As beginner you are busy getting your basic tango figures on track. But at a certain stage you may find yourself wanting to decorate your dance with embellishments (adornos). Embellishments are small additions to steps in tango to make it look and feel more beautiful. These additions to the figures are applicable by both the leader and the follower. Embellishments enable you to enhance the dance with personal expression. Certain elements in the music may be of inspiration. On this page three embellishments are described which are suitable for beginners.


The golpecito is a tap on the dance floor. The free foot does one or more taps as part of a step or during a pause between steps. In the video clip Jennifer Bratt embellishes the back ocho with the golpecito. Leaders may use a tap during difficult tango figures to keep the steps within the beat of the music.


The lapiz is executed by drawing a curl on the floor with the free leg as a trace of the toe. That's why the lapiz (pencil) is also known as dibujo (sketch) or rulo. The lapiz may vary from a small adornment done while marking time (one or two counts) to a large sweeping arc by the man figuratively to clear the way for the next steps of lady. So it's either a part of a tango figure or a gap filler during a pause in dancing. The lapiz is suitable to employ by the leader as well as the follower.


The caricia is one of the most sensual tango embellishments, and one of the few embellishments traditionally performed by women only. It comes in two variations:
- follower caresses the supporting leg of the leader (lustrada)
- the follower caresses her own supporting leg (castigada)

In the video you will see the basic front ocho steps embellished with a double inside castigada. This is where you stroke the arch of your extended foot up and down the inside of your supporting leg, going up twice. The castigada may be done smoothly or sharply, depending on your interpretation of the music being played. You may emphasize the up or the down movement. Remember to be gentle, otherwise you may end up scratching your own leg with the shoe. Be sure that the leader gives you plenty of time doing this embellishment, otherwise it may look rushed and non-graceful.