There are some important differences between social dancing in AT and in MJ:
Keep on moving
As the song goes “Don’t stop”. AT is a progressive dance – every couple progresses anti-clockwise around the dance floor. The men walk forwards, and the women walk backwards – that’s the essence of tango movement. MJ-ers will be used to (mainly) staying in one spot, and occasionally moving to take up some empty space that opens up.
Adjusting to a progressive movement is very difficult, as you are aware of the pressure of people coming behind you – so you can’t usually stop for a long period, and you certainly can’t go backwards without horrible things happening…
“3-song dance” rule
Unlike in MJ venues, where people usually dance one or two dances together, the standard in AT is for couples to dance one “Tanda” – usually 3 songs.
Beware: if your partner really really doesn’t like your dancing, they will say “Thank you” after one or two dances, then walk off. This is considered a mortal insult in AT – whereas in MJ it’s standard behaviour…
Followers don’t usually ask
Unlike MJ, where pretty much everyone asks everyone to dance, unfortunately (in my view), there is a culture within the AT scene where the leaders usually do the asking exclusively. Technically, there is a whole "cabaceo" culture within Tango, which is based on "glances across the room", and allows the women to select partners with a look, but I suspect this is more myth than reality in UK venues.
Anyway, what this boils down to is:
- Leaders: don’t expect to be asked to dance very much, and expect to have to do most if not all of the asking.
- Followers: expect to spend quite a lot of time sitting out, at least until you get "known"
Typically, AT is a bit more “dressy” than MJ – which is nice. Shirts for the men, dresses for the women, are relatively common. Which is nice.