Ghost Guide To Tango: Introduction

"He did not intend it to be a 'how-to' book or a 'learn kung-fu in 10 lessons'. He intended it as a record of one man's way of thinking and as a guide, not a set of instructions. If you can read it in this light, there is much to be aware of on these pages. And probably you will have many questions, the answers to which you must seek within yourself. When you have finished this book, you will know Bruce Lee better, but hopefully you will also know yourself better. Now open your mind and read, understand and experience, and when you have reached that point, discard the book. The pages are best used for cleaning up a mess -- as you will see."
- Linda Lee, The Tao of Jeet Kune Do.

So what is it exactly?

Originally during or after each tango lesson I'd write down the technical advice the teachers had given. There are a huge number of sequences taught in tango, so I just kept the ones that helped get me into the right dynamics to do a certain concept, eg a boleo, on the greatest number of followers. I've also added ideas from other sources such as books and dvds.

Then a few months ago I was talking with David about how annoying it is that tango teachers only give you the technical information in bits and pieces. This gave me the idea to put the Guide on his website. If nothing else it may help other dancers with their tango and if they wanted to contribute their pieces of technical advice we'd all benefit. Please email any technical advice to David at

As to what it will become that remains to be seen. I'm going to add illustrations to make the move descriptions clearer.

What it isn't

  • It's not a Beginners Guide - if you don't know what a boleo is, you probably still won't know after you've read the section on boleos. Text is a terrible medium for teaching subtle physical concepts. You really need a teacher to show you in the Real World. Try the "Getting Started" Section for now.
  • It's not "Ghost's Black Book of 1,000 Moves" either - however if you're looking for 1,000 tango moves try
  • It's also not complete - my personal version continues to present day, the website version stops about March 2008. Simply put I only wanted to put up things I've done in freestyle to try and minimise misunderstanding what teachers have said. I hope to update it again in a year's time.

So how do I use it then?

First, learn some tango :)

Then choose one of the chapters. First of all look at the Principle; most likely your teacher begins the lesson asking "Does anyone know what xyz means?". The aim of the Guide is to get to the point where you can freely apply any of the principles at any point in time allowing you to dance one step at a time, rather than relying on sequences.

Now have a look at the technical advice - tick off the ones that you know. Now look at the others - some will make more sense than others. Try them out at a Practica or with your Dance Partner. Consider asking your teacher about some of the one's you don't know, eg "What's a illusionary barrida?".

Add your own notes to it. I find it useful if I want to work on a concept to have all the ideas together, rather than searching my memory and making the same mistakes over and over...

The Sequences

OK, a few important points:
  • the ones that are named after teachers are done so by me purely to help me remember them. As far as I'm aware no teachers are actually calling moves after themselves, though I have heard a teacher describe a move as "This is the way Homer does it".
  • Secondly I view sequences as stabilisers on a bike - they're good while you're learning but sooner or later you want to get rid of them. Some of the sequences you'll recognize from the text description. I am going to do animations, but it'll take a while so check back on a chapter if you really want to know what the heck a Scorpion Volcada is. Some you won't - that's fine. These sequences fit my style of leading and my body mechanics. When you're taught a sequence that you find sets you up perfectly to do a back sacada or whatever, use that instead.
  • From a Sidestep Left: This is the next step after sequences - can you do the concept only using a sidestep left? Again I've just given an example of how it can be done - explore and find your own.
  • Remember Ghosts don't exist, so clearly this work is nothing more than a figment and should be treated as such.

"The pages are best used for cleaning up a mess -- as you will see."
- Linda Lee, The Tao of Jeet Kune Do.

 - Christopher O'Shea