How to Do the Basic Tango Step

By Kim Nunley
The basic tango step begins with the walk sequence.

The basic tango step consists of two separate sequences, including the walk and the tango close. You’ll need to learn the order of the steps, as well as the cadence at which the steps are performed. Begin by mastering the basic step by practicing the two sequences alone and then advance on to practicing the moves with a partner.

Partner Positioning

Both partners begin by facing each other. Partner one, or the leading partner, traditionally performed by a male, wraps his right hand around his partner’s waist and places it gently against the center of her back, just below the shoulder blades. Partner two wraps her left arm around the waist of her partner and positions her hand at the center of his back. Partner one raises his left hand, while partner two raises her right hand to meet her partner’s. Both partners should keep their torsos erect and hold their chest and head high.

The Walk

The basic tango step begins with the walk sequence, which consists of two slow steps. Both partners begin embraced and with their feet in a closed, or square, position. Then, partner one, the leader, steps forward, first with his left, then with his right. Partner two steps to move with partner one, stepping back first with her right foot, then with her left. When stepping, both partners keep their knees slightly bent so that their heads and shoulders stay steady throughout the entire move.

The Tango Close

After the two slow steps, partners perform the tango close, which consists of two quick steps and one slow step. Partner one, the leader, slowly steps forward one last time with his left foot while partner two simultaneously slowly steps backward with her right foot. From this position, partner one pushes off his left foot for a quick step to the right with his right foot. Partner two pushes off her right foot for a quick step to the left with her left foot. Partner one then slowly drags his left foot to the side of his right foot and partner two slowly drags her right foot to the side of her left foot so that both partners finish the step in a closed, or square, position. After the tango close is completed, the partners move right into the walk to perform the next tango step.

Step Cadence

The five steps that make up the walk and tango close of the basic tango step are done at a specific cadence. The pacing of the five steps should be as follows: slow, slow, quick, quick, slow. The first two steps that make up the walk are done slowly. The three steps that make up the tango close feature two quick steps and one slow step. The slow steps take up two counts of a measure, while the quick steps take up one count. As a result, the entire basic step makes up a total of eight counts, or beats. While learning, it’s okay to repeat the slow, slow, quick, quick, slow cadence while performing the steps to help with timing.

About the Author

Kim Nunley has been screenwriting and working as an online health and fitness writer since 2005. She’s had multiple short screenplays produced and her feature scripts have placed at the Austin Film Festival. Prior to writing full-time, she worked as a strength coach, athletic coach and college instructor. She holds a master's degree in kinesiology from California State University, Fullerton.