The leader must be aware of the steps that he would like the follower to take. Therefore he must have his repertoire of tango figures in mind while dancing. There are several tango dance figures are described on this website, especially for the leaders who are new to tango dancing. The lady should be familiar with the tango figures too, so that she has a rough idea of where her partner's steps may lead her. Still, the lady should not try to anticipate the next step. Following is remaining sensitive and staying alert.

Basic tango step explained for beginners

This page presents a selection of well-known Argentine tango figures. The tango figures are described by step pattern diagrams and video clips. Dance step description by combining diagrams and videos will provide a sufficient kick-start for beginning tango enthusiasts to obtain control over the footwork of the basic Argentine tango dance steps. The listed tango figures can be regarded as a basic repertoire.

A basic repertoire of complete figures will provide beginning tango dancers with some confidence and basic capability in comparison to advanced tango dancers who navigate smoothly across the dance floor. However you will find that you cannot always finish a tango figure due to obstacles on the dance floor or twists in the music. Therefore it is important to be open to all kinds of variations at any position at all times. As your tango 'mileage' increases you will become comfortable to add some of your imagination to the dance. You may switch between the rhythm and the melody of the music to guide your steps. Followers will find ’here and now’ to be the only thing that matters in order to stay alert for alternatives, spontaneous stops and additions. This is not easy for women who are used to being in charge in everyday life: they have to fully let go. The level on which the follower is able to stay connected to the leader and perform her movements clearly and marked, is key to the pleasure of the common dance experience.

Tango figures described by step pattern diagrams

A step pattern diagram is a schematic dance step representation displaying a limited number of aspects. The main aspects are feet placement, movement of the feet and timing of the movement according to the beat of the music. The position of the chest is an important aspect that is not covered in the step pattern diagram. Watching tango movie clips on YouTube will complement the insight provided by step patterns. Still, dancing lessons are necessary to acquire a good command of Argentine tango dancing and especially one's posture, as it often requires specific attention and advice of a dance instructor.

In each step pattern diagram the first step is always shifting the weight from two feet to one foot (a 'silent' step). From the leaders' point of view: it is usually the right foot where he puts his weight on first.
And the number of counts to the beat of the music is always a multiple of two. Each tango figure described, begins and ends with the position where the dance partners are facing each other, with both feet together and almost touching. These restrictions make it possible to ’glue’ the step patterns together into a diversified tango dance.

Still, tango dancing is not just the execution of tango steps. Tango let you express energy, style and emotion. Men, be bold while providing clear leads. Ladies, be playful, suggestive or seductive even.

When are you ready to go to a milonga (tango dance event)?

To answer that question you have to ask yourself: do I master the basic tango skills?
As a leader you have to be able to ask someone to dance according to the tango etiquette. The lady should know how to accept or decline. While dancing you have to be able to follow the line of dance and stay in your lane.

Smooth walking, keeping balance and rhythm are also considered to be part of the basic skills. It's important to be aware of where you and others are on the dance floor as well as being able to anticipate and knowing how to interrupt a dance figure to prevent a collision with another couple.

Finally, regarding the dance itself: know how to walk, turn and stop, and be able to lead a dance by putting the basic figures together including a few embellishments.