Tango Topics | Exploring Your Dance

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Notation: The video above is only a 22-minute sampler of the full 38-minute video. Only paying subscribers can see the full 38-minute video with the footwork. However, the real toy is in the Tango Topics archive of videos on Ochos. This video is only a taster of what’s actually there.


The Eight Ochos of Argentine Tango

Argentine Tango consists of many ways to interpret it’s musical component through movement. One of those movements is called an “Ocho” which when you translate it from the original Spanish into English means “Eight”. The “Eight”, in this case, refers not a number but to a shape that is created by the Dancer’s feet (typically by the Follower, but as you will soon see it can be done by the Lead as well) on the floor when they’re led to do so.

The Ocho is one of the 7 Basic Moves of Tango Vocabulary (see link) that is used in nearly every dance by every dancer at every Milonga in the world. It is almost as ubiquitous as the Argentine Cross in this respect. So much so that one may lead or follow an Ocho and not even be aware that they’re doing it. The movement is taught as one of the very first things we learn aside from walking. While one’s walk is insanely important, the application of the Ocho is almost, if not as, equally important for both roles. From a Leading perspective, it’s one of the ways that we can create a navigational structure & generate navigational options. We can use the Ocho to interpret the music and to generate musical structure from it. And it also has the obvious ability that allows to use it as filler content until we’re ready to do something else that may lead up to something else. From a Following perspective, it is one of the very first things we are taught to master and must become facile with because our very tango lives depend on it for a whole host of reasons which will become obvious later on down the line.

That said, let’s take a deep dive into the 8 Types of Ochos for Argentine Tango.

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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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What is an Ocho ? In it’s simplest form and right up to its most complex form The Argentine Ocho is a learned, and generated motion. Meaning ? That the Ocho is not a natural construct. It is something must be learned and then mastered by both roles, not just by one.

The Ocho is powered by 1 of 3 types of “Engines of Motion”:

1.) Crossing Meridian Technique.
2.) Disassociation/Applied Disassociation Technique. Or
3.) A Body ‘Pivot’ Technique.

Each one of these techniques can generate no bodily rotation motion, some bodily rotation motion, or an enormous amount of bodily rotation motion at the point of Social Collection. Where, depending on the type of desired Ocho, that no body rotation or some body rotation will be done at very specific angles (0, 45, 90, or 180 or more degrees) where the dancers’ feet will rotate and body either with or against their dancing partner’s motion. In all but one type of Ocho the dancer (Lead or Follower) will step forwards or backward thereby setting up the next Ocho movement. However, and there’s always a however to these things, there is one type of Ocho where the dancer does not step forward or back but instead changes their weight from one foot to the other and then employs one of the 3 techniques above and does this repeatedly in time to the music.

It should be noted that the Argentine Ocho in all 8 varieties listed below all invoke Cross-System walking using either Step Half-Step or a Weight-Change Step, or a Cross Behind (not shown in the video) to get into and out of them. If you’re not familiar with this terminology please see their respective links to dive deeper into getting into Cross-System.

Put simpler: The Ocho is where the dancer (lead or follower) steps into Social Collection with their feet, and then assuming one of the 3 techniques above is used to generate bodily rotation that seemingly starts at the feet, and goes all the way up the body. Seemingly. 😉  The reason the Ocho is called an Ocho as was mentioned before, that the dancer will create a pattern on the floor with their feet, that resembles the number 8. However, over the last few decades, the floor pattern isn’t really adhered to, but instead it’s more a straight, curved line or an arc, with a point on either end of the arc. That point on either end, is where a body rotation can occur, or a point of transition occurs using one of the 3 techniques described above.

This is an Argentine Ocho

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What are the Different Types of Ochos ?

Type 1The “Milonguero” Style or “Lazy”  (starts at: 00:03:14) Ocho. In this Ocho, the Follower (usually), is led to stepping in a diagonal 45-degree angle across their natural body meridian thereby engaging in the 1st Engine of Motion. The Follower does not rotate their hips in any way, shape, or form, nor do they need to do so either. Their legs will cross over their natural body meridian in a walking step to do perform the “Lazy” Ocho. The Lead can also self-lead themselves to do this same motion going backward down the line of dance. This Ocho is ideal for small space dancing and it is ideal for the Encuentro environment. The reason it is called a Milonguero or Lazy Ocho is because in this instance the Follower is emulating minimal body movement of the Milonguero style of dance that emulates a Walk. It’s just that this walk crosses over the body’s natural meridian. Of the 8 types of Ochos, it is by far the easiest to do and the most effortless to dance.

Type 2The “Linear” Ocho. (starts at: 00:10:07) In this Ocho, the dancer is led (the Follower) or self-led (the Lead) to using the 2nd Engine of Motion: Disassociation and then Applied Disassociation to self-rotate, due to torsion build up and release. As a result of this type of engine, the dancer rotates to a 90-degree angle perpendicular to their partner, which then can result in either a forward or backward walking linear step on two separate but equal walking tracks. This position is also where the Ocho gets its name from because the Dancer is literally transitioning in front of their dancing partner over a line or a linear space directly perpendicular to their partner. It should be noted that the dancer can employ the 3rd Engine of Motion: A Pivot but it is not desirable to do so. The Linear Ocho can be done from Open or Close Embrace, however it’s typically done from Open Embrace or a Fluid Embrace, as the Close Embrace version of the Linear Ocho can be stressful or uncomfortable due to the fact of some people may want to use arm tension, hand/forearm pressure, compression, and/or resistance in the embrace to generate it. None of that is required. The build-up of Bodily Rotation Torsion via Disassociation, and then the release of that Torsion as Applied Disassociation is what generates the bodily rotation. Primarily the Linear Ocho is used as a teaching tool for both roles to instruct, and then practice, dancer Disassociation and Applied Disassociation. Once learned, Linear Ochos can be employed as a ‘Filler’, or as a navigational tool, or it can be used as an intro that leads into either a series of Sacadas or the opening step to a whole host of vocabulary. “Filler” in the sense that it can be used as some vocabulary to lead into something else or when you’re stuck from a leading perspective. It should be noted that while it’s only hinted at in the video above, the Disassociation and Applied Disassociation element is insanely important. 😉 It is what ‘powers’ all the ochos in this series with the exception of Type 1 and Type 7.

Type 3The “Traveling” Ocho. (starts at: 00:12:55) This Ocho is called a “Traveling” Ocho because it Travels down the line of dance. It is the Ocho that everyone thinks of when they hear the word “Ocho”. Typically this Ocho is done by the Follower, however, a Lead can self-lead themselves to engage in a Traveling Ocho as well (going backward down the line of dance). These can be done in Open Embrace, or Close Embrace, however, predominantly see them done in Close Embrace. Ideally, the Traveling Ocho employs the 2nd Engine of Motion thereby resulting in a 45-degree body rotation to create the desired ‘Traveling’ Ocho. Traveling Ochos can be done with Forward steps or Back Steps, and while the Forward Traveling Ocho requires the Lead to walk backward down the line of dance to do engage in it, the Forward Traveling Ocho is a lot of fun and add a lot of variety to the dance. Not to mention it also opens up lots of other options and opportunities to do other things that you wouldn’t ordinarily see. Traveling Ochos have a few built-flaws to them from a Leading Perspective that are discussed below in the Leading Perspective section. The Traveling Ocho is typically the ‘goto’ Ocho in all environments for a wide variety of reasons, mostly because the other 7 Ochos on this list aren’t taught all that often! Sadly. It should be noted that the dancer could employ the 3rd Engine of Motion: A Pivot but it is not desirable to do so.

Type 4The “Circular” Ocho. (starts at: 00:17:35) The name for this Ocho is a bit of a misnomer because we’re not actually generating a circle but more of an arc around the dancing partner. So rightfully it should be titled, the “Arced Ocho”, but that’s awkward, so we’re sticking with Circular. 😉 The Circular Ocho can be done from Open and Close Embrace, and typically employs the 2nd Engine of Motion, where the dancing partner will rotate 180 degrees on either end point of the walking Arc. Typically this Ocho is done from a standing position. And more often than not it is used primarily as the opening step to the Follower’s Molinete to the Lead’s Giro. The Ocho itself is not really used as a dancing element over and over again, but rather as a singular element to do something else like engaging the Follower’s Molinete, or any one of 12 types of Ganchos, or a series of Paradas, or changes of direction. It is generally not used as a navigational element either primarily because of its awkward embrace nature (see Linear Ochos). Circular Ochos also have a built-in flaw that is discussed below in the Leading perspective section. Notation: The dancer could use the 3rd Engine of Motion but it is not desirable to do so!

So where are the other 4 Ochos and what are they ? Register, it’s free, and find out. Just scroll down below.

There’s a lot more to this ArticleThere’s the extensive Lead’s Perspective, the deeper Follower’s Technique Perspective, and sometimes we throw in a complete Dancing Perspective part, all of which are only visible to Tango Topics Freemium Registered Users, Gold Subscribers, Diamond Level Users, and Milonga Madness Users. To become a Freemium user, Registration is absolutely 100% FREE, click the button below, and you get access to this article, and over 400 videos, hundreds of articles on a wide range of Tango Topics. So what are you waiting for, go register, then login to your Tango Topics Library page and then select the “ARTICLES” button and you’ll see this article with all that good stuff in there. Easy. No ? 🙂

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The Reality of WHY You Need This: There are many moves, steps, patterns, and figures to Argentine Tango that are really cool. What you may not realize is that most of that stuff is ‘fluff’, they’re nice to have, they’re nice to know, but honestly, you’re not going to use them that often! Mind you this is one side of the argument. This ain’t that! This piece is one of the more venerable selections of Argentine Tango that you will use frequently like Walking, Milonguero Ochos/Milonguero Turns, The Follower’s Molinete/Traveling Ochos, or The Argentine Cross. Tango Topics take this stuff very seriously, and we say that because we use this stuff ALL – THE – TIME! Our case is that you need this stuff because > This is all about foundation, or one of the Seven Foundation Steps that we use all the time to create the dance that we know as Argentine Tango. That’s why! 🙂 That said, you do actually need to watch this stuff. You can learn what you need from this video and then apply it. No lie. No gimmick. As always YMMV and to remember that the video itself is only a stepping stone! You will need some private lessons to go along with it to get the ‘feel’ of things. That is the reality of WHY you need this stuff. So subscribing for a few months to TangoTopics to get what we’re on about wouldn’t kill you. Further, it would probably help to hear another person saying what your current tango teacher has been saying all along. Think of this stuff as one more reminder that you absolutely need to hear.


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Have you seen our Ocho Transition Series ? This important four-part series covers the four important transitions between the two common type of Ochos (Traveling & Milonguero), and the 2 common types of turns (Molinete/Giro, and Milonguero). Each one is a challenge on its own. And each one can seriously up your dancing abilities.

Learn > Ocho Transitions

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Why should you subscribe instead ?  Several reasons.  1.) Probably the biggest reason is to save a boatload of money. Buying these things outright isn’t cheap. Besides when you buy you only have access to the one video. Subscribing, on the other hand, gives you access to everything else so you can see the foundational material that goes with this stuff. 2.) Even if you’re a Free User, you’ll get access to free tips that aren’t available to anyone just reading the post like this one. 3.) Sometimes there are slightly different versions of the videos, that add a bit more content for the free user vs. an unregistered user. 4.) Because the Dancing Perspectives (Lead, Follow, and Dancing) are hidden to the open user. And that’s where all the information is at, unless you actually subscribe. Until you do, those very important textual descriptions of what’s going on for both Lead and Follow you want to read. 5.) And the real reason you should subscribe ? If you’re used to YouTube videos where you’ll see a performance, those Youtube videos don’t explain or walk you through how these ideas work! That is why! What you’re seeing is a presentation, a performance. Not how things work! And what you really need to see is how things work, and more importantly why they work! This website shows you that and more! 

Remember that what you’re seeing is a couple that is performing for the 15th row for a room full of people, they’re not social dancing. Whereas this website is all about ‘Social Dancing’  or how to make things function on a social dance floor. Social Dance floor ? Your local milonga! They’re showing flashy moves as a presentation! But not stopping and talking about how this works, why you’d want to put that piece of vocabulary there, or how to make things fit. This website is all about those things and more!

You could watch those videos and thereby spend your time, trying to infer, and figure out how things may work in that particular situation. Bend your body this way or that, twist and force this position or that. Place your foot here or there and figure it out. This is known as Tango Twister.  Which can be a lot of fun, but more than likely it won’t help you, because you’re missing something: The explanation from an experienced teacher showing you how to properly excute this stuff from a Leading Perspective as well as from a Following Perspective!

The goal of YouTube videos is to get you to study with those teachers in person. The goal of Tango Topics videos allows you to work at your own pace, in the comfort of your own space, so that you can play them over and over again to improve your understanding of the vocabulary or technique being described to therefore better your dancing experience. The goal of classes and workshops is to get you to come back over and over and over again, thereby spending more money with that teacher. This website and the videos under it are here to act as a resource for you to help you to improve your dance. Pay once and you’re done.

Eventually, one way or another you’re going to pay for this lesson, either here and now, or with them. TANSTAAFL! The difference between that lesson and this ? Is that you get to play this lesson over and over and over again. Further still, there are supporting materials (other videos) that help to explain the language and the underlying technique of how and why things work, so you can easily reference those things in the corresponding articles that go with the material, and or any language in the Tango Topics Dictionary. 


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