Tango comes originally from the Rio Plata between Buenos Aires in Argentina and Uraguay. These are Spanish speaking nations. Much of the terminology used in tango is therefore Spanish and needs a little explanation. In the UK, most lessons are in English, but you will get to hear some of the words below used, so it is worth trying to remember them. We can't guarantee that you will be able to understand all lessons in Spanish using only the words below, but having been to tango lessons given entirely in Spanish, we can say that it helps to know them.
paso - literally step: a step
marcar - literally to mark: to lead
ocho- literally eight: a figure where the dancer steps forward,
turns through 180°, steps forward again, turns through 180° and so on. Possibly named after the pattern
a woman's dress used to make in the sawdust on the floor when dancing
giro - literally turn: a figure in which the follower dances all the way round the leader - usually consisting of a
combination of forward, side, backward, side steps.
abierto - literally open: positions where the legs are open such as after a side step.
crucado - literally crossed: positions where the legs are crossed such as after a back step.
gancho - literally a hook: one dancer interrupts the motion of the other's leg, causing it to hook around their own.
sacada - literally a taking: one dancer takes the other's space by stepping into it while in contact with their leg. This gives the effect of the first dancer causing the other's leg to move.
entrada - literally entrance: where one of the dancers enters their leg between the other dancer's feet.
cortada - literally cut: a step cut short - used for example in the ocho cortada
bloque - literally block: where one dancer blocks the motion of the other's foot
rebote - literally rebound: the dancers rebound from their step without fully changing weight
volcada - literally overturning: a step in which the follower is taken out of their axis into the leader's space. The dancers usually then share an axis.
colgada - literally hanging: a step where the dancers lean away from each other and hang against each other's weight in a hanging fashion:
paso volado - literally flying step: a step where the follower's leg seems to fly or
float in the air.
soltada - literally untying: steps where the embrace is broken.
pisada - literally footstep: steps where the follower appears to step on the leader's leg or foot