The Ghost Guide to Social Tango 2nd Edition: Barridas

6th March 2010

"If a man is called to be a sweeper, he should sweep even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great sweeper who did his job well." ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.


One partner's foot sweeps the other's foot and places it without losing contact. Barridas can be done from either the outside or the inside of the foot of either dancer.

Barridas are usually done with the feet in contact, but they can also be done with the feet separate (often called illusory) In either case the lead is from the body and the appearance of sweeping her foot is actually an illusion.

Note: the barrida is done on her unweighted leg. It is possible to do it on weighted leg, "but not in a good way" (MsHedgehog). If you 'jump the gun' and do a barrida when the follower's leg is still weighted what should happen is nothing. If you manage to move her foot while it's weighted, you're using WAY TOO MUCH FORCE! You can also cause her serous injury, you're well past tango and into the martial arts at this point.


Sidestep left to lady sandwich lead's right foot. Barrida her left foot to right with lead's right foot:


It's not a ronde! The knee bends.

Leader concentrates on their standing leg.

Need to be close

Direction of lead's rear non-barridaing foot is important to prevent strain on the knee.

Musicality and floorcraft

Playing with different movements and rhythms is particularly useful to both interpret the music and when stuck in traffic as when done small it takes up virtually no space. It is also possible to take small barridaed steps to slowly navigate forwards.


Sidestep left to lady sandwich lead's right foot. Can now trace small circles with her left foot using lead's right:


Pushed back Cross

The concept is simply sweeping her calf from behind.

The leader place his lower leg on the follower's lower leg and sweeps it to the cross position.


Sweep her calf low down with your lower leg rather than the foot. Sweeping her heel will knock her over especially if she's in high heels.


Can barrida in variety of ways between the steps. There are many possibilities.

Some examples are




You need to get slightly ahead of the follower to set up the barrida.

Stepping barrida

Sidestep left to lady sandwich your right foot. Transfer weight onto your left, her right and you can sidestep right carrying her left foot with you in a barrida.

Lady Barrida

Can use body movement to reverse any barrida and invite lady to barrida you. NB need to make sure she doesn't have her weight on that leg. Have her offset in the direction she's going to barrida. Turn your chest in the direction you want her to barrida so she has to shift to realign back in front of you. Has the feeling of turning to talk to someone standing by your shoulder.

Volcada Barrida (Illusion)

In this example, the leader does an illusory barrida where the dancers' feet don't make contact and instead it appears as if the leader's foot is exerting a magnetic force on the follower's foot to bring it to the cross.

- Christopher O'Shea, 6th March 2010

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