Ghost Guide To Tango: Walking


This article is the first of a series, exploring various aspects of dancing tango. Once these articles have all been created, we will collate them, revise them, and organise them into a general guide.

This article discusses the topic of "walking".

Leading steps

Project from your chest.

Rotate chest slightly as you take forward steps to the side of the leg the leader is stepping with - the lead is kind of putting his leading knee under his opposite elbow - the follow should also rotate her chest to try and stay in front of you. You end up doing somewhat of a snake pattern rather than walking robot style in a a straight line.

If leading three consecutive steps forwards, it's one continuous lead, not three sequential leads.

General Technique

The power in the step comes from the trailing foot pushing off - it is similar to the pushing off action in skating.

Make steps "definite" rather than "shufflely".

You can add foot taps on steps - adornments. Also useful to show when to do stealth weight changes / or moves when you need to get slightly ahead - for example, sacadas

At the point where you've stepped off your trailing foot as much as possible - this is your "tallest" moment - more or an energy / charisma thing

"Make love to the floor" - keep caressing it with your feet. Useful to try and feel the slats of the floor through the soles of your shoes. You can also practice dancing on two pieces of kitchen roll.

Keep your thighs together as much as possible and brushing past each other. Can bring thighs together at beginning of sidestep. Can also think of it as collecting at the knees.

Avoid the "wet knickers look" by straightening out your legs.

Foot movement is like "striking a match" along the floor

There may be some up and down motion, but it's smooth like a sine wave ~~~~~~~~ and not jerky bobbing \/\/\/, or a sudden dip into a gentle incline up \___----. Also a feeling of projecting "Up" from / through the chest as you step rather than "down and then up".

Dance heart to heart

Make "S" shape with walks, but feet stay on either side of an imaginary line - they don't cross it.

Both make "s" shape around each other. Movement comes from the shoulders

The slower the music, the longer the steps and the more technique you use

At end of step add a tiny loop to redirect movement into next step. IF stationary do a tiny loop in the opposite way you want to go first. The woman is providing a certain degree of resistance through her frame and that's what's powers the initial beginning of the lead. It's almost like you let her lead you into the step.

Stepping sideways

Keep inside edge of foot along floor. Trying to get arch of foot parallel with floor (impossible but hey). "Walking around a boulder" results in the leader angling his body slightly in the direction he's just come

Foot moves to side and heart is moved back over it.

Stepping forwards

Knee leads step onto a straight leg. Concentrate on this leg supporting UP. Rear leg straightens. As trailing leg comes into collect, trailing leg goes into the hip slightly (hip abductor) both legs soften. Front leg ankle flexes to offset loss of height. Rear leg is brought in by twisting hips rather than moving foot cf enrosque / ochos action of the head then shoulders turning to face side of forward foot. Also allows for really smooth pivots.

Stepping backwards

Foot moves behind and Centre Of Gravity is moved back over it.

Keep weight forwards

Don't "sickle" foot

At end of step can scoot foot a bit further

Vals / Milonga

Vals - Vals is continuous and very circular. 3/4. Crosses can be useful where the cross is on the split beat. Sandwiches are not a good idea in vals.

Milonga - hesitations can be more naturally swapped for steps. Take smaller steps. It's much easier if the leader is offset to the left of the follower. Milonga is 2/4 time you generally do not stop. If cannot progress you rock or balanceo out steps.


Bend knees. Come up onto toes to prevent losing height. Keep both feet touching the ground for balance. Sequence is usually head, shoulders, chest, waist, hips. knees. Keep knees together. Use the inside - outside part of trailing foot as if walking

Generally keep knees and ankles together unless doing some kind of ronde.

Only use the actual energy you need so you don't have to kill it at the end of the pivot

Stealth weight changes

Basically taking two steps per beat to her one.

1. Can take them near the end after she's committed to her step.

2. Can take them at the beginning by collecting into a 90 degree pivot and stepping out on the other foot.

3. Can hook my trailing foot behind my front foot as I collect and step out with front foot

4. When her legs are apart

Leading steps vs leading weight changes

You can differentiate between leading a weight change, and leading a step. And the good news is that it works on side, forward and back steps. The trick is to use the "Up over and down" version for a change of weight, and the inverse ("down, under and up") version for a step.

Note: bear in mind that this is a tiny motion, the smaller the better, as long as you can clearly differentiate the two movements.

 - Christopher O'Shea