There are two types of social events that you can attend to see and dance tango. One is called a “práctica” and is meant as a working session to practice new vocabulary and learn from each other. A more formal social event is known as a “milonga,” which is the same word used for the a specific genre of tango music. (In other words you attend a milonga where you dance milonga, tango, and vals tandas).
Unlike the práctica, there is no practicing at the milonga, the purpose is to just dance without instruction or correction. For some, a milonga is an opportunity to lose oneself in the dance while for others it is a time to sit back, socialize, and watch. Milonga as a social event accommodates a variety of interests, whether you want to participate in the dance or you want to observe and listen while sipping on a glass of champagne, it is really up to you.
You do not need a partner to attend a social tango event as everybody switches partners after each tanda. Unless you choose to dance with the same person, you will have the opportunity to dance with a variety of dancers from around the world, some of whom won’t even speak the same language as you!
When you choose to dance social tango, you become a part of a world-wide community of dancers. Some you will see on a weekly basis dancing at local milongas and prácticas, others you will see throughout the year at various festivals and marathons around the world. A tango marathon is a special event usually held over a weekend that consists of daytime and nighttime milongas. A tango festival is similar to marathons but in addition to milongas there are topic-specific classes, taught by visiting instructors.
Social tango is now being taught in most major cities around the world. If you are curious about tango, you can start by attending a práctica or milonga in your area. Often there is a lesson offered before the start of the event. You can also find individual teachers as well as dance studios in your area that offer group tango courses and private sessions.