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Basic Steps in Tango Dancing

Gauri Waikar
It takes two to tango! So, get your partner, wear your dancing shoes, and tango your way to glory. It is the easiest of all Latin dances. Some quick and easy steps to learn are given next.
Tango first originated in Buenos Aries, Argentina, in the late 19th century. At first, it was looked down upon and considered a dance only of the working class. It took many protests and a renaissance for tango to attain the position that it enjoys today.
After the World Wars, it started spreading all over the world. It was first a rage in Paris; followed by Britain and Germany. Meanwhile, many new styles were developed.
"No mistakes in the tango, darling, not like life. It's simple. That's what makes the tango so great. If you make a mistake, get all tangled up, just tango on." Perhaps these are the lines from 'Scent of a Woman' that best describe this dance form. Before moving on the dance steps, let us first see what the famous styles of this dance form are.

Famous Styles of Tango

Tango Argentino

This is the most famous form of all. The most important part of this dance is your leg movement. It is in fact popularly known as the 'war of legs'.

Ballroom Tango

This is a conservative form, which originated and evolved in Europe and America.

Tango Canyengue

This style evolved sometime in the late 1990s. This dance is very rhythmical and is very close to the original dance form.

Finnish Tango

As the name suggests, this style evolved in Finland. The music is generally slow and contains a note of melancholy.

Basics of Tango

Tango Dance Steps

The most important part of this dance is your body frame and posture. Stand straight, pull your stomach in, and drop your shoulders a little towards the back. Face your partner. Usually the man is the lead in this dance.
Now men, put your right hand on your lady's left shoulder and hold her right hand with your left, while the girls need to place their left arm, midway on the man's right arm.Remember, you just need to place the arm, and not its actual weight. Now, tilt your head back a little. This is the main posture you need to learn before trying any step.

Basic Tango step

  • You can give counts to your steps so that they fall in rhythm. The men will slowly (using 2 beats) put their left foot forward, while the women will place their right foot backwards.
  • Repeat the same step with your other leg too. Once you get your coordination correct, repeat the whole step in a single beat.
  • Now, the men will step to the right with their right foot and slide the left foot near the right one. Keep your left heel slightly up when doing so.
  • Same for the ladies, step to the left with the left foot and slide the right foot near the left one with the right heel up. If you cannot pick up the step at one go, do not lose heart. Just need some practice.


The music used in tango is quite fast. In the early days, orchestras used to accompany tango dance groups. They consisted of instruments and occasionally a vocalist. Today, this part is done by the DJs.


Like other dances, even this dance has a specific attire. Girls should choose a dress with dropwaist styling that ends with a full skirt and uneven hem. Don't shy away from wearing dark colors. This dance is an expression of inner passion. Use colors like red, orange, flashy pink, or animal prints.
The dress can be knee length or ankle length. Choose something that you are comfortable in. A simple blouse with a flashy skirt or pants is the next best option. If you are wearing skirts, you may wear stockings or stretched leggings.
Men should wear black pants with flashy shirts. You can wear a tight-fitted shirt with open collar. You can use the same type of shoes that are used for ballroom dance. Whatever clothes and accessories you choose, just be sure that you are comfortable in them.


For footwear, use sandals with medium heels. They provide your leg steps with the grace that is needed. Preferably tie your hair at the back. Avoid using jewelry, which may distract your attention during the dance.
The best way for enjoy the tango is learn it for the love of the dance. This dance is also used in the therapeutic treatment for patients suffering from mental depression. It is not only a good form of exercise for your body, but also for your mind and soul. So, amigos baile justo!