A Tutorial About Argentine Tango Dancing 


Chapter 15: The Salida Cruzada

Last updated, 5/16/00

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Whether you are dancing with your partner on a crowded or an empty room, understanding the reason and the logic of most Tango moves helps to develop an instinct for floor navigation with finesse. The only space that really counts, and the one for which both partners are equally responsible, is the space occupied by the embrace. Take good care of the embrace and the Tango will take care of itself.

What differentiates the creativity and expression of an enjoyable dance from plain empty geometry are the underlying factors that contributed to create many of the figures and patterns available to dancers today. There are a great deal of movements that make a lot of sense if one can imagine the crowded dance floors of Buenos Aires.

Of course, every so often we hear cries of this is not Buenos Aires and these are the 90's and here comes the tango of the new generation. These claims generate mostly from groups with clever marketing strategies aimed solely to isolated communities controlled by gatekeepers who seek empowerment by facilitating the implementation of those marketing plans.

Those who have visited Buenos Aires know that space on the dance floor is at a premium, regardless of the size of the venue. Indeed, dancing Tango has become once again a major attraction for a loyal legion of dancers in the capital city of Argentina. There are new dancers, but they are dancing the same "old" Tango in a variety of styles.

In Buenos Aires, regardless of the dancing style you prefer and the club or confiteria you like the most, there are well respected codes of the milonga that deal with the way Argentinos invite and get invited to dance, and the way they manage to dance with enjoyment and proficiency in what would seem to be an impossible lack of space for those who are prisoners of the Eight Count Basic, and those who are eager to try the newly acquired movements characteristic of the new tango.

As the ladies get strategically seated around the periphery of the dance floor by the host, they face the gentlemen who in most places are seated across the floor, or on stools by the bar. As any red blooded Argentino will tell you, no man will dance unless a lady invites him. She does so by unmistakenly seeking his attention with her face and making direct eye contact with him. The "famous" nod of the head used by the men is actually a reassuring question, "me?" The flicker of her eyes, the subtle nodding of her head or her delicate smile means, "yes, you!" The chosen one then confidently walks towards the lady without loosing eye contact. When he is a couple of feet away she stands up and facing the center of the dance floor waits for him to come to stand in front of her.

Given these typical conditions it only comes naturally that after embracing her, the man will initiate the dance with a side step to his left, into the line of dance. Once this movement takes place, the dancers have an infinite variety of movements to continue.

Because of the crowded conditions, the use of parallel feet walking, which requires about one-and-a-half body widths of dance floor space, is often combined or replaced with crossed feet walking, which only uses one body width of dance floor space. Taking the lady to the cruzada is now executed with both bodies remaining in Position One, that is with both dancers fully in front of each other.

Technical aspects of the salida cruzada

The most common way to initiate a salida cruzada is for the man to do a traspie immediately after his side step to the left. That means to change his weight as the right leg closes so the second step will also be done with his left.

The way the bodies line up for the second step of the salida varies according to how the bodies are aligned when the first step is taken.

Following the description of the common way to start the dance, the woman faces the center of the dance floor while the man is with his back to the center of the dance floor. (Photo 1, is taken from behind the lady's perspective as the dancers prepare to start assuming Body Position One)

First, they take a side step staying fully aligned in front of each other. The man transfers his weight to his left to mark the lady a full step to her right.

Next, he changes his weight back to his right, while doing a half turn to his left. Hs upper body rotates the woman over her right foot, facing her back into the line of dance. With her weight completely on her right foot and fully elongated, her left leg is weighless resting next to her right. (Photo 2).

Next, the man transfers his weight back to his left slightly flexing his knee. This result in a mark is to "push" the woman "off balance" so her free left leg extends behind her to carry the motion of her body. Her metatarsus seeks for the space behind her. As she firmly pushes down with her metatarsus, her lower leg elongates, her heel touches the ground and her weight is now over her left foot. The second step has been completed and both dancers are now crossed feet, that is, they are both stepping with the same foot, the left in this case (Photo 3).

With the weight solid on his left leg, the man now marks the next step of the woman by advancing with his right foot and using his upper body to place her right foot back in line with her left foot (Photo 4).

Finally, while transfering his weight completely on his right foot, he continues to project his upper body forward marking the woman's next step. In this case, applying a slight pressure with his right arm on the woman's torso, he places her left foot in front of her right foot, bringing her completely on front of him in a cruzada position (Photo 5).

Photo 5
Photo 4
Photo 3
Photo 2
Photo 1


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