The educated Tanguero

Essential Tango Knowledge

Tango Terminology

APERTURA: The open side step (#2 in the basic construction)

ARREPENTIDA: A step to change direction in a crowded dancefloor. Usually a combination of a rockstep like movement and a turning component.

AXIS: The long axis of the body, projected usually through the center of gravity. Usually both partner have their own axis, sometimes in special turns, a common axis can be created.

BALDOSA: A type of left turn with follower stepping outside after a side step. Usually turning left, similar patterns can be used for natural (right) turns.

BARRIDA (Arrastre): Accompanying the foot of partner in contact with own foot. Creates the illusion of pushing the partners foot. Actually, the step is led by the body, which enables led follower Barridas.

BOLEO (Voleo): Change of direction of turn during an Ocho. The free leg of the lady has to be relaxed. Used with higher energy, a whip action happens. Boleos can be backward following a back Ocho or forward following a forward Ocho. With the Boleo, the direction of the Ocho (turn) changes. For usual Boleos the startpoint is the turn and the circular movement of the free leg (see linear Boleo).

Forward BOLEO: Boleo in forward circular swing (see Boleo).

Linear BOLEO: Boleo danced as a swinging movement of the free leg in linear (forward or backward) steps.

CADENA: Multi step turns (chain steps) usually in parallel system.

CALESITA: Carousel. The follower is on a stable axis and the leader is dancing around with forward or backward steps in a circular movement. Can be done in Carpa position.

CAMBIO DE FRENTE: Steps designed to change the direction of movement.

CAMINADA: Walk. “Caminada por el medio” normal position of partners

CARPA: Position where both partners are off axis leaning together. Used for Volcadas or Calesitas.

COLGADA: Off axis turn with the axis of the follower leaning backwards. Axis of both partners are V-shaped. Center of the turn is the supporting foot of the follower.

CORTE: An incomplete (cut of) step used as a change of direction.

COSTADO: “caminada por el costado” outside walk to left of partner. COSTADO DERECHO: outside to the right

CUNITA: Rock step with full weight transfer.

CROSS: Closing feet with crossed legs (forward or backward).



El BASICO: 8 count basic (salida) beginning with RF back for leader. Some teacher separate it into INTRODUCION (step 1-2), SALIDA (steps 3-5) and RESOLUCION (steps 6-8). Some teacher call simply all basic constructions a SALIDA.

EN CONTRA: A usual technique (ocho or voleo) accompanied into the opposite direction (f.e. the Lady does an ocho to her left, the man dances an ocho to his left). This creates a turn. Typically used for turns, as start into a turn or to create a favourable position for other techniques like sacadas).

ENGANCHE: Passive leg hook from open step position into a turn. Usually created by a deep sacada with active displacement.

GANCHO: An active (mostly linear) backward leg movement is stopped by the thigh of partner resulting in a dynamic leg hook. Followed by a forward movement.

Forw. GANCHO: Dynamic leg hook following a forward and circular movement of the free leg.

GIRO: A turn in general, typically used for turns that include at least one or two full Molinete constructions for the lady.

GIRO PEQUENO: A small turn with less than a full Molinete, typically starting from a back ocho for the lady into a forward ocho.

GIRITO: Small Giro, typically not following the Molinete pattern or with less than 4 steps thereof.

HAMACA: Rock step (like Cunita)

MOLINETE: Step pattern frequently used for turns (Giros): back, side, forw., side

OCHO: Figure 8 step as a combination of a step and a turn. Forward ocho= forward step, Backward ocho= backward step. Ochos are led by the leader in terms of size (step) and amount of turn.


OCHO ATRAS: Backward Ocho

OCHO CORTADO: Generally a combination of a forward Rebote into paso ocho (QQS), a Rebote to the side and a forward Cross for the lady (QQS). The most popular step for close embrace dancing with numerous variations in step pattern and rhythm.

OCHO ACOMPAGNADO: The follower dances an Ocho while the leader is dancing another step pattern (f.e. an ocho as well)

PARADA: Stop of follower in an open step position. Weight on both feet, axis between both feet. Position is locked. Leader may search foot contact to both feet of follower.

PASADA: Step over leg of partner to continue (usually) into a forward ocho or barrida.

REBOTE: Rock step (bounce) without full transfer of weight. Popular step for close embrace dancing. Rebotes can be: forward, side or backward, into a cross or step or doubled.

SACADA: Step into the footspace of the partner which creates the illusion of flicking away the partner´s leg. Actually no or only slight contact happens. Sacadas are usually danced as forward or backward steps of the leader or follower (invited or follower Sacada).

SANDWICH (El sanguchito): Taking the foot of the partner between both feet.

SOLTADA: Opening the hold to do single partner turns.

TRASPIE: Syncopated step. In Milonga typically danced together, in tango typically used to change feet (system).

VOLCADA: Cross following a swinging (rotary) movement either forward or backward with change of weight. Volcadas can be (and are usually) danced off axis in carpa position.

WALK (Caminar): Forward or backward walk

(to be continued)




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