Tango Notes: Walking (Caminata)

Tango walking should look like dancing, not ordinary walking. The notes below have links to videos which explain and demonstrate elements that turn your walking into dancing:

For both leader and follower
  • Posture. The knees must be "soft" (slightly bent) with weight on balls of the feet.
  • Don't lean back. In close embrace the chest should be slightly forward.
  • Smooth and level. Avoid bouncing, loping, etc.
  • Don't scrape feet on floor. Altho feet should be close to floor and even appear to slide on the floor, they should not make any sliding sound.
For the leader
  • Lead with the chest. The feet don't lead; the chest does the leading.
  • Foot dynamics. A common way to style a forward step is to drag the toe of the shoe until it is even with, and close to, the standing foot and then accelerate to finish the step. This change in speed looks dramatic, but many steps are made without it.
  • Toe or heel first? Both are acceptable. See below.
For the follower
  • Walk backwards from the hip with a long reach.
  • Don't lean back. Keep chest forward and slightly lifted as leg reaches down and back.

Foot placement - heel, toe, flat?

Should the leader's forward step should be toe-first or heel-first? There is no general agreement on this; some instructors and good dancers prefer one way and some the other. Even with a preference, dancers use both as appropriate for a move. The following quote from Tango - Wikipedia says.

In Tango from the River Plata, Uruguay and Argentina, the ball or toe of the foot may be placed first. Alternatively, the dancer may take the floor with the entire foot in a cat-like manner. In the International style of Tango, "heel leads" (stepping first onto the heel, then the whole foot) are used for forward steps.


Argentine Tango - Walking 23:00
Dave and Stephanie's instruction on walking.
How to Walk Elegantly in the Tango Close Embrace 9:00 Sep 4, 2018
By Anne and Pable of Tango Space.
Tango Lessons: #1 The Posture 13:39
By Pocho Pizarro. This exercise has several important aspects - all incorporated into "walking".
  1. Dissociation. The angle of the shoulders and the angle of the hips are often turned at substantially different angles. This exercise should make you feel a little more comfortable with that.
  2. Feet pass close. The feet/ankles should pass close to each other when taking a step. Crossing over the line makes that easy to get used to.
  3. Balance. Turning the toe out, instead of straight ahead, provides more balance.
  4. Toe-first? This is definitely in the toe first camp. If you're already a heel first person, you can practice this, but you don't have to change.
Caminata, Argentine tango lesson (2014 Riga Tango Fiesta, LV) 2:27
By Sebastián Achaval & Roxana Suarez. This is great demo of graceful tango walking (caminata). Uses both heel-first and toe-first styles.
Heel or toes? That is the question ... - Mini Practice (39)
Should the leader step forward touching the floor heel-first or toe-first.

Parallel and Cross System Walking

See Walking in Cross System.