Tango Tribu

Tango Basic Step

Yes, we know Tango is the dance of passion and allure, and we also know that it originated from the vibrant streets of Buenos Aires, Argentina. Its enchanting rhythm and seductive moves have enraptured dancers and audiences worldwide. So, what about The Basic Step?

Well, what very (very) few know, is that the Basic Step encrypts the most important information for Tango as a dance form. I mean, it’s called the “Basic Step” for a reason, right?

Let’s dig in…


The actual core of the Basic Step

The Tango Basic Step, a quintessential element of Tango, uses the structure of the Tango Turn (or Tango Giro). Now, does that make the Basic Step less basic or important? No, they’re not really comparable. While the Basic Step is a step sequence, the Tango Turn is the fundamental concept of Tango as a dance. We could say that, in order to create the Basic Step, we use 1 part of the Tango Turn and then shape it in a certain way.

Don’t worry, I will explain it for you… (even more info here)


Leg’s Positioning in Tango

Standing on our both feet, we can have our legs either crossed or not crossed. In Tango, we call those 2 positions “Cruces” and “Aperturas” (Crosses and Openings). You simply can’t escape to this fact. To force a comparison with languages: they have vowels and consonants, with which you can form words. So in Tango we have Cruces and Aperturas as the only 2 positions, and I repeat: positions!… not movements!

Now, you can not really determine if a position is a Cruce or an Apertura because, in Tango, the positions are determined by where your partner is according to you. It takes two to Tango, right? And how can you tell? Very easy: with your body weight on both feet, ask you partner to go to one of your sides. Then, without really moving much your legs and only allowing your feet to pivot, try to put your hips in front of your partner. There you have it: if your legs remain crossed, then that’s a cross position!


Unveiling the Intricacies of the Tango Basic Step

From a position to a tango step

If now we ad the movement factor, those 2 positions will become 6 steps. Because the Cross position can be a Forward Cross or a Back Cross (simply depending on the direction you’re shifting your body weight). And the Apertura will become a Side Step that can be taken with the right or left leg. So that will leave us with: Side Step, Forward Cross and Back Cross.

If you want to completely master this subject (you definitely should!), check our list of lessons among which we offer The Tango Structure (and remembering is always more convenient to get the monthly subscription… or even more convenient yet: the annual subscription)


The Tango Turn (or Tango Giro)

Every single movement in Tango (step or pivot) belongs to a piece of  turn. But, why do we call it Turn? Because is what the hips are doing. And how are her hips turning? Because the Tango Turn is actually a code, a group of movements that follow certain orden and rhythm.  Those movements are: Back Cross, Side Step, Forward Cross, Forward Pivot, Side Step and Back Pivot. You see? The Tango Turn contains all of the basic movements!

You can start with any of those movements, but once you start you have to continue with the correct next movement. In this way, the hips will be turning to achieve the next position.


The Birth of the Basic Step

Since the follower does not know what the next movement will be, she’s following the code of turning whenever is necessary. The leader, instead, he can choose which leg to move as long as the follower is doing what he’s leading.

For this reason, we analyse the Basic Step from the follower’s perspective. So the first step she will take is a Side Step with her right leg, then a Back Cross (because the leader will be on her right), then a Side Step (because the leader will remain in that side of her) and then she’ll do the famous “Cross”. Don’t get confuse: one thing is the Crosses as types of movements and a different thing is “the Cross” (or “el cruce”). When you hear “the Cross” it’s because we’re talking about the 4th movement of the Basic Step (meaning: with her left leg crossed in front of her right leg leaving her feet more or less aligned). After “The Cross” she will take a Side Step with her right leg. And that’s it.

Now, if you already know the Basic Step, you maybe thinking I’m missing 2 steps: the Side Step with follower’s left leg and the very last collecting with her right.

But those 2 last movements are simply there because they were added with choreographic purposes. The actual core of The Basic Step is the Side Steps with her right leg and the Crosses with her Right leg.

I leave you here a promo video for you to have a look on our mini course for Beginners:


The Rhythm of the Basic Step

Each combination of movements has a certain rhythm that fit them better. For the Basic Step that combination is the one every body knows, the very famous: Slow, Slow, Quick-Quick-Slow. Is this a coincidence? Certainly not! (there’s a lot more to say about it and you can get all that by joining us at TangoTribe.net)

Another frequent rhythm for The Basic Step is: Slow, Slow, Slow, Slow, Slow. This is a bit more advanced because it requires more control before “The Cross”

And, of course: once you master those initial rhythmic combinations, you can certainly explore even more difficult ones!



In essence, the Tango Basic Step serves as a gateway to the enchanting realm of Tango, inviting dancers to embark on a voyage of self-discovery, trance, and artistic expression. Through some legs technique, basic musicality, and a reverence for the Tango Embrace, dancers can unlock the transformative power of this dance form, transcending boundaries of time and space.

So, with hearts entwined and spirits ablaze, let us traverse the labyrinthine pathways of Tango, guided by the luminous beacon of the Tango Basic Step.