The Ghost Guide to Social Tango 2nd Edition: Boleos

7th March 2010

"How do you make those shapes?" ~ every woman who's ever learnt boleos


Yes, the teardrop shape of an arcing boleo is a thing of beauty. But it's really not well suited to a social dance floor, especially if you're wearing killer heels. The versions shown here are a social version rather than a show version. Note how the heel is directed to the floor and kept nice and close to the followers weightbearing leg.

MsHedgehog It's totally OK to keep them down on the floor regardless of the lead if, in your opinion, it's not safe to do high ones.

Musicality and floorcraft

Boleos have a lot of potential for musicality. They can be done at different speeds. Castigadas can be done at different heights and with pauses. They also take up very little space if stuck in traffic, as long as the follower's heel stays nice and safe either against her leg or on the floor.


Principle - punishment! (it's quite hard work on her thigh, particularly if done slowly, high and straight up to the top) . You can suggest this, particularly by lifting your left hand slightly, but ultimately it's up to the woman.

MsHedgehog A heel tucked close against the leg is only dangerous if someone slams into it. If in doubt, you can always just keep it down and do something else.


The lead will feel the pressure build "like the bamboo leaf bends under the weight of the snow" until there comes a moment where "the clump of snow releases" the energy back into her frame to create the boleo.

Practice sequence - Difference between a sacada front boleo and a gancho lead

Two things happen. In the sacada, the leader's leg deflects the follower's leg, causing her to boleo, whereas in the gancho, her leg can pass through (but please see the section on Ganchos for more information). Also in the sacada the leader moves his axis between the women's feet, whereas in the gancho the women puts her axis between the leader's feet.

- Christopher O'Shea, 7th March 2010

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