Tango Notes: Tango Walking (Caminata)

In tango walking should look like dancing, not just ordinary walking. These videos explain and demonstrate some of that.

Foot placement - heel, toe, flat?

A question that often arises is whether the leader's forward step should be toe-first or heel-first. Instructors and good dancers differ on this. The Traverse City Tango Club has dancers in both categories, and it doesn't seem necessary to take a purist stand on this. There are instructors who are in the toe-first camp and those in the heel-first. When you watch championship dancers, you will see both styles with individuals changing for different steps. Perhaps the most common style is stepping with a cat-like flat foot. The following quote from Tango - Wikipedia may summarize it best.

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.
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)
This is concerned with whether the leader should step forward touching the floor heel-first or toe-first.

Parallel and Cross walking

Parallel footwork is the "normal" style where the leader's left moves with the follower's left and leader's right with the follower's left. This is usually done in two tracks.

In cross footwork, the leader's left moves with the follower's left and similarly with the right feet. Walking with cross footwork is usually done in three tracks with the leader offset to either the open or closed side. It is easy to walk in a curve away from the leader if desired.

How to Do the Cross System Basic 1:47
By Howcast's Diego Blanco & Ana Padrón. Basic Eight but using the cross system from 2 to 5. This can make the Basic Eight look a little more elegant.
How to Walk in Parallel & Cross System 3:41
By Howcast's Diego Blanco & Ana Padrón. Some brief, but helpful, tips about walking in general. It then shows one way for the leader to change to cross foot and walk on the open side.
Demystifying the Cross System 4:38
By Oscar & Mary Ann Casas. Cross and parallel walking.

More advanced walking

The following video shows two cross system walking styles that are a little more difficult to do well.

  1. A weaving "snake" walk that is done cross foot in two tracks. The follower continues fairly straight back.
  2. A "skater" style where the leader walks with each foot on a different side of the follower. In the "skater" style it is essential that the leader collects the feet on each step so that they don't waddle (or wet diaper walk). The follower may do shallow back ochos.
Tango Lesson: Snake Walk Hook Behind 9:51
By Homer & Cristina Ladas. Teaches the "snake walk" and briefly demonstrates the "roller-blade" skater walk.