From here and here from Spy Kids 2:

Gary Giggles is asked his knowledge of cha-cha-cha to which he replies 'Seven steps.' How many steps are there in cha-cha-cha, and what does it mean that he knows seven steps?

From Wiki:

In the American School of Ballroom Dance, the basic step spans two measures of music (frequently counted "one, two, three, four-and, five, six, seven, eight-and" with "five" marking the beginning of the second measure.

So, there are 8 steps, and while Gary doesn't know them all, he knows 7 steps i.e. all but 1 step?

  • 2
    I have no idea, but it might be a play on the common "one <item> short of a <set>" idiom pertaining to someone's intelligence. "One sandwich short a picnic," "one donut short a dozen," etc. Perhaps Gary is "one step short a cha-cha-cha"?
    – Richard
    Aug 3, 2020 at 19:20
  • @Richard Thanks! So Gary knows 7 out of 8? Do you disagree with Ray Butterworth or Aaron?
    – BCLC
    Aug 6, 2020 at 10:53

2 Answers 2


I think it's just meant to be part of the humor of the scene, without special meaning.

The Cha-Cha step is two five-step sequences. You can see a demonstration in this YouTube video. For a viewer who knows this, then the movie scene could mean he's learning the dance but not quite there, or it could mean he knows some "super-secret-spy" seven-step version. On the other hand, if you don't know the dance, you can still interpret it either way ("I know a superior version"; "I know most of it"). I interpret it as just part of the overall comic pacing of the dialogue, breaking up the otherwise yes/no answers Gary offers.

Regarding the Wiki quotation in your question, each count, including the "and" represents a step. It's five steps, across four beats of music, twice. This becomes clear in the video linked above.

  • Thanks Aaron! Gonna wait for others before ticking an answer.
    – BCLC
    Aug 4, 2020 at 4:26
  • Aaron, do you disagree with Ray Butterworth or Richard please?
    – BCLC
    Aug 6, 2020 at 10:53
  • 1
    @BCLC: Let's continue on chat
    – Aaron
    Aug 19, 2020 at 3:26
  • Re 'Just following up on your question about whether I disagree with either Ray Butterworth or Richard regarding your Gary Giggles question. I think they both make good points. Wondering why you're asking.' --> Seems I was confusing. oh lol wrong question. it seems all 3 of you are speculating really like there's not really a single answer unless clarified by spy kids writers, but...you do speculate differently from them?
    – BCLC
    Apr 15, 2022 at 16:30
  • 1
    @BCLC I do speculate differently, but, yes, I think the "real" answer could only be given by the writers.
    – Aaron
    Apr 15, 2022 at 16:38

Each kind of ballroom dance requires learning various standard figures or movements. A dance is simply a sequence of different figures. Transitioning from one figure to another can be easy or awkward depending upon which pair is involved, and knowing which figures are appropriate to choose next is a large part of choreography and dancing skill.

The simplest movement is usually called the "basic step", and each additional one tends to be slightly more difficult than the previous.

The Revised Technique of Latin-American Dancing (© 1983 Imperial Society of Teacher of Dancing — London — no ISBN) lists these twelve at the "student" level:

  1. Basic Movement
  2. Fan
  3. Alemana
  4. Hockey Stick
  5. Three Cha Cha Chas
  6. Natural Top
  7. Natural Opening Out Movement
  8. Closed Hip Twist
  9. Hand To Hand
  10. Spot Turns
  11. Time Steps
  12. New York

So, to answer the question, perhaps Gary means he's learned the first 7.

Or, perhaps he's just spouting nonsense that the writers inserted to make him sound cool.

  • Thanks Ray Butterworth! Do you disagree with Aaron or Richard please?
    – BCLC
    Aug 6, 2020 at 10:52
  • 1
    I don't disagree with the other responses. We are all simply speculating. A "correct" answer would have to originate from the scriptwriters (or director if it was ad-libbed). Aug 6, 2020 at 12:18
  • oh lol wrong question. i mean just so i undestand, is your speculation therefore different from them?
    – BCLC
    Aug 6, 2020 at 13:02

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