Ghost Guide To Tango: Ochos


Eights / figure of eights

Definition: A crossing and pivoting figure. Executed as a walking step with flexed knees and feet together while pivoting, ochos may be danced either forward or backward and are so designated from the lady's perspective. El Ocho is considered to be one of the oldest steps in tango along with caminada, the walking steps. It dates from the era when women wore floor length skirts with full petticoats and danced on dirt floors. Since the lady's footwork could not be directly observed the quality of her dancing was judged by the figure she left behind in the dirt after she danced away.

Forward ocho


Sidestep right

Or go to cross - NB if go in cross system can block with left foot and use it to sacada as she steps forward.

Or mess up a cross. Sidestep, step her back 2 steps then turn her to front ocho to left instead of crossing.

Close embrace ochos

Sidestep left to lady sandwich lead's right foot. Lead pivots clockwise to pre-lead a front ocho or anti-clockwise to pre-lead a back ocho.

Follow leans slightly towards leader. She's crossing her steps rather than pivoting

Rather than the leader diagonally following the follow as she does b ochos, he can step in a "forward left, collect, sidestep right" pattern

Can also lead boleos in close embrace. Likewise can lead f ochos, provided the lead keep stepping back wards to clear a path for her feet.

Ocho cortada

"Cut" ochos.

Technique After sidestep double time for 3 steps

When you bring her into side can keep her feet still and move her from side to side double time. Lead can adorn by tapping the inside of her feet as she shifts from side to side.

Don't have to finish out into a cross

Can be done in close embrace


To lead: "Torso rotation works best, if it does not take place using the centre of the body as the hub of the wheel, but uses the opposite shoulder to the side of an ocho. Imagine the lead's torso and right shoulder as a door hinged on my left shoulder. If I want to make the follow feel free to step to the right I need to open the door for her" ~ A Passion for Tango.

"The forward ocho is usually a circular movement, whereas the backwards ocho is a linear one. It is quite easy to lead a forward ocho around one static leader axis, but most uncomfortable for a follower to try a backward ocho is the leader does not step to accompany her" ~ Passion for Tango.

Draconic - Tension is gathered and released in the waist - Rather than step - stop - pivot - stop - step. It's a continuous movement. Sidestep as if stepping around a boulder and use an impulse on the final part of the side step to put "English" on pivots. Comes from the leading side like an asymmetrical "push". Effectively the follow is the "boulder". The impulse is a circular action like adding a "hook" shape to the arc of the sidestep. Lead offsets slightly to her outside as he steps left and right. The more the lead "surrounds" her the further she will turn on the pivots - George Garcia

Remember to stay heart-to-heart, even in back ochos part

Keep her head to lead's right when preceding shift to close embrace.

  • At salon speed - step, pivot - on axis
  • At vals speed - step and pivot - axis slightly tilted inwards towards centre of ocho
  • At milonga speed - step and step - axis titled onto lead.

Good to practice with lead's hands behind his back

Can under or over-turn. Ideally underturn back ochos and over turn front ochos

Ochos are a pain to get out of standardly. Easiest to chain to something else. If you can't then you signal then end of ochos by shifting your hand to lower down her back.

NB Follow has a slight contradiction in the pivots in that he has to bend her knees for balance which lowers her and then bend her ankles to come on her toes more to bring her back up.

 - Christopher O'Shea