How to dance chacarera

TANGO-DJ.AT » Chacarera

Chacarera is one of the most famous folklore dances of Argentina. Unlike tango, chacarera can be danced by most people in Argentina, especially in the countryside. People dance it a lot during fiestas and also as a break at many milongas. It is fun to dance and very easy to learn. It only takes one workshop of 1.5 hours to master chacarera!

Chacarera is danced in couples but without embrace following a given choreography. All couples line up facing each other. The basic idea of chacarera is courtshipping each other in order to find together in the end. The rhythm of chacarera is a 6/8 beat which can be counted as a 3/4 beat as known from the vals beat. Whereas the speed and rhythm of the chacarera can vary a lot, the structure is always the same. A chacarera consists of two identically parts.

Chacareras start with an introduction sequence. During the introduction sequence dancers start clapping their hands. This is done by the following rhythm where the * marks the moment for clapping:

two beats of six eighth notes:
1/8*(1) 2/8 3/8*(2) 4/8* 5/8(3) 6/8*

1/8*(1) 2/8 3/8*(2) 4/8* 5/8(3) 6/8*
* marks the clapping, the numbers in brackets are counting the vals-beat rhythm for dancing.

During the workshop we will listen to the rhythm, and it will be explained and practiced.. You will understand the rhythm of the music and know when to clap and where to dance. (It's much easier than it sounds here ;)

After the introduction sequence you may hear "Adentro" in most chacareras indicating the start of dancing. From then on you follow a given choreography, an illustration of which you see on the top of the page. There is only one tricky little moment to watch out for. Depending on the chacarera song being played, the figure "vuelta entera" has to be danced in 6 or 8 beats. Normally it's possible to hear this already during introduction sequence. But since the introduction might be cut or difficult to hear you will have to figure that out by yourself. In Europe sometimes the DJ, a teacher or an experienced dancer might tell it in advance. Otherwise it's not difficult to recognize it by the melody of the music ending within 6 or 8 beats. Since everybody is dancing the same choreography you can always simply copy your partner or other dancers near by. After the first part of the chacarera, the whole routine is repeated, starting with the introduction sequence, clapping and the choreography.

Even if you have never thought of dancing chacarera - give it a try! It is not at all as showy as it seems to be, since you are supposed to courtship your dance partner and be with him all the time until finding each other in the end.

c) Bernhard Gehberger 2010

Chacarera doble

A variation of the chacarera described above is the chacarera doble. Regularly danced in Argentina you will hardly hear it in Europe. Basically the same as the normal chacarera, but with some differences in the choreography where some figures are repeated. Again you have to distinguish between a 6 and 8 beat variation. Illustration of the choreography.

Chacarera II Workshop by Paula Galimany & Bernhard Gehberger

Warmup - 5 February 2012

Zapateo insights for Chacarera - Auckland Tango

This is a duplication of the earlier article on Chacarera; updated to provide some YouTube clips on zapateo footwork, posture and timing. SEE FURTHER OCTOBER 2016 UPDATE FOLLOWING WORKSHOP BY SEBASTIAN ARRUA.

A useful description of Chacarera from via a Facebook post by Manuel Garber‎ and shared by Hilda Yuan:

There is only one simple step to dance chacarera and that is a 1-2-3 very similar to the VALS (Left foot steps forward, right foot advances and change weight, then right foot steps forward, left foot advances and change of weight)

There are different types of Chacarera music, but the most common consists of 7 sections of 8 beats each (intro / verse / interlude / verse / interlude / verse / chorus). The first is an intro, so it is not danced. The other 6 have choreographed figures. So there are only 4 figures to learn because 2 of them get repeated.

Eight beats in which the dancers are clapping. as one of the musicians calls out “PRIMERA!” or “SE VA LA PRIMERA!” meaning “It’s the first!”, or “lets go with the first part”. Once the musical introduction ends, a call of “ADENTRO!” is made, which simply means “IN!” or “lets get in”, Which initiates the dancing.

– AVANCE Y RETROCESO (Forward and Backward) – 4 bars – Two steps forward and two steps back, arms almost fully extended overhead.
– GIRO (Small Turn) – 4 bars – Two steps forward, reaching almost to the center, and then turn around and return with two steps.

– VUELTA ENTERA (Full Turn) – 8 bars – Four steps forward to the opposite side, and again 4 steps to the original position, always facing each other and leaving the center free.

– ZAPATEO Y ZARANDEO (Stomping and Swaying) – 8 bars – In this figure, the couple performs a different choreography. The male stomp, while the woman sways holding her skirt with both hands so it looks like a reversed fan, doing 2 diamond shaped figures of 4 beats each.

– VUELTA ENTERA (Full Turn) repeat of FIGURE-2

– ZAPATEO Y ZARANDEO (Stomping and Swaying) repeat of FIGURE-3

– MEDIA VUELTA (Half Turn) – 4 bars – Four steps forward to the opposite side.
– GIRO Y CORONACION (Turn and Crowning) – 4 bars – Two steps towards the center, a quick turn on the spot and the man “crowns” the woman symbolically by closing his arms above her head.

Just before FIGURE-6, a call of “AHORA!” is made (it sounds like “AURA!”) which means “NOW!” and its a reminder that this is the last figure and now is the time to crown your girl.

After this “PRIMERA” section, the whole set of 6 figures is repeated a second time with a call of “SEGUNDA” or “SE VA LA SEGUNDA” (meaning “lets go with the second part”), keeping in mind that the dancers switched sides.

After the second set a musician will call out “SE ACABA” which means “its ending”, to indicate that 2 sets of figures is enough!. (the whole thing took only 3 minutes)


As per the opening sentence above, there is only one simple step to dance chacarera and that is a 1-2-3 very similar to the VALS. However the timing and rhythm can be hard to grasp initially, particularly in the transition from the fast (almost samba-like) pairs of two claps in the introduction to the dancing before the slightly slower vals steps commence. If you really want to understand how this works:
(1) Recognise the beats in each bar or phrase as six half beats
(2) Identify the first of the six half beats in a bar or phrase
(3) Clap | 1 x 3 4 x 6 | 1 x 3 4 x 6 | etc
(4) Vals | 1 x 3 x 5 x | 1 x 3 x 5 x | etc

23 October 2016 update:
Following a great chacarera workshop today led by Sebastian Arrua the mystery of the timing of the footwork for the basic version of the zapateo became less mysterious.

A simplified description of the zapateo basic cycled over two sets of six half beats is:
1 R Stamp | 2 pause | 3 L Heel kick fwd | 4 L Ball of Foot | 5 R Ball of Foot | 6 L Heel kick fwd |
1 L Stamp | 2 pause | 3 R Heel kick fwd | 4 R Ball of Foot | 5 L Ball of Foot | 6 R Heel kick fwd | etc

The timing can be recognised as effectively the same as the “Clap” timing shown above. That is:
(5) Zapateo | R x L L R L | L x R R L R | etc

The even-more-simple basic zapateo suggested by Sebastian was:
(5) Zapateo | R x L L x L | L x R R x R | etc


Another diagram:


- uhu_uhu - LiveJournal
Chacarera. [Jul. 15th, 2014| 09:25 pm ]


I couldn't get past this wonderful post with a new, hitherto unknown to me, but such a nice and uncomplicated dance. Let it be in my dance piggy bank.

Original taken from tobico in Tomáte un te, or how we taught chacarera

Argentine tango is known to many, even if they think that tango is certainly a rose in the teeth and passion is such that I can't sleep. But not everyone knows about the folk Peisan chakarera . It's time to fix it.


- Surprise! - says Ksyusha. - Today we will have a lesson on chacarera, which will be held by Polina Sycheva, respected in the tango community.
The group applauds, Polina bows.
Lined up in rows "on the mirror", we eat with our eyes Polya in joyful anticipation.
Brief excursion into the history of dance. Rhythm. First movements.

- Hands should be directed slightly forward and up - towards the sun! - In St. Petersburg there is not a damn thing, but we obediently pull our hands forward and up. After all, somewhere it is - for example, in the same Argentina, from where tanned maestro come and go to us.
- Some, while dancing the chacarera, keep their hands at shoulder level, - Fields depicts "butterfly wings byak-byak-byak". - You don't have to do that.
The group stretches even more towards the sun, reminiscent of a team of athletes in the morning exercises.

We master the first steps in three counts almost painlessly.
One-two-three, one-two-three, one-two-three... - We stomp on the spot with our hands up.
One-two-three, one-two-three, one-two-three... - Step left and right.
One-two-three, one-two-three, one-two-three... - Back and forth.
We stomp on the whole Tangomania, becoming more and more infected by this rhythm and have already actually put the Argentinean peasants to shame with an inspired performance of the dance, but then the turns begin.

Polina looks at us with a smile, and in this smile I see a whole gamut of feelings and thoughts - from "it's probably easier to shoot" to "well, at least neighing." We turn our heads and rotate our different-sized bodies - some in one direction, some in the other, some in three counts, some in their own number system and coordinates. We look surreptitiously at each other, trying to understand - where and how, damn it, to turn?!
I am spinning around my axis, the world of the white hall of Tangomania is spinning around me, the braids are parallel to the floor, the floor is trying to get out from under my feet. Behind me I hear the laughter of my chacarera comrades and the loud exclamation of My Joy: "Polka, stop! Let's talk about the turns again!"
Polina thinks - how to explain the figure to us more intelligibly? I think - how does she manage not to laugh out loud, falling to the floor and jerking her trained legs?
In the match "Argentina vs Xenia Zobova's Continued Group" the Argentine peasants lead with a devastating score.

- Rhombus, - Polina broadcasts.
After turning the rhombus, we need to wet two fingers.
- Hiro, - sensei leads us further and further along the thorny path of chacarero dancers.
Hiro! Yes, we are in our own field! The match has not yet been lost.
- The main thing is the rhythm and direction of movement. This is a simple folk dance, there is no need to pull your toes or think about where your knees are pointing.
Genetically predisposed to clubfoot, I cannot believe this happiness.

- ...No need to point your toes or think about where your knees are pointing! - Gives good news Pauline.
- So, - I ask carefully, - I don't have to think about where and how I will put my foot? The main thing is that I get into the account?
- Well, yes.
- I really, really like chacarera!!! - I shout joyfully, and judging by the enthusiastic popular support, I am not alone in this.

Vuelta, semi-vuelta... Yes! Zapateo and Sarandeo!
- Boys, your way out. Zapateo. Zapateo is done on 5 accounts. - Fields tapping with bare feet on the parquet. - To make it easier to remember the rhythm, the Argentines use the phrase "tom̀te untö". It does not mean anything special, it is only needed for the account. Now step back and practice.

To-ma-te un-cho... To-ma-te un-cho... Men with desperately stern and concentrated faces are tapping in the corners of the hall. To-ma-te un-cho... To-ma-te un-cho...

- Sarandeo. Girls, arm movements in sarandeo are swings with a wide skirt, which you kind of hold by the edges.
Having rolled up my trousers to the knee, I squat and enthusiastically wave my imaginary skirt.

We are dancing. We are happy and excited. We have courage and drive. We have fire and passion. We dance the chacarera, playing ball after ball against South American farmers.

- Diamond! Hiro! - Loudly commands General Polina. - Vuelta, vuelta! Zapateo and Sarandeo!
Vuelta! - And we run towards each other, turn around and change places.
Vuelta! - And we repeat the maneuver.
Zapateo Sarandeo! - Our machos are all so courageous and such "hey, beauty, look at me!". They knock out sparks from the floor and in every possible way prove their epic steepness. True, I hardly notice this, trying not to get confused in my virtual skirt.

Vuelta! - We again run towards each other and change places.
Poluvuelta! - I run forward, inspired by music, rhythm, footfall and the fact that you can clubfoot. I gallop over my partner and gallop on, not understanding why the finish line is so empty.
Looking back, I see a dozen and a half couples merged in an embrace. My partner, drooping, looks around alone.

Damn! - I mentally pick up these stupid skirts and rush back. Grabbing a partner and hugging him in a fast rhythm (to catch up with those who started hugging earlier), I say: "Oh, I forgot, but I mixed it up."

By the way, I had to skip and come back like this three times. What can I do - I'm a creative person, which means I'm addicted. What a half-vuelta, when a double won't be enough for me! Well, you just get the taste, and then there are already hugs and "goodbye, dear, I'll call you somehow." In general, I feel that the Argentines have not thought of everything. Peasants, what to take from them ...

Agapova promised to put on a chakarera today. I went to look for a skirt.

© tobico

And here is the dance learning guide: It is not necessary to know Spanish. Everything is clear there :) Ulyanovsk


On Sunday, December 22, the Kvartal Creative Space will host an open lesson on the Argentinean Chacarera.

It won't take long to learn one of the simplest and most fun dances in Argentina, of which there are over a hundred.

Argentinean Chacarera has absorbed many different rhythms and cultures, which is why it is so well received by everyone. Simple choreography does not require dance training. Ideas are clear and organic to our mentality. Come dance by yourself and take your friends with you.

Any comfortable casual wear will do. You can dance both barefoot and in comfortable shoes. Get a replacement.

Admission is free.

Registration for the lesson in private messages.


Event completed



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