Another tango blogger (http://me-likey-tango.blogspot.com - check him out!) used the word "turbulence" to describe a milonga that seemed to be particularly strange-feeling (or maybe chaotic is a better word.) The vibe just isn't the same as it usually is at that venue. I've run in to this a couple of times. It's especially jarring, and sometimes very disheartening, when it happens at a milonga that is normally very comfortable. The music is good. There are lots of familiar faces. But the feeling just isn't the same. Dances feel a bit bumpy. The line of dance can be erratic. Everyone seems to be hearing different music.
I think there are few things that can contribute to turbulence. A higher number of new dancers than usual (not just beginner dancers, but dancers who don't usually attend that particular venue). If one or two dancers who are normally the "glue" of milongas (those dancers who welcome new faces, dance with all the new people etc, make the rounds, saying hello to everyone) are feeling out of sorts, or are absent, That can be enough to throw off the feel of a milonga. Sometimes it's just a mystery.
How to handle those milongas? That's a personal preference sort of thing. If you're up to it and haven't been too discouraged, make the rounds and chat a bit. Introduce yourself to new people. Be liberal with the hugs. Wait a few tandas and watch the floor. If there seem to be a lot of collisions or just some visible unpleasantness, you may want to sit out for a little while. For me, these milongas tend to get better much later in the evening. In the mean time, look for your usual partners and say hello. Ask how they're doing, even ask their impression of the floor - but resist the temptation to get too negative. Negativity seems to build on negativity and soon no one's having a good time.
Has anyone else encountered these sorts of conditions? What did you do?