The same advice I give beginners who go to festivals seems to apply here at the regular milongas. Stick it out to the end. Seems I need to take my own advice.
Last night a group of us went to Canning, which is a beautiful room and has a really lovely energy. The floor is a fantastic, although slick, chevron parquet, and seems to be the perfect size. I really liked it there. We all sat at a table, ordered beverages, and started to scope the floor for potential partners. It became apparent that although there were quite a number of good dancers there, and a few name brands, it was going to be a tough night to get dances. Cabeceo was difficult for me. I had to laugh at times because I would focus on a leader I wanted to dance with, and watched him be focused on the follower he wanted. He’d seal that deal. So I would move my eyes to another leader. Same sequence. And so forth and so on. Luckily one of our group was a leader and he was lovely enough to dance with me several times which allowed me to both be seen and have some lovely fun tandas while waiting.
Finally, around 2:40am I started getting really good dances. The room had cleared quite a bit, and the leaders I had been looking at were finally looking around. The last hour and a half I had one great dance after another. When the milonga was ending around 4am, I went home happy.
It is really hard to stick it out. I know. Keeping that up energy and smile is at times torturous. Luckily my tablemates were all lovely friends and conversation was rarely lacking when some of us were sitting. So make sure you go with friends to the tougher milongas so that you will not have to amuse yourself while waiting. But waiting to the end, until a good dancer is willing to take a chance at the end of the night can pay off big time for you. The other dancers are better able to see because there are fewer people and they watch the expression and interaction between you (the unknown) and your partner (a known quality).