For many dancers it may not be clear what it is meant by the “code of the tango.”
The ‘code’ is simple an agreed prescription for the way the woman crosses one of her legs relative to where the man is (her right or her left) when she dances around him.
When she dances to the left of the man, her left leg crosses inside and outside the embrace alternating until her direction changes. The salida simple is the most common consequence of applying the code. After her initial lateral step, the woman first crosses her left leg outside the embrace with a back step, follows with an inside back diagonal with her right leg, and then she crosses her left leg inside the embrace in front of her right as she steps back .
When she dances to the right of the man, her right leg alternates crossing inside (in front of her left) and outside (behind her left leg) until her direction changes.
The importance of the code is that it establishes the natural position of the woman’s legs within the structure of the dance and serve as the basis for the man’s option to improvise.
The use of the word code was first introduced by Valorie Hart and Alberto Paz in the pages of El Firulete in an attempt to clarify the concept of the original Spanish word CODIGO, i.e. rule, agreement, to the teaching of tango.