1. The Cabaceo Is Your Friend - In other styles of partner dancing it is acceptable to walk up to a lady and ask her to dance. But experienced tangueros and tangueras expect the cabaceo. The cabaceo was invented to preserve everyone's ego. By walking up and asking a lady to dance directly, or even worse, taking her arm without permission, you're making it much harder for her to refuse. This creates a power imbalance where the lady feels pressured to say yes even if she doesn't feel like it. Have confidence and use the cabaceo, and that way you'll know that every dance you get is one the follow really wants, too!
2. If She Says No, Let It Go - If a lady doesn't want to dance with you, just roll with it! Don't pressure her or ask her why. She doesn't need a reason. Pressuring a lady to explain herself is a sure-fire way to turn her off from future dances. We men already enjoy the privilege of simply not approaching someone we don't want to dance with. We "pre-reject" people all the time. It's only fair that we offer the ladies a pressure-free way to opt out of a dance if they choose! The blows to our egos only make us stronger.
3. Let Your Dancing Do The Talking - Some dancers love to chat while dancing - I admit that if I'm dancing with a good friend, I sometimes indulge in a little mid-dance banter. But most of the time I don't talk while I'm dancing, especially if I'm trying to impress. And I never teach on the dance floor. That sets up another power imbalance. Not cool, dude! Most of the time in tango, even with inexperienced follows, if you have to teach it, it probably means you can't lead it. I've seen instructors dance with complete beginners and make them look like queens. Let your dancing do the talking!
4. Watch Those Arms - Maestro Javier Antar said, "When a dance teacher asks a question and you answer 'the torso', 80-90% of the time you will be correct." That lead's gotta come from your torso, not those big biceps! And with your left hand, leads, go for "meat-to-meat" contact! The meat of your hand to the meat of hers, with your fingers wrapping around her hand confidently, not limply or crushingly.
5. You Cannot Go Wrong In A Suit - I know this is hard sometimes, especially in Buenos Aires in the summer! (If it's just too hot, you can still rock a vest.) And for practicas (including Practica Audaz ironically!) it's not really necessary. But I was at a milonga recently where I was literally the only guy who wore a suit. I was chatting with a lady and another guy. He asked me, "Why are you in a suit?" as if I had done something wrong. Before I could even reply the lady said, "Are you kidding? He looks lovely!" A great place to get suits is www.Indochino.com. There are some really classy outfits there, though I recommend fudging your measurements a bit to get a wider leg for tango. And don't be afraid to go for a little color!
So there you have it! 5 sure-fire ways to project confidence at any milonga in the world! Feel free to leave comments and feedback below!
(Update: The comments appear in white font for some inexplicable reason, and I can't yet figure out how to change it. To read the comments for now, just highlight the space below the commenter's name.)