenn Du mir bei persönlich schreibst. Tschüß, Mark

  3. I have been in tango for a long time in BsAs and in the US. Personal preferences aside, I appreciate maintaining a dance's truest nature, but also recognize an other's culture. I see no need to 'mandate' such things as cabeceo and a specific number/style of tanda as being the 'only' or 'pompous' ways of enjoying the dance and art. Verbal invitations to dance are quite common in the US, for example. For this to be acceptable at a social or latin dance, but 'completely unacceptable' at a tango dance (milonga) seems ludicrous. To pay homage to the tango culture of BsAs is, of course, respectful, but should not be mandatory when in an other culture. I detest cliches, but there is one that begins, "When in Rome...." No?

  4. Dear "Unknown": Perhaps one should ask not for a dance but ask the woman if she prefers to be asked to dance. Now, that would be a true gentlemanly way to do it. Also, one would learn that many women and men prefer *not* to be asked. Yet others will say "yes, I do," but only because of *the one asking.* To the next guy, she might say, "No, please don't ask." Make it easy on yourself! Since you don't know a woman's preference, ask with your eyes! It's that easy.

    When I dance blues or salsa or even socially with all sorts of music, tango skills have allowed me to "ask" for dances without words. It's a skill which does not obligate others to one's wishes. Isn't that a nice thing to learn as a skill?

    1. Some of that has been done by MANY of us in the Dance Community (in a normal adult social life)for MANY centuries. Somehow some of the folks in the Argentine Tango community missed those lessons in life. They surely would not have survived in the Golden Years of AT. How would they deal with smoking and drinking, and prostitutes, and smelly gauchos, and playboys, and criminals, and dance hall fights and stabbings, etc.?


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