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Tango Walk

Tango Walk is a basic Newcomer Level figure. This online reference gives a detailed description of the dance steps, including timing, footwork, alignment, and movement; steps diagram; a list of figures that may precede or follow the pattern; and videos providing instruction and demonstration of the figure, techniques and practice routines that include it.


Step Timing Movement
Alignment Footwork Turn CBM Notes
LF forward in CBMP

Outside Edge of foot
Nil Slight LF Heel in line with RF, step with outside edge of heel. foot is light turned out.
Thinking about walking around circle, feet stay on "circle tangent line".
Lift & place foot: stepping over a pencil in front of toe.
Do not get body weight too quickly to front foot, it will be too heavy for Lady.
Do not lean back either.
RF side, slightly fwd

IE Heel to IE
Right side lead, step under R shoulder, IE of Heel, Feet turned "in". Do not swing foot out to right.


 Step Timing Movement
Alignment Footwork Turn CBM
 1 S
RF back in CBMP

OE of foot
Nil slight Use CBM, step in CBMP to give Man room to put his foot.
Do not turn hip and shoulder the same amount, otherwise, it cancels CBM effect.
Keep tailbone vertical 90 to floor. Don't fall back, Keep R side to Man and R arm forward.
Think about stretching L elbow more L.
Flex the hip and turn hip to L, bend knee.
R toe in line with LF. Toe turned "in" to be on "circle tangent line".
Don't worry too much about "not crossing the line" (per the book).
Lift and place foot, do not roll or glide, also do not lift foot high. Extend legs, but do not lock knees.
There needs to be enough CBM so lady's R leg will not block Man's L leg.
LF front toe lifted (toe release) when weight is fully on RF. Then lift and place LF to step next step.
Do not take body weight back too quickly. Heel goes down as front foot passes.
After stepping RF and getting weight on RF, release L leg quickly to make room for Man, otherwise Man feels blocked.
 2 S
LF side, slightly back

IE Ball
LF turned "out" a bit. Do not make the legs too tight, step a bit to the side,  keep wider tracks to give Man enough room to step.
(Same for rock turn.) Left side leading.
Extend leg to gain more distance.
RF front toe lifted (toe release) when weight is fully on LF.
Hip rolls from R leg to L leg.
Fast release of RF and R leg to step back and prepare while body is still on the front foot; this gives more room for Man. 

Extend upper body and shape.

Technique Notes

  • There is no rise and fall in Tango.
  • The Foot:
    • Not like other swing dances, do not point your toes when stepping back. Use ball of foot.
    • Lift/pick up and place the foot, do not roll the foot, do not slide/glide across the floor as in swing dances. No swivels.
      • 90 degree rule, never place a foot so that they are turned out more than 90 degrees. It is OK to turn them in more than that, though.
      • When moving backward, think about flex ankle, lift foot flat.
      • Don't pick up foot too high. Imagine stepping foot over a pencil in front of toe and then put foot down.
    • Walk with the sort of form one would have if carrying two heavy suitcases. Extend leg to gain more distance, then move body weight, then put foot down. Do not lock knee, though.
    • Bigger steps do not mean faster steps.
    • Walk articulate knee to ankle. 
    • ISTD technique:
      • Lady: when stepping back on either foot, do toe release for front foot.
        Man: step back LF with L side lead: R heel will be released; for other back steps, do toe release.
  • Knees should be flexed when legs are together. Some coach says one should be four inches lower than our straight-legged height.
    • Tango is a staccato dance, with many quick turns. Being well grounded makes that much easier.
  • Forward Walk:
    • Articulate through knees to ankle. There is a point where body weight is middle of two feet, then back foot comes underneath you, then body doesn't get over the front foot until moving foot passes the standing leg. Do not put weight over receiving foot too quickly (lurching look).
  • Back Walk: 
    • Dividing leg, leaving body/weight at front foot, then moving body back, heel drops when body/foot is passing.
    • Extend foot, heel comes down gradually, as the other foot draws in, do not drop heel too quickly.
  • Feet are staccato, but body/spine should be moving across the floor smoothly.
  • Moving direction, alignment:
    • In closed position, the stepping foot always points in the same direction as the body. If one were to fold one's hands pointing outward at the solar plexus, even with the body in CBMP, the stepping foot is in line with those folded hands.
    • Man: In Tango Walk, LF steps in line of RF, in CBMP (not across RF). It does not point in the same direction, however, as the CBMP will have the left foot slightly turned out relative to the right foot. The right foot steps in a separate track, and, again, will be turned in relative to the left foot.
    • CBMP: do not drop shoulder, keep shoulder flat.
  • Keep posture: adjust step size, follower always stays on leader's right side.
  • Walk normally curves to L. How much curve depends on how much CBMP.
  • Type of "Slow" for Tango walk: step - hold. Walk is delayed as long as music allows.