Tango Topics | Exploring Your Dance



Ending A Dance

As far as Argentine Tango is concerned we’re taught the steps, the patterns, the figures, a very small amount about the music (that there’s a beat and that you should follow it). We hear these words about ‘following the line of dance’, which is a bit about floorcraft really. We get indoctrinated into the activities, and some never really do, of Cabeceo and to a lessor degree Mirada. And for the most part we’re left to our own devices as to ‘How to start a dance with someone’, ‘What to do during that dance with someone’, and ‘How you may want to interpret the music while dancing’. At no point along the curve has anyone ever said to you, more than likely, “This is how you end a dance with your partner”.

Guess what ?

Tango Topics, while what’s about to follow will sound like a sales tool, it is anything but that. It’s express a point that is rarely talked about but rather assumed and not a whole lot of thought is put into it. That said, Tango Topics has put a great deal of thought into ‘How to start a dance with your partner‘. It also has videos on how to Cabeceo and how NOT to Cabeceo. As well the importance and usage of Mirada and why you want to use it. Tango Topics has an inordinate amount of articles (see: Tango Floorcraft) as well as videos on floorcraft and how to engage the idea. It has articles & videos on the specific vocabulary of Argentine Tango to create a little bit of variety and spice in one’s execution of the dance. Like for instance Milonguero Ochos, Traveling Ochos, as well as Ochos Variations, Cortados, Turns, Sacadas, Ganchos, Social Colgadas, Paradas, Social Volcadas, just to name a few. As well as an extensive video series by Detlef Engel and Melina Sedo on Argentine Milonga. It also has extensive video teaching tools on how to listen to the music on the whole, and what you’re wanting to pay attention to and why. It even has a tango thoughts section that can help with your tango issues. Out of all of that, there’s no video and no article that can help you to understand HOW YOU END A DANCE.

To be fair, there’s a video on how you want to walk someone from the floor, but that’s not really a video and an article on what might seem like common sense when in fact, believe it or not, it’s not common sense for a lot of people.

So today we’re going to skip all the build up to this and get right down to Today’s Tango Topic – How To End A Dance.

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Have you seen the Walking Systems video ? This video series showcases the Six Ways of expanding your walk in Tango using: Parallel System Walking, Cross System Walking, Three Track Walking, ‘Lazy’ Ochos, The Snake Walks, & Alternate Walking.

Learn > The Six Ways of Walking

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How Do We Want To End A Dance ? Answer: Simply. Nothing flashy, but very simple and plain which is to say: The way you start a dance is how we want to end a dance. If you started out facing each other, then you want to end up facing each other. How hard is that ?

How Do We NOT Want To End A Dance ? Answer: In a Pose. Frequently what you’ll see from performances is a ‘Posed’ ending to their dance. Meaning that whatever step they end in, they freeze in a tableau. That ‘tableau’ is usually a very exaggerated and stylized position that almost NEVER happens in tango…ever. Which is great if you’re performing and want to show off. But, in case you hadn’t noticed, you’re not showing off, you’re Social Dancing, and you’re not performing for the room. It’s just YOU and YOUR PARTNER. Which is to say that there’s absolutely ZERO reason to do engage in a Tango ‘Pose’. None. Yes, it may look cool…to you! And, yes, it may be ‘fun’ for about 2 seconds. However, the reality is that you will look a little ridiculous. At the same time if you end with a Pose constantly, it gets (as the Brits say) “Cheeky”. Meaning that it’s just too much. Once or twice in a blue moon, and by that we mean once every few years, but not every song of every tanda. So….ummmmm…not so much with that idea. See the how we want to end a dance above.

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Have you seen our Practical Tango Advice posts ? Not to toot our own horn but these are like little free classes on bits of information that you already know, but seem to forget when the music starts. Think of these as all the things your teacher would have told you in a private lesson but didn’t have time to do so!

See > Practical Tango Advice

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Enter The Salida Step. ‘Salida‘ comes from the root word ‘Salir‘ in Spanish. Which, when translated from Spanish to English, means “to Leave” or “to Exit”. When an ‘IR’ verb in Spanish is put in the past, this is a Past Participle which in English adds an ‘ed’ ending to the verb. In Spanish, we add a ‘ada’ or in this case ‘ida’ ending. Which when translated would make the verb become “Leaved”, which isn’t a word but “Left” or “Exited” is. However, from a Tango perspective, the word Salida means “to leave one’s seat, and enter the floor or the line of dance“. Further still, it also implies the very first step that we engage in as dancers. Typically that first step has always been a side step (Lead Right to Left, and Follower Left to Right) to enter the line of dance as quickly and expeditiously as possible so that we can begin dancing with our partners. Over time the ‘Salida Step’ has become somewhat more intricate in the multiple ways in which we can start the dance and enter the line of dance, thereby expanding the side step to include vast swaths of vocabulary. We even teach a variation on a theme of this idea which we call “The Dark Side Salida” which you should totally go look at. It’s a fun exploration of what you could do to start a dance!

However the Salida Step also refers to the Closing Step of the Dance! Meaning ? It’s the very last thing that you do. Or in this case invoking the thing we pointed out above, finishing as you started. Facing your partner.

One More Salida. Over time the Salida Step has also referred to the exiting step. Which is also the step OUT of the Line of Dance. Which in this case, should be, a side step > Lead Left to Right, and Follower Right to Left. This indicates, historically speaking, that we have now ended the dance. While this may sound ‘boring’, and a little antiseptic. It is anything but that. We want to end in such a way that calms things down not ramps things up!

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Have you seen the Tango Topics Tango Thoughts ? Over 130+ posts (and more) on every idea, concept, history, codigos, floorcraft, the male follower, the active follower, what to wear, shoes!, cake…yes cake at Milongas, advice on where to go in New York, Berlin, London, and of course a few Milongas in Buenos Aires, and so many more…go look.

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A Little Squeeze. Typically the end of the dance is a good place to add a bit more a hug, a quick bit of compression to the embrace, to add emphasis to the closure aspect and then a quick release and back to the realities of getting to know this person a bit more.



This is where a whole swath of Male Leads have gone off the deep end in terms of crossing boundaries. They hold on a little too long. They squeeze a little too tight. And then to add insult to injury, the crown jewel awkwardness > They decide to put their head into the Follower’s neck.

Ask any Female Follower if they enjoy having a someone they don’t know all that well, have only just met, and that person decides to place their head in the crook of their neck while at the same time turning their face towards that female’s cheek.

Ask them if they enjoy that ?

The answer is a qualified “no”.

Qualified in the sense that if they know that person really well, or they’re married to or dating that person, then it’s sweet…ish…sort of. But for the most part, if that was done out on the street, that Follower would run as far away as possible, as quickly as possible.

It’s awkward, creepy, strange, and just inappropriate! Which is to say, Male Leads…STOP DOING THIS. You’re crossing boundaries. You may think you’re sharing your ‘soul’ with the female follower you’re doing this to or with, but the reality is that it’s wholly invasive!

Of course the men that need to hear this message, the men that need to see and feel just how awkward it is, will never hear it because you dear reader aren’t sharing this stuff with them. Which is not a plug to share it, it’s that if you find this stuff invasive and inappropriate then the burden is on you to share this stuff far and wide so that they hear the message.

Last words. End the dance any way you want, whatever works best for you. However, keep in mind the things were mentioned above. No one, not even this page is telling you what to do. It’s simply pointing out to you that there are desirable ways to engage in the formalities of social convention. Which is to say that ‘simple is best’. Put another way, that we want to end in such a way that we are creating closure with our dancing partners. Or another, there’s closure to the song, yes ? Shouldn’t there be closure to your dancing expression with your partner ? Answer: Yes there should be.

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