How to Dance Ballroom Tango Step by Step

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Ballroom Tango, while similar to traditional Argentine Tango, has some specific steps and techniques that are unique.

If you’re new to ballroom tango or just want to brush up on your technique, this guide is for you!

In it, we’ll cover the basics of ballroom tango dance steps and how to execute them correctly. You’ll be dancing like a pro in no time by following these tips!

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How to Dance Ballroom Tango Step by Step

1. Get your dance shoes: 

The first thing you’ll need to do is get yourself a good pair of dance shoes. 

You don’t want to wear sneakers or anything else that isn’t meant for dancing. 

There are plenty of great places online where you can find quality dance shoes at an affordable price. 

Once you have your shoes, it’s time to move on to step two!

2. Find a dance partner: 

The next step is finding someone willing to be your dance partner. 

If you don’t have anyone in mind, ask a friend or family member if they would be interested in learning how to ballroom tango with you. 

Once you have found someone also interested in learning, it’s time to move on to the next step!

3. Learn the basic steps of ballroom tango: 

Before you start learning the actual steps of the ballroom tango, you and your partner must know the basic positions and footwork involved in the dance. 

Once you understand the basics well, you can start learning the actual steps of the ballroom tango.

4. Practice the basic steps until you have them down pat: 

You and your partner must practice them until you have them down perfectly. 

This means dancing together regularly and practicing as much as possible. The more you practice, the better you’ll get at dancing ballroom tango!

5. Add some styling and flair to your dancing: 

Once you’re comfortable with the basic steps of ballroom tango, it’s time to start adding your own style and flair to your dancing. 

This makes ballroom tango so much fun – there are no rules about what looks good or doesn’t. 

Just let your creative juices flow and go with whatever feels natural! Unless you’re competing, then that’s a different story.

6. Take lessons from a professional dance instructor: 

If you really want to take your ballroom tango skills to the next level, we recommend taking some lessons from a professional dance instructor. 

They’ll be able to teach you all sorts of advanced steps and help perfect your technique.

7. Practice, practice, practice!: 

The most important tip of all when it comes to learning how to ballroom tango is simply to practice as much as possible! 

The more time you spend practicing, the better you’ll become at this beautiful dance. 

So put on your dancing shoes and get out there – happy dancing!

Characteristics of the Tango

ballroom dance teacher certification for beginners (1)

The tango has a close hold with a low center of gravity.

The man will have his right arm lower on the lady’s back than in other smooth ballroom dances, and it is also further around the back.

His left arm should be bent at a ninety-degree angle close to the lady, and she takes his hand.

The lady’s left hand should be behind her back and below the man’s upper right arm.

The tango has a walking motion but has a sneaking or stalking characteristic, with stealthy cat-like steps that are full of drama and purpose.

The movements vary from slow and subtle to sharp and quick.

The head snap is another feature.

The tango shares the counter-clockwise movement of other ballroom dances, but it is more dramatic and defined.

Basic Tango Steps

basic tango steps

When you first start the tango, you will learn the basic steps.

It is made up of five steps done to eight counts of music.

You will follow the slow-slow-quick-quick-slow rhythm, where each slow step takes two beats while the quick steps take one beat of the music.

The music itself is written in 4/4 time, so the pattern will extend for two sets of this time.

The position is closed, and you will stand closer than in other ballroom dances.

The man will hold the lady’s right hand with his left hand, and his right hand will go on her back at the bottom of her ribcage.

The lady will place her left hand on the man’s right shoulder, and both partners will have their knees bent.

The partners’ steps should mirror each other.

The man will follow this pattern moving forwards:

  • Left foot forward (slow)
  • Right foot forward, further than left (slow)
  • Left foot forward, further than the right (quick)
  • Right foot forward and to the right (quick)
  • Left food alongside right (slow)

The lady will mirror these steps, moving backward as follows:

  • Right foot back (slow)
  • Left foot back, further than right (slow)
  • Right foot back, further than left (quick)
  • Left foot back and to the left (quick)
  • Right foot alongside left (slow)

The steps should be stealthy and cat-like, and very definite.

When you move, you will step on the toe first, lowering your heel as you move your body forward over the foot.

Side steps are normally done on the ball of the foot or the whole foot.

You will not rise and fall in the tango; your body should remain at the same elevation throughout the moves.

You will move gradually to the left in a counter-clockwise circle when you tango.

You should pick your feet up and place them down in a quick, staccato action. Your knees are bent throughout the entire dance.

How to Dance Ballroom Tango: Other Versions

how to dance tango other versions

Once you master the basic steps, there are variations that you can do.

The 6-count tango is the same dance without the final close.

Instead, you continue moving forward.

The 16-count is two 6-count patterns followed by a 4-count close.

You can find many different variations that are a lot of fun once you master the basic steps.

One fun move that you can learn early on is the back Corte.

In this move, the man will lean back on his left leg in almost a backward lunge; the lady will lean into him and bend her back over his arm.

She will lean back with her head, neck, and shoulders, almost like she is doing a backbend.

The Promenade

the promenade tango

The man and the lady will travel in the same direction for the promenade.

There are different promenade forms, but the most popular is the left swivel.

The man and the lady will walk forward for two steps, and at the end of the second step, the man leads the lady to swivel left on her left foot, which returns her to the closed position.

They will then proceed with the basic tango steps from the closed position.

They call the shape a “V” shape because each partner is turned slightly toward the other in the shape of a V during the promenade.

They should look forward in the direction that they are traveling.

The promenade with a right turn is another variation, where the man will turn to the right close to the lady.

This is a more gradual turn, and the partners will proceed with the basic tango steps after.

How to Dance Ballroom Tango Summary

The tango is a dramatic, fiery dance that is derived from the Argentine tango.

It features head snaps, sharp movements, and cat-like steps in 4/4 time with a marching rhythm.

Tango comes from the slums of Buenos Aires in the late 19th century.

Gauchos and prostitutes enjoyed this passionate dance, and high society shunned it.

However, the music and dance brought people together and united people from many different cultures.

Men took pride in becoming accomplished dancers because there was a shortage of women, and the women wanted to dance with the best dancers.

In the 1900s, the tango gained popularity in Europe and in France in particular.

It became popular in New York from 1910 to 1911, and there were several tango dance halls opened up.

In 1921, Rudolph Valentino performed the tango in a silent film, which was a hit.

The American tango takes the best parts of the different tango styles, including Argentine, French, Gaucho, and International.

The tango is a lot of fun, and people enjoy it as a dramatic, fiery dance.

The basic steps aren’t hard to learn, and you can add in promenades and other fun moves as you gain experience.

Start by mastering the basics; it will be easy to add more advanced steps.

We hope that this blog post has helped teach you the basics of how to ballroom tango!

Remember, just like anything else in life, practice makes perfect, so don’t be discouraged if things aren’t going perfectly at first – keep at it, and eventually, you’ll be a pro! Thanks for reading, and happy dancing!

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