TANGO LINGOES: TERMS, JARGONS, and LINGOES IN DANCING
Tango Lingoes: Terms, Jargons, Lingoes and Slangs (lunfardo)
It can be frustrating trying to understand certain terms, jargons and lingoes.
But if a dancer can speak the lingoes of dancing, (s)he can sound so much more
Below are commonly used terms, jargons, lingoes and slangs, especially for
the dance Tango:
To the side.
A drag. E.g., to drag your partner's foot with your own.
The embrace, as in dance hold.
(from amagar, To feint, to make a threatening motion.)
An amague is used as an embellishment, usually a flick of the
foot done before taking a step. It may also be a frappe,
a beat done with the foot before taking a step.
Shall we dance? This is more commonly said than a complete, formal
sentence, like "Quisiero bailar contigo" (I would like to dance with you).
Also, you sometimes hear "Quieres bailar?" (would you like to dance?).
(from barre, To sweep away.) Sweeping your partner's foot with
your own. Also called llevada.
A neighborhood in an Argentine city.
(from bolear, a type of throwing/swiveling that gauchos
do with the boleadoras (a rope with balls at the end of it)
in order to tumble down the cattle.) An ornament. Throwing or swiveling one
leg with the knees locked together, usually one behind the other.
A boleo may be done with the toe touching the floor or higher.
Chain. A movement of two people across the floor in a circular motion. One
partner displaces the other partners leg and rolls across the front of their
body. The other partner continues the motion. Must be seen to be appreciated.
A type of dance done by the descendants of black slaves in Argentina. A
type of tango music with a marked rhythm played on a drum. The place
where blacks went to dance (synonymous with 'milonga').
An older style of tango.
A running step used in milonga, a series of small steps in double-time.
Corte Cut. Corte means cutting the music either by syncopating or
stopping for a moment, taking something away from the principal move.
Opposite of Firuletes.
The cross. Crossing one foot in front or in back of the other.
The fingers, toes.
displacement-Displacing a partner's foot or leg using your own foot or
A drawing or sketch. A dibujo is done by drawing circles or other
small movements on the floor with the toe.
The axis (of the body).
Hooking or coupling, wrapping your leg around your partner's leg.
From enroscar, to coil, twist, or screw. To spin on one foot
while hooking the other foot behind, usually while the woman is
executing a molinete.
A style of tango for the stage characterized by large sweeping moves,
and often many ganchos. Considered inappropriate in a small club or salon.
Pay close attention to.
A hook. Used primarily on stage, considered inappropriate for salon tango.
Turn. When the woman is doing a molinete, the man walks in a circle to his
right or left (can be done either direction), sometimes turning sharply,
sometimes slowly. One of the basic walking patterns.
To guide, also to lead.
From juntar to join together, as in one's feet or knees.
Pencil. A circular figure executed with one foot drawing on the floor.
From llevar to carry. Similar to a barrida. The man can move
the woman's foot with his own, carrying it off the floor or across the
The lead. From marquar, to lead.
1) The music of a dance that preceeded the tango, usually in 2/4 time,
quicker and more upbeat than tango.
2) A dance, where people go to
dance tango and milonga.
An older tango dancer, one who frequented the milongas during the 1940s
and 50s. May also describe a style of dancing during that period.
Little windmill. When the follower moves in a circle around the leader,
doing a footwork resembling forward and backward ochos.
Bite. One partner's foot is sandwiched between the other partner's feet.
Eights. Pivoting forward or backward with the feet together during the
pivot and extended during the step.
The outskirts of the city, suburban.
A style of dancing from the suburbs characterized by the man doing many
quick, syncopated foot moves.
Una pregunta, por favor
A question, please.
Break. The woman is standing on one foot, often hanging her weight on
the man. The other foot is relaxed, often slightly raised with the toe
touching the floor.
Fast. Usually heard "mas rapido".
Resolution. An ending to a basic pattern.
A displacement of the feet.
A start, or a run. The beginning of a pattern.
The beginning of a pattern with a cross, stepping side left
crossing right foot behind left or side right crossing left foot behind right.
A style of dancing for the milonga or small club, as opposed to
stage tango (see Fantasia).
A sitting move, the woman sits on her partner's bent leg or waist.
A displacement, to move your partner's leg out of the way gently with
Fastened, a lock step. The step that the woman takes when the man
steps outisde his partner with his
right foot and then straight forward left, together right. At this point
the woman crosses and this cross is
referred to as trabada.