Tango Terms

Dancers will frequently come across Tango Terms, especially in the early days in their Classes
Here are some of the more commonly used terms


literally “piled up”.  A more extreme form of the Milonguero style where the woman leans further forward against the man


(from barrer, to sweep away)  Also called llevada.  A sweeping motion.  One partner’s foot sweeps the other’s foot


the traditional way of asking a lady to dance.  This is very elegant and can be a face saver.  Rather than approach the lady and ask  her direcctly, the man keeps his distance and tries to establish eye contact.  If she looks away it’s “no thank you” but if she wishes to accept the invitation she returns his eye contact,  perhaps with a gentle nod and smile.  He can then approach and she will stand to join him


means “cut”.  Often used to indicate that a step is interrupted and the direction reversed, as in Ocho Cortado


literally “Curtain” –  a short interlude of non-dancing music between Tandas


a hook where a dancer’s leg hooks under the leg of partner.  Considered inappropriate for crowded salon tango


pronounced “hero”.  A Turn.  Can be done either direction, combining elements of the Ocho and side steps


literally “Pencil”.  A circular figure executed with one foot drawing on the floor


1.  The music of a dance that preceded the Tango, usually in 2/4 time, quicker and more upbeat than Tango, based on the Habanera rhythm

2.  A Tango Ball or Dance event, ie. where people go to dance tango socially


1.  One who frequents milongas

2.  Tango enthusiasts from the 1940?s and 50?s

3. A style of dancing from that period, adapted to dancing in crowded halls, in a close embrace with both partners forwards leaning slightly on to each other


literally “Eights”. Pivoting forward or backward with the feet together during the pivot and extended during the step


a Stop or Block by placing a foot against the partners foot


an informal dance session, distinct from a Milonga, for the purpose of practising


to displace your partner’s weight by moving your partner’s leg out of the way gently with your own


literally “Exit”.  Originally it referred to stepping outside one’s partner.  Now it has come to mean the the basic eight pattern often taught as a sequence.  We never teach the Basic Eight as it fixes a pattern in the dancers’ minds which they later find it difficult to escape from.  We positively discourage the first backward step, as it is thoughtless to other and potentially dangerous – especially at a crowded Milonga


a style of dancing for the milonga or small club, similar but less extreme than the Milonguero style


three or four dances grouped together into a set of a similar style of music – speed, rhythm, composer etc.


Waltz. The Argentine Vals as danced at Milongas is in triple time but usually faster than the European waltz tempo. A direct descendent of the Polka, it is easier to think of it as ‘one in a bar’ rather than three


© Tango Nomads, 2017