La Milonguera - Home page
A world of Tango


Useful Tango Terms

  • Practica: The term ‘practica’ signifies exactly what it sounds like—a practice session. This is a time when people have the opportunity to work on steps they have learned in classes and workshops. Often there is a teacher or other students around to answer questions about a particular step. During a practica, it is perfectly acceptable to stop on the floor and talk through a step. This should never be done during a milonga, where the purpose is just to dance and have a good time.
  • Milonga: the term “Milonga” has two meanings. First: it is a name for a social dance party. Second: it is a specific type of music, a close relative and predecessor to the tango known by its steady rhythm.
  • Tanda: a tanda is a group of songs in one particular style usually performed by one orchestra. It allows the dancers to get into the feeling of the music with their partner for more than one dance. Traditionally, people will dance the entire tanda with the same partner.
  • Cortina: in Buenos Aires, a cortina is always a short piece of non-tango, or even non-danceable, music played to signal the end of a tanda. This music acts as the cue for escorting the woman back to her seat.

Quick Reference for Tango Steps

  • Salida: Referred to also as the basic step.
  • Ocho adelante (forward ocho): Figure where the lady describes a number 8 on the floor by combining a front step, a pivot and another front step...
  • Ocho atras (backward ocho): Same concept as the Forward Ocho, but with the lady using back steps in place of the front steps.
  • Giro (or molinete): This is the Tango turn. It can be lead clockwise or counterclockwise and traditionally does not include under-arm turns.
  • Gancho: Step where either the man or the woman hooks the partner's leg with their own leg.
  • Voleo (or Boleo): Step where the lady raises her leg while pivoting creating something resembling a fan.
  • Barrida: It literally means "sweep". In this step the leader leads a sweep by moving the lady's feet with his own foot.
  • Sacada:Step where the man (or the lady) occupy the partner's space by stepping between his/her legs.

Comprehensive Reference for Tango Steps and Sequences

  • Have fun with tango
    If you like an analysis of tango moves and don't mind reading foot charts, check this website out! Lots of different steps and sequences for levels beginner through advanced.
Last updated on June 23, 2005
Copyright © 2003, Purdue University, all rights reserved.
An equal access/equal opportunity university.
Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907 USA
Purdue University Home Page