Abrazo: The embrace, to hug, or dance position.
Abrir: To open.
Al costado: To the side.
Amague: From amagar. To make a threatening motion as a feint: an amague is used as an embellishment either led or done on one's own, and may be used before taking a step. An example of an amague may be a beat (frappe) before taking a step. See cuatro.
Arrabal: The slums.
Arrabalero: A person of low social status. A person of simple and direct ways who speaks plainly and uses coarse language.
Arrastre: A drag. e.g., to drag your partner's foot with your own.
Arrepentida: Repentant, meaning to change one's mind: a family of steps which allow a couple to back away from a collision or traffic jam in a minimal amount of space and on short notice.
Bailarin: A professional or very accomplished dancer.
Bailongo: A lunfardo word to describe a place where people dance, i.e. a milonga.
Balanceo: A deep check and replace. See cadencia.
Baldosa: A walking box figure named after the black & white checkerboard tile floors which are common in buenos aires. See cuadrado.
Barrida: (From barrer, to sweep away.) Also called llevada. A sweeping motion. One partner's foot sweeps the other's foot.
Boleo: (From bolear. 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 and may be executed either high or low, keeping knees together, with one leg in back, swivel on the supporting leg.
Cabeceo: From cabeza, head: traditional technique for selecting dance partners from a distance at the milongas in Buenos Aires by using eye contact and head movements. See also codigos.
Cadena: Chain. A movement of two people across the floor in a circular motion. one partner displaces the other partner's leg and rolls across the front of their body. The other partner continues the motion. Must be seen to be appreciated.
Cadencia: A deep check and replace, usually led by the man as he steps forward left. Useful for avoiding collisions and making direction changes in small spaces. May also refer to a subtle shifting of weight from foot to foot in place and in time with the music done by the man before beginning a dance to give the lady the rhythm he intends to dance and to ensure that she will begin with him on the correct foot. See balanceo.
Caida: Fall: a step in which the man steps backward, sinks on his supporting leg, and crosses his working leg in front without weight while leading the lady to step forward in outside position, sink on her supporting leg and cross her working leg behind without weight. Caida may be done to either side.
Calecita: Carousel, the merry-go-round: a figure in which the man places the lady on one foot with a lifting action of his frame and then dances around her while keeping her centered over, and pivoting on, her supporting leg. Sometimes referred to as the stork.
Caminar: To walk. The walk is similar to a natural walking step. The body and leg must move as a unit so that the body is in balance.
Candombe: 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 black people went to dance (synonymous with 'milonga').
Cangrejo: The crab: a repetitive pattern of walking steps and or sacadas in which the man advances turned nearly sideways to his partner.
Canyengue: An older style of tango.
Carancanfunfa: (Also carancanfun) in the lingo of the compadritos, the dance of tango with interruptions (cortes) and also those who dance it that way in a very skillful manner.
Caricias: Caresses: a gentle stroking with the leg or shoe against some part of the partner's body. They can be subtle or extravagant. See adorno, firulete, and lustrada.
Carousel: The lead steps in a circle around the follower keeping them on their own axis.
Carpa: The tent: a figure created when the man leads the lady onto one foot as in calecita and then steps back away from her, causing her to lean at an angle from her foot to his frame.
Castigada: From castigar: to punish, a punishment: a lofting of the lady's working leg followed by flexing at the knee and caressing the working foot down the outside of the supporting leg. Often done as an adorno prior to stepping forward, as in parada or in ochos.
Chiche: (pl. chiches) small ornamental beats done around the supporting foot with the working foot in time with the music, either in front or in back as desired. See adorno, firulete.
Corrida: A running step used in milonga, a series of small steps in doubletime.
Corte: Cut. Corte means cutting the music either by syncopating or holding several beats, taking something away from the principal move. Opposite of firuletes.
Cruzada: The cross. Crossing one foot in front or in back of the other.
Cruzar: To cross.
Desplazamiento: Displacement. displacing a partner's foot or leg using your own foot or leg.
Dibujo: A drawing or sketch. A dibujo is done by drawing circles or other small movements on the floor with the toe.
Enganche: Hooking or coupling, wrapping your leg around your partner's leg.
Enrosque: 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.
F, G, L
Fantasia: A style of tango for the stage characterized by large sweeping moves, and often many ganchos. Considered inappropriate in a small club or salon.
Gancho: A hook. Used primarily on stage, considered inappropriate for salon tango.
Giro: 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.
Lapiz: Pencil. A circular figure executed with one foot drawing on the floor.
Llevada: From llevarto, carry or transport. Similar to a barrida. The man can move the woman's foot with his own, carrying it off the floor or across the floor.
Media vuelta: Half turn. Usually done when the man's right foot and the woman's left foot are free. The man steps forward with his right leading woman to take a back step with her left and then leads her to take two steps while making a half turn.
Milonga: 1) The music of a dance that preceeded the tango, usually in 2/4 time, quicker and more upbeat than tango. 2) A Tango (dance) Party, or the venue of such a Party.
Milonguero: An older tango dancer, one who frequented the milongas during the 1940's and 50's. Also refers to those frequenting the milongas and considered tango enthusiasts. May also describe a style of dancing during that period.
Molinete: Little windmill. A fan. When the follower moves in a circle around the leader, doing a footwork resembling forward and backward ochos.
Mordida: Bite. One partner's foot is sandwiched between the other partner's feet.
O, P, Q
Ochos: Eights. Pivoting forward or backward with the feet together during the pivot and extended during the step. Ocho atras: Ochos backward.
Ocho cortado: A Cut, or truncated Figure Eight.
Orillero: The outskirts of the city, suburban. Orillero style a style of dancing from the suburbs characterized by the man doing many quick, syncopated foot moves.
Parada: A stop.
Patada: A kick.
Quebrada: 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.
R, S, T, V
Resolucion: Resolution. an ending to a basic pattern.
Rulo: A curl.
Sacada: A displacement of the feet.
Salida: A start, or a run. the beginning of a pattern.
Salida cruzada: The beginning of a pattern with a cross, stepping side left crossing right foot behind left or side right crossing left foot behind right.
Salon: A style of dancing for the milonga or small club, as opposed to stage tango (see fantasia).
Sandwichito: One partner's foot is sandwiched between the other partner's feet.
Sacada: A displacement, to move your partner's leg out of the way gently with your own. See desplazamiento.
Sentada: A sitting move, the woman sits on her partner's bent leg or waist.
Trabada: 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 a trabada.
Vals: Waltz, done to tango music in waltz time.