Arrabalero - Slum
Rough person, Someone from the outskirts. A Badass. The inhabitants who
originally contributed to the development of the tango. Tango was
developed by men dancing with men as they waited for the prostitutes.
They would often pay a prostitute to dance with them with silver coins.
Aranque - uproot,
A movement that creates energy to force a momentum.
Arrastre - Drag
Dragging of the foot, Sweeping, Pushing motion. Same as Barrida.
A change in movement involving a cradle rock step to change direction
of a figure. usually used to shift away from obstacles on the dance
floor or as a change in trajectory.
Atras - Backward
A movement backwards, Usually a backward walk into either a caminar or
Bailamos - Shall
Asking a lady to dance in a polite way.
Bailar - Dance
Bailongo - Milonga
Milonga. A Slang term for dance night.
Bailarin - Dancer
Ballerino or Ballerina. some one accomplished in dance mastery.
Balancing, Rocking step
Balance, Cadencia, Cunita
A square figure resembling a tile. Box step.
Bandeneon, A unique instrument used in tango music. It is in the
aerophone family and has a distictly lonely timbre used to give
emotional accents to tango music. It is said that the bandeneon has a
Barrida - Sweep
Pushing the foot of the dance partner in a sweeping motion.
Barrio - The hood
The neighbourhood place.
Basico - Basic
The academic figure of stepping to the 8 step figure known as 8-step
Basic or Salida Figure.
A figure whereby the leader foot takes the followers foot into a series
small mid air circles like pedaling a bicycle.
Bien Parado -
Good form in tango. Postura and elegance.
Bloque - Block
Blocking the followers foot with the leaders foot, see Parada - stop.
Boleo - Volley
A movement where a ocho is converted from a forward to back or vice
versa resulting in a whip volleying the foot.
Brazos - Arms
Arm position of tango dancers
Asking a woman to dance from a distance. Non verbal cue, can be a
pointed a finger down in a small spinning motion, establishing eye
contact with a small nod and glance at the floor. or a small motion of
a extended open palm. The lady will then nod politely and the approach
can be made to make the way to the dance floor.
Cabeza - Head or
The head of the Dancer.
Cadena - Chain
A figure taking the follower around. Weaving.
Cadencia - Cadence
A rhythmic step. see Arrenpentida.
Caida - Fall
A fall step, leading a back cruzada without a weight shift.
A move where the man walks
around the lady while she pivots on the one supporting leg from the
flamenco position. The embelishment leg is tucked behind the suoorting
leg like a stork. Adornos may also be done during this move.
Cambio - Change
Cambio de Frente (Change of face) - Steps where the follower takes the
leaders steps while the leader takes the followers steps leading into a
change to the opposing direction. Walks are usually followed by a
pivoted side step then converted into the opposite direction.
Cambio de Peso (Change of Foot) - A series of quick weight shifts. The
axis is switched a few times on the spot. This gives a delay with axis
shifting allowing the lead to choose which foot to use next.
Caminada - Walking
A series of forward walking steps. can be stopped at a cruzada and
reversed in direction to back walks. walking is the fumdamentals of
tango and there are variations of walking drills to get used to the
- Walking to the Cross
Steps 3, 4, 5 of the 8-count basic after the opening. The second
section of the salida figure.
Caminar - Walk
A natural step in a Walk. The most basic tango step. There are six main
walks in the tango. Left foward, Right Forward, Left Back, Right Back
and Left side, Right side. All other moves are combinations, variations
and interupted leads.
Candombe - A type
Drumming originating from African slaves.
Cagrejo - Crab
A figure whereby the leader turns the body 90 degrees from the follower
and advances sideways.
Canyengue - Old
Style of Tango
A style of tango originating from slaughter houses. Characterised by a
very low frame of embrace wrapped around the lady with the leaders left
hand holding the lady low on the waist and usinf footwork from the
knees down. The dance is danced to triple timed steps.
Tango style with many cortes, Cuttings, interuptions and arrepentidas.
Caricia - Caress
Stroking the partner with the shoe or leg. eg. Lustrada.
Carpa - Tent
When the Leader and follower lean toward each other causing a triagular
Where the follower caresses her
supporting leg with her embellishment leg. eg. Cuatro and Lustrada.
Tapping the foot to show the
beat. eg. pica.
Cintura - Waist
Codigo - Code of
ettiquette observed in milongas, eg. cabaceo
Codica - Code
Default ladies steps when doing
a molinete figure when unclear about the lead, its is a automatic
default as she is waiting for the lead so she can translate into
codica. forward ocho, side step, back ocho, side step, foward ocho,
side step, back ocho. forward ocho followed by side step followed by
forward ocho is not standard as it cuts flow. this is allowed in
Making sure that each step is taken with a return to axis (eje) and
that the brushing of knees and ankles occurs (junto).
Colgada - Leaning
Playing with the axis by leaning away from partner.
The Rough men who originally
contributed to inventing the tango.
Compas - Timing,
The Beat in which the tango is danced to. Distinctively phrased. The
best way to understand the compas is to listen to tango music until you
can predict the flow of the music.
How the leader and follower fit
Locking the foot behind the other, Reversed cruzada.
Corrida - Run,
A series of quick steps where follower and leader match the fast
Corte, Cortado -
Quick direction change cutting a figure. Ocho cortado is one where the
direction changes quickly. Quebrada can be used and is a body twist
motion when the music reaches a pause.
Cortina - Curtain
A break in a milonga of a different musical genre to separate the
tandas and allow dancers to find a new dance partner as the walk off
the floor. The cortina also demonstrates the milonga organiser's
preference in other music.
Cross walks -
Leaders and followers walking on the same foot. Alternating foot work
so it does not follow standard parallel walks.
Cruzada - Cross
The free foot being crossed
with the supporting foot.
Cuatro - Four
Embelishment where the follower flicks the embelishment leg around her
own supporting leg creating a 4 shape.
Lifting the followers foot off the ground with a small scooping motion.
Cuerpo - Body
Body of the dancer
Cunita - Crib,
Rocking back and forth, Can be used to change trajectory.
Dedo - Finger
Finger of the dancer, Can be used for cabaceo by stiring the finger in
a downward motion while maintaining eye contact. It represents "Do you
mind going for a spin?"
Derecha - Right
To the Right
Slowing of Music
Slowing down of music, simultaneously slowing of the dance.
Sacada, displacing the leg on the off beats.
Dibujo - To Draw
drawing on the ground, a Lapiz (pencil) or Rulo/Ronde (round).
Doble Tiempo -
Dancing twice as fast.
Eight Count Basic
The 8 Step Basic Figure. It is a refinement of years of dancing to
include 3 elements. The Opening, The Walk to the Cross, and the
Eje - Axis
The two balancing points for the supporting legs. Fron the centre of
the head to the bottom of the supporting leg. This provides a
foundation for the embelishment leg to fall towards the centreline.
Axis can also be tilted in moves such as the colgada.
Elevada - Elevated
Dancing with your feet slightly above the ground. Used for high
friction surfaces which inhibit dance movements. eg. cobbled stone,
paving, grass or concrete.
Allowing the foot to swing behind the other foot.
Enganche - Hook,
Hook into the partners legs together. Both hooks at the same time,
Entrada - Insert,
A sacada without the force to displace and affect the followers foot,
it just enters and leaves the foot without the displacement.
leaders leg is hooked onto the supporting leg while the follower takes
him around on a molinete. Similar to a planeo.
Entregar - To
Follower must surrender control to the leader.
Espalda - Dancers
Espejo - Mirror
Same as Chiche, Tapping of one's foot to the rhythm.
Fantasia - Show
Tango, Fantasy Tango
Tango danced with more flair and drama.
Farolito - Small
Rulo, Represents the Spirals on the Street lanterns.
Freno - Brake
To stop on a step
Getting the lady to a flammenco position and tilting to a volcada
apilado frame, then dragging her toes across the ground while the leader
Gancho - Hook
Hooking into the partners leg.
Garcha - Wrong
step, Stuff up
Wrong step, Tripping or Collision
Giro - Turn
Turns, When a grapevine is pivoted around a counter motion it creates a
Golpecito - Tap
pica, tapping with the embelishment foot.
When a molinete is done in a straight line. Leader follows the
direction of the codica to a side trajectory.
Hamaca - Hammock
Same as a rocking step. Cunita (Cradle).
leaning into the partner. same as Apilado or tent.
The movement of the leaders body that indicates a movement to the
A quick opportunitistic kick between the partners legs. An invasion of
Izquierda - Left
Left of the body
Junta - Closing
the feet, Together
Closing the embelishment leg to the supporting leg. to the axis point
where the brush of ankles and knees can occur. Sometimes called
Lapiz - Pencil
Drawing on the ground with a pointed ball of foot. eg, Rulo
The Whipping motion during a boleo where the lateral side motion is
transferred into a flicking motion off the ground.
Lento - slowly
Tango is learned slowly with persistence and practice.
Liso - smooth
Suave movements where the dance is a continuous movement.
Llevada - Elevated
Carrying the followers foot off the ground with the friction of the
side of the shoe. the leader will then place the foot in the new
Lustrada - Luste,
polish the shoe.
Shining the shoe on the clothing. A way of wiping the dirt of your shoe
on your dance partner.
Marca - The Mark,
Marking the lady to move, Leading. Leading is required to push the
follower into moves. Without marca, the lady cannot know what to do.
Using the finger tips and the palm of the hand on the followers back to
indicate the marca with slight turning of the shoulders indicates to
the lady how to follow.
Media luna - half
Back ocho, side, forward ocho around the man for half a turn.
- Tango Social night
Milonga is the social night, also the fixed tempo stepped version of
Mira - Look
A figure where the lady turns around the man on codica. Taken out on a
ocho step, side and then a reversed ocho, side step, The move continues
until a change in lead.
Mordida - Bite
The leader clips the followers foot in between his feet causing a
Catching the followers knee between the leader knees.
Ocho - Eight
Two crossed over forward steps with hips twists causing the figure to
stay on the spot with a figure 8 pattern.
Ocho Cortado -
When the ocho is interupted into a reversal of direction and taken into
a side displacement followed with a cruzada.
Otra (vez) - Again
Called for a repeat performance.
Outskirts style of Tango. see Canyengue.
Tango music is played by many orchestras with the same song but in
their unique style and feel.
Palanca - Lever,
When the leader assists the follower jump off the ground with a
push upward from a low hand. This usually follows directly after an
Parada - Stop
Stopping the dance.
Parallel System -
When the walks of the leader and follower, with mirrored steps. Ladies
right back with a Mens left forward. The follower makes space for the
leader with the foot on the same side.
Pareja - Pair
The tango couple
Pasada - Passing
Whe the leader presents his leg for the follower to Pass over the leg
Patada - Kick
A Passing kick, Kicking in between the legs, sometimes called and
Pausa - Pause
Waiting for a count over more that two strong beats.
Pecho - Chest
Picado - Foot
A flick of the foot. Taps
Pierna - Leg
Piernazo - High
The Lady takes the leg and wraps it around the leaders waist. High Leg
wrap, can be combined with lustrada or pica adornos.
Overall look and aesthetics of the dancer. Grooming and style.
Pisar - Step
Palanca - Lever and Plank
Assisting the woman to do a lift by providing leverage for her to jump.
Planeo - Plane
A move where the follower goes around on a molinete while pulling the
leader around with his embelishment foot pointed out and standing with
a bent knee on his supporting leg. It resembles a plane tool shaving
A woman who spends the whole night sitting and waiting to be asked by a
male dancer but is never asked. the woman will rather go home and tell
her friends the next day she stayed at home doing the ironing rather
than tell her friends she had a bad night out at a milonga.
Porteno - Port
A local person who lives in the port city of Buenos Aires.
Postura - Posture
The Posture of the Tango is having the head upright, the spine straight
and knees slightly bent. The arms should come together in an A-Frame,
Sholders level and leaders arm pulled back slightly acoomodating the
follower. The follwers posture should have
Practica is an environment where people can go to refine their dancing
skills. Traditionally, practicas were places with only men. The men
would talk politics and develop themselves by dancing with each
other until they got good enough. Men were not allowed to dance with
women at milongas until they were up to scratch. So the men would have
to attend practicas until they developed themselves. usually the
beginner men would dance as a woman to get the feeling of the tango.
Once a man wa ready he was then initiated by a respectable tanguero and
may ask his female friends to dance with his protegee.
Punto - Point
Toe tapping with the free leg.
Puente - Bridge
A move where the lady inclines on the leader lifting her leg up on the
side of him.
When the music stops, it is a good time to twist the body and pause to
show the corte cut.
Rabona - Play
Letting the free leg cruzada around the supporting leg repeately.
Closing a phrase of music with a distinct close and weightshift. The
last three steps of the academic 8-basic involves a forward walk, side
and close at end of phrase. Resolution ends the phrase ready for the
next phrase to be interpreted.
Ritmo - Rhythm
Rhythm of the Music
Rodillas - Knees
Ronda - Round
The outer perimeter of the dance floor, the closest to the outside.
People progress up the line of dance. The ronda is the outer lane which
is sought after by afficianados. The expert dancers want to go as close
to the egde as possible given them a longer running trajectory and
higher visibility. Using key points on the line of dance to embelish
Rulo - Round,
Drawing a circle with the foot. The circle can be localised to the
ankle or a pivot on the knee, to a full pivot on the hip and thigh.
This embelishment can be done slow or fast and with varying spirals.
Sacada - Cicada
Displacements of the followers leg using the leaders leg inserted
between on the off counts.
A special figure invented by "Steduardo Salichichadarre". A very cocky
move. Involving ripping off someone elses website content completely
word for word. The figure comprises of a series of cadencias executed
in a row.
Salida - Rising,
The first opening steps. Usually referred to as the basic 8-step.
Salida contains a opening, Walking to the cross and the resolution.
Saltito - Small
Doing a small hop off the floor.
Saltada - Breaking frame
Breaking the frame so the lady can execute moves on her own. Triple
gancho figure uses it. where she giros around to complete the other two.
The leader catching the followers foot between his feet resulting in a
sandwich of the followers foot. This is sometimes called a mordida
Tiny steps done consecutively together.
Seguir - Follow
The art of the follower listening to the leaders marca.
Sitting, Seat, Chair
A move where the leader presents the thigh as a seat for the follower
to sit into.
Holding back a beat then executing it faster. Half walks and waiting
walks to hold and switch between crossed and parallel system.
Stork - Stork,
Having one foot balanced o the ground with the free leg tucked behind
the supporting leg. like a flammenco bird.
Tanda - Set of
A set of 3-4 Tango songs played during a milonga which is divided by a
curtain (cortina). Each set of songs have a commonality.
Someone who is passionate about Tango.
Tijera - Scissors
Closing the feet in a crossed position in a floating cruzada.
Toque - Touch
When a lady just touches the leaders leg, sometimes done during a
Truco - Tricks
Show moves, Stunts. acrobatics and circus moves. Strays away from
authentic traditional tango.
Tango with a 3/4 timing signature. Gives the music a distinctly swaying
rocking boat feel.
Vareado - Stick
A prized tango dancer who flirts with women and is not serious about
entering into long term relationships with any of them. May be used to
denote a clumsy and inconsiderate leader too.
Vibora - Viper,
A move where the leader leads to consecutive sacadas with his right leg.
Volcada - Volcano
A move whereby the lady capsizes into an piled on (apilado) position
and ochos are lead extending drawn motions with her free foot. The foot
is then crossed over to allow the other leg to be freed for another
drawn out rulo.
Voleo - Volley
Yumba - Staccato
The sound of a sharp staccato accent in music. Signature of Osvaldo
Puguliese song "La Yumba".
Closing and stamping the feet
Stomping with the shoe. A very strong movement indicating a end or
Zarandeo - Shaking
Quick swings back and forth with small pivoting of the foot.
Followers doing forward ochos in a diagonal direction towards the
leader, while the leader take back ochos away from the follower in the
diagonal direction. Or vice versa as the leader takes forward ochos
diagonally and the follower takes back ochos away from the leader