This can be a delicate issue and its best to find out early on in your dancing career what is regarded as the correct etiquette so as to avoid embarrassment.
The first thing to think about is that tango is quite frequently danced in fairly close hold, (close embrace) although we may also dance in open hold. So its simple common sense about following normal personal hygiene so as to feel confident in yourself and also show respect to your dance partners. For instance, it is best to avoid eating garlic or raw onions on your tango nights, but also its not a good idea to wear very strong perfume or aftershave, as this can also be quite overpowering.
When you go to your first milonga, you may wonder how to ask someone to dance, or how to perhaps initiate being asked for a dance. Things do vary from club to club, and in our society it is not unusual for women to ask men to dance. However, in some places this would be frowned upon, so you need to try to find out what is acceptable in the club/ milonga where you are.
In Buenos Aires however, things are done very differently, and in many ways it would be easier if we could follow some of their habits, such as practising the “cabezeo”as a way of communicating our interest in dancing with someone, without actually speaking to them. What happens with this, is the men and women actively seek out with their eyes alone who they would like to dance with, and once eye contact has been made, the dance can be agreed with a subtle nod of the head at which point the man will walk over to the lady and offer his hand to invite her to dance. This method is also rather useful as the lady has some control over who she engages eye contact with, and by simply looking elsewhere can avoid any potential embarrassment (to either party) of actually rejecting someone.
During our club nights we hope to cover topics such as milonga etiquette, but it is also very useful indeed to read the book by Christine Denniston, “the meaning of Tango the story of the Argentinian dance” for some thorough explanations.