Walking and Rhythm Basics


Walking in Tango requires the most exceptional posture you’ve ever had. Start by standing up straight, with your chest pointed towards the ceiling. Then you’ll want to lean forward onto the balls of your feet; you should feel the heels of your feet come off the ground just slightly.

For Leads: you should start shifting their weight back and forth to indicate what foot the follow should be in. After each step, the lead should “collect” his weight, which means to bring the free foot immediately beside the foot with weight on it. As you take each step forward, you’ll want to double check that your chest is leading your body; it should always be slightly ahead of your feet. This will prevent you from stepping on the follow’s toes.

For follows: as the lead shifts his weight, follow the weight shifts and collect your weight. This means to always bring your free foot next to the planted one. As the lead begins to walk, make sure that your chest is the closest part of your body to the lead.

Walking “Inside” and “Outside”:

As you become comfortable walking, the lead should try walking to the outside of the follow on either side. The most common side is to the lead’s left, though the right is also possible. To do this, the lead should make sure that he does not alter the follow’s path. This means that the follow should feel as she is continuing to walk normally, and only the lead is changing positions.

Rhythmic Changes – Quick, Quick, Slow Walking

The most common rhythmic change in tango is “quick, quick, slow.” This is a great move when you need to cover a significant distance in a short time. There are two great ways to indicate the “quick, quick slow” rhythm. The first is to lift up slightly on the back of the follow; when the follow feels the slight lift on the shoulder blade, she shouldn’t put her feet all the way down, which will allow for easy, quick steps.

The second way to lead the “quick, quick, slow” is to lean into the walking. Leaning a little further into the walk will indicate that the follow should move more quickly, thus making the “quick, quick, slow” rhythm easy.

Rhythmic Changes – Quick, Quick, Slow Turn

When you get caught in a corner or behind a slow couple, you can use the “quick, quick, slow” rhythm to pause or turn. As the lead steps with the left foot, the lead should interrupt the follow’s step in a “rock step” motion. As the lead steps back onto his right foot, he can pivot towards the left. The lead will then step to the left with his left foot, and take a small (miniscule) step to the right. The last step should be similar to a collect – if you step all the way back to the right, you will undo a lot of the work you’ve done to turn.


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