The Ghost Guide to Social Tango 2nd Edition: Crosses

7th March 2010

"You can't cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water." ~ Rabindranath Tagore


There is a general feeling that crosses include a initial sidestep, followed by three steps, ending in a weight transfer. Some schools of thought argue that the woman should simply recognize this pattern and cross at the appropriate moment, the actual cross being basically unled.

Hopefully the following clip shows that:

  • a) There's no need for the preceding steps
  • b) There's no need to weight transfer the follower if you don't want to
  • c) It is possible to lead a follow to cross from any position

Note: Please don't worry about the position of the leader's right foot. It has to be somewhere, but it could go many places. It's not part of a "move".

Again the leader takes the follower to the cross repeatedly in this clip. 46 seconds is particularly interesting.

Musicality and floorcraft

Remember that you don't need to do a sidestep and then three more steps to do a cross.

Likewise having taken the follower to the cross you're not required to resolve it and continue walking backwards - that all takes up a lot of room. Instead you can directly to the cross requiring no room. If you then uncross the follower instead, you give her the opportunity to do small adornments to the music. You can vary the rhythm of the cross, pause, uncross as well.


There are many ways to lead double-time. Most of them don't work terribly well at intermediate level. There is a growing interest in musicality though so hopefully this may change over time. By far the easiest way to lead double-time is the cross.

Two Different Rhythms at once

An interesting aspect of tango music is that often different instruments will be playing different rhythms at the same time. This leads to the possibility of the leader dancing to one rhythm while leading the follower to dance to the other. For example, the Leader dances in half time and the follower dances double-time.

Great idea, but how do you actually do it in practice, ideally without developing a migraine?

One solution is for the leader to walk to the outside of the follower. He can lead her to do single time while he does double-time. The problem is that most followers will mistake this as a lead for the cross. A more eloquent solution is Andreas' Cross.

Here the leader skips out one of his steps allowing him to walk slowly while the follower does the normal double-time. It takes a bit of practice to get the balance right throughout the move, but it works well.

Practice Sequence: 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.

- Christopher O'Shea, 8th March 2010

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