Dance Styles

Foxtrot

The foxtrot is a smooth progressive dance characterized by long, continuous flowing movements across the dance floor. It is danced to big band (usually vocal) music, and the feeling is one of elegance and sophistication. The dance is similar in its look to waltz, although the rhythm is 4/4 instead of 3/4 time. Developed in the 1920's, the foxtrot reached its height of popularity in the 1930's, and remains practiced today.

At its inception, the foxtrot was originally danced to ragtime. Today, the dance is customarily accompanied by the same big band music to which swing is also danced.

From the late teens through the 1940s, the foxtrot was certainly the most popular fast dance and the vast majority of records issued during these years were foxtrots. The waltz and tango, while popular, never overtook the foxtrot. Even the popularity of the lindy hop in the 1940s did not affect the foxtrot's popularity, since it could be danced to the same records used to accompany the lindy hop.

Over time, the foxtrot split into slow and quick versions, referred to as "foxtrot" and “quick step” respectively. In the slow category, further distinctions exist between the International or English style of the foxtrot and the continuity American style, both built around a slow-quick-quick rhythm at the slowest tempo, and the social American style using a slow-slow-quick-quick rhythm at a somewhat faster pace. In the context of International Standard category of ballroom dances, for some time the foxtrot was called "Slow Foxtrot", or "Slowfox". These names are still in use, to distinguish from other types of foxtrots.

Quick Step

The Quick step is a descendent of the Boston and the One Step which appeared on the scene with the arrival of Ragtime and Jazz music in America towards the end of the nineteenth century. These two were the first dances based on the forward step. They used a heel lead followed by two or more steps on the balls of the feet.

It was first performed on stage in New York in 1922 in a black revue by George White, and then in the stage show "Running Wild" in 1923 by the Ziegfeld Follies, which toured U.S.A. It was popularized in Europe by Josephine Baker in Paris in the 1920's. It was danced with wild swinging arms and side kicks to music at 200 to 240 beats per minute. It subsequently became very popular worldwide, but the wild character of the dance induced many sedate ballrooms either to ban it altogether, or to put up notices saying simply "PCQ", standing for "Please Charleston Quietly".

The Black Bottom and the Shimmy became very popular in the USA between 1910 to 1920, and became a national craze after being performed in the Ziegfeld Follies in 1922. These dances became absorbed into a faster version of Foxtrot after a visit by Paul Whiteman's band to the UK in 1923, becoming known as the Quickstep.

The Quickstep was developed to interpret music with a faster tempo. It is a fast moving dance based on walks and Chasses danced to music of four beats per bar at 50 bars per minute, or 200 beats per minute. It retains the walks, runs, chasses and turns, of the original Foxtrot, with some other fast figures such as locks, hops, and skips added.

Waltz

Waltz is said to be from the old German word walzen meaning to roll, turn, or to glide.

Waltz is a ballroom dance in 3/4 time with strong accent on the first beat and a basic pattern of step-step-close.  The word Waltz comes from the old German word walzen, which means to roll, turn or to glide.

Waltz is a dance born in the suburbs of Vienna and in the alpine region of Austria. As early as the seventeenth century, waltzes were played in the ballrooms of the Hapsburg court. The weller, or turning dances, were danced by peasants in Austria and Bavaria even before that time. Many of the familiar waltz tunes can be traced back to simple peasant yodeling melodies.

It was the first dance that allowed the man to come close to the lady, so close he put his arm round her waist. The romance of the waltz should always be remembered, it is the first dance most married couples do, the last waltz dictated who took you home, and the snowball waltz, where partners constantly change, allows you to meet new members of the opposite sex. The waltz is a graceful fun romantic dance with turns, hesitations, changes of direction and the occasional double step in place of the normal step. The music should also be fun and romantic, waltzing to plodding music results in a plodding dance.

Competition and medal dancers want a slower tempo, giving them time to complete the intricate steps and turns, they will want time to drag their foot into position on the last beat before gliding away on the first beat of the next bar. Social dancers prefer a slightly quicker tempo otherwise they end up waiting between steps for the next beat.

Viennese Waltz

The Waltz is a dance performed to music with three beats to the bar, and gives the dance a delightful romantic lift.

The first record of a dance to 3/4 rhythm is a peasant dance of the Provence area of France in 1559, as a piece of folk music called the Volta, although the Volta has also been claimed to be an Italian folk dance at this time. The word "Volta" means "the turn" in Italian. This, even in its earliest days, the dance appears to have involved the couple turning as they danced.

During the 16th Century, the Volta became popular in the royal courts of Western Europe. The Volta required the partners to dance in a closed position but with the lady to the left of the man! As in any turning dance, as the couple perform their step around their partner, they have to take a larger than usual step to get from one side of their partner to the other. In order to do this in the Volta, the partners had to hold each other in such a close embrace that many declared it immoral. Louis XIII (1610-1613) had it banned from court on this account.

Thus although the Volta may have originally been in 3 time, it evolved to be in 5 time. In 1754 the first music for the actual "Waltzen" appeared in Germany. Any connection between the Waltzen and the Volta remains obscure, except that the word "waltzen" in German also means "to revolve".

The dance became very popular in Vienna, with large dance halls being opened to accommodate the craze. In 1812 the dance was introduced into England under the name of the German Waltz and it caused a great sensation. Through the 19th Century, the danced stabilized, and was further popularized by the music of Josef and Johann Strauss.

Currently, the Viennese Waltz is danced at a tempo of about 180 beats per minute, with a limited range of figures: change steps, hesitations, hovers, passing changes, natural and reverse turns, (traveling or on the spot as Fleckers), and the contra check.

Tango

Tango dance originated in Rio de la Plata, and spread to the rest of the world soon after.

Early tango was known as tango criollo. Today, there are different types of tango dance such as Argentine tango or Uruguayan. Popularly and among tango dancing circles, the authentic tango is considered to be the one which is closest to that originally danced in Argentina and Uruguay.

Ballroom tango, divided in recent decades into the "International" (Yogita) and "European" styles, has descended from the tango styles that developed when the tango first went abroad to Europe and North America. The dance was simplified, adapted to the preferences of conventional ballroom dancers, and incorporated into the repertoire used in International Ballroom dance competitions. English tango was first codified in October 1922, when it was proposed that it should only be danced to modern tunes, ideally at 30 bars per minutes (i.e. 120 beats per minute – assuming a 4/4 measure).

Subsequently the English tango evolved mainly as a highly competitive dance, while the American tango evolved as an un-judged social dance with an emphasis on leading and following skills. This has led to some principal distinctions in basic technique and style. Nevertheless there are quite a few competitions held in the American style, and of course mutual borrowing of technique and dance patterns happens all the time.

Ballroom tangos use different music and styling from the tangos from the Rio de la Plata region (Uruguay and Argentina), with more staccato movements and the characteristic "head snaps". The head snaps are totally foreign to Argentine and Uruguayan tango, and were introduced in 1934 under the influence of a similar movement in the legs and feet of the tango from the Rio de la Plata, and the theatrical movements of the pasodoble. This style became very popular in Germany and was soon introduced to England.

Rumba

Rumba is the dance of love. Some say it had its origins in fertility dances, with scantily clad couples rubbing against each other, a bit like competition dances today really. The Rumba is all about courtship, the man chasing after the lady, she coyly pulling away then relenting only to move away again.

Rumba music, like the dance, should be about love and passion. The love theme from Titanic has proved a very popular Rumba.

If everyone on the floor says you got the tempo right then thank the couple for coming, and hope more turn up to your next dance. Everyone has their own favorite tempo, medallists will probably want it slow, competition dancers faster, they tend to dance the dance of marriage with arguments, pushing and shoving, though the competition tempo has just been slowed down so this may change. Social dancers will probably be happy with middle of the range.

Cha-Cha

Originally known as the Cha-Cha-Cha. Became popular about 1954. Cha Cha is an offshoot of the Mambo. In the slow Mambo tempo, there was a distinct sound in the music that people began dancing to, calling the step the "Triple" Mambo. Eventually it evolved into a separate dance, known today as the Cha Cha Cha.

The dance consists of three quick steps (triple step or cha cha cha) and two slower steps.

Cha-cha-cha may be either danced to authentic Cuban music, or Latin Pop or Latin Rock. The music for the international ballroom cha-cha-cha is energetic and with a steady beat. The Cuban cha-cha-cha is more sensual and may involve complex polyrhythms.

Styles of cha-cha-cha dance may differ in the place of the chasse in the rhythmical structure. The original Cuban and the ballroom cha-cha-cha count is "two, three, cha cha cha" or "four-and-one, two, three".

Like most Latin dances, it is done with the feet remaining close to the floor (toe steps). The dancers hips are relaxed to allow free movement in the pelvic area as a result of the bending and straightening of the knees. The upper body shifts over the supporting foot as the steps are taken (foot moves, body follows). This hip action is called Latin or Cuban motion.

Samba

Samba is an old Brazilian style of dance with many variations, is African in origin. It has been performed as a street dance at carnival, the pre-Lenten celebration, for almost 100 years. Many versions of the Samba (from Baion to Marcha) are danced at the local carnival in Rio. The ballroom Samba or Carioca Samba is derived from the rural "Rocking Samba" and has been known for many years. (The Carioca is a small river that runs through Rio de Janiero - hence the name Carioca refers to the people of Rio.) Today Samba is still very popular in Rio. During carnival time there are "schools of Samba" involving thousands of elaborately costumed dancers presenting a national theme based on music typical of Brazil and Rio in particular.

The Samba (also known as the Brazilian Waltz) is now a moderately popular ballroom dance, limited pretty much to experienced ballroom dancers because of its speed.

Bolero

Bolero is a genre of slow-tempo Latin music and its associated dance and song. There are Spanish and Cuban forms which are both significant and which have separate origins.

The term is also used for some art music. In all its forms, the bolero has been popular for over a century.

The Bolero is often called the Cuban "Dance of Love", because of its slow and dreamy tempo, and it's beautiful melodies.

In the dance known as Bolero is one of the competition dances in American Rhythm ballroom dance category. The first step is typically taken on the first beat, held during the second beat with two more steps falling on beats three and four (cued as "slow-quick-quick"). In competitive dance the music is in 4/4 time and will range between 96 to 104 bpm. This dance is quite different from the other American Rhythm dances in that it not only requires Cuban motion but rises and falls such as found in waltz and contra body movement.   Popular music for this dance style need not be Latin in origin.

Merengue

Meringue is a very easy dance for beginners. The Merengue basic is danced as a walking step with a step taken on every beat of music. While hip movement is a must for Merengue, the amount of hip movement varies with personal preference. Sometimes called the sister dance to Salsa, Merengue originated in the Caribbean around the 1850's and has grown in popularity as a worldwide dance due in part to the simplicity of the dance.  Think of the song Hot Hot Hot, and that’s Merengue!

Mambo

The Mambo dance originated in Cuba where there were substantial settlements of Haitians. In the back country of Haiti, the "Mambo" is a voodoo priestess, who serves the villagers as counselor, healer, exorcist, soothsayer, spiritual advisor, and organizer of public entertainment. However, there is not a folk dance in Haiti called the "Mambo."

The fusion of Swing and Cuban music produced this fascinating rhythm and in turn created a new sensational dance. The Mambo could not have been conceived earlier since up to that time, the Cuban and American Jazz were still not wedded. The "Mambo" dance is attributed to Perez Prado who introduced it at La Tropicana night-club in Havana in 1943. Since then other Latin American band leaders such as Tito Rodriquez, Pupi Campo, Tito Puente, Machito and Xavier Cugat have achieved styles of their own and furthered the Mambo craze.

The Mambo was originally played as any Rumba with a riff ending. It may be described as a riff or a Rumba with a break or emphasis on 2 and 4 in 4/4 time. Native Cubans or musicians without any training would break on any beat.

It first appeared in the United States in New York's Park Plaza Ballroom - a favorite hangout of enthusiastic dancers from Harlem. The Mambo gained its excitement in 1947 at the Palladium and other renowned places such as The China Doll, Havana Madrid and Birdland.

Popular Mambo songs include "Mambo Italiano", "Papa Loves Mambo", "Mambo #5", "I Saw Mommy Do The Mambo", and "They Were Doin' The Mambo". 'Dance City', the superb CD album featuring Hernandez and the Mambo Kings Orchestra, stands on its own as one of the best recordings of its kind in years, an energetic big band-style session that recalls the glory days of Tito Puente and Tito Rodriguez.

Most people treat Mambo as a very fast dance. In essence, it is a slow and precise dance that doesn't move very much.

Salsa

Salsa is a combination of many Latin and Afro-Caribbean dances. Each played a large part in its evolution.

Salsa is similar to Mambo in that both have a pattern of six steps danced over eight counts of music. The dances share many of the same moves. In Salsa, turns have become an important feature, so the overall look and feel are quite different form those of Mambo. Mambo moves generally forward and backward, whereas, Salsa has more of a side to side feel.

Hustle

The Hustle (Disco) was born in the Latin Clubs and Discos of the 1970’s. It has lots of open traveling movements, spins and syncopations and is danced to, disco and house music with a pulsing beat.. The Hustle is often peppered with showy moves that competitive dancers weaved into their repertoire throughout the late 1970’s and 1980’s; as it continued to evolve, Hustle began to borrow from other dance styles. These included Smooth Ballroom, from which it took traveling movements and pivots, as well as other partner dance forms such as Swing, the Latin Rhythm dances, Martial arts, Gymnastics, Ballet training, and good old fashioned attitude making for crowd pleasing performance. Hustle combined dance patterns and movements that influenced the way that most partner dances are performed today.

Even today the dance continues to evolve, yet it has never lost its basic count since the mid-1970’s of “&1-2-3”. The Hustle is the last authentic American partner dance born and cultivated here in the United States.

Night Club Two-Step

The Night Club Two Step is an easy dance that is an extremely useful social dance style.  Many of your mid to slow tempo songs are perfect for the Night Club Two Step.  It has a characteristic rock step followed by a side step, which is actually a 5th position break. The dance has 8 beats and rarely changes from the 1 & 2 count. The tempo is 30-34 bars per minute and is often done to medium tempo music.

Not to be confused with country two step, this club-style Two Step dance style features a swaying lilt. It was created and popularized by California dance teacher Buddy Schwimmer more than 30 years ago when he was only 15.

Club Slow Dance

Ever wonder how to dance to those really slow songs at a party, wedding or nightclub?

Nightclub Slow Dance offers you great versatility & will allow you to fit right in anywhere they are slow dancing.  It consists of stationary & traveling moves as well as Underarm turns for both men and woman. 
Nightclub slow dance will help you avoid sitting out the "slow" songs or dancing the same boring "walking in place" steps for three long .

East Coast Swing/Jitterbug/Lindy-Hop

Swing music has an infectious accent on the upbeat and makes even non-dancers tap their feet, and snap their fingers. The most elemental definition of Swing dancing is any style of dancing to Swing music, and there are hundreds of styles. Swing dancing is usually characterized by its bounce and energy as well as lots of spins or under arm turns.

The original style of Swing dancing is the Lindy Hop which was named by Shorty George Snowden in 1927 after Charles Lindberg’s famed nonstop flight across the Atlantic.

Known by many for its acrobatic moves called aerials, Lindy Hop is also danced socially featuring 8 count and 6 count patterns, often with kicking or Charleston steps. Examples of Lindy Hop can be seen in recent movies such as Malcolm X or Swing Kids, or older movies like A Day at the Races or Hellzapoppin. There are many different definitions and styles, but when most people refer to basic swing dancing, they are referring to a simplified version of the original Lindy Hop, favoring 6 count moves and also referred to as 6- count swing, east coast swing, jitterbug, and Lindy.

Six-count swing can be danced to jazz or big band music from speeds of 110 beats per minute to 300 beats per minute, but most people enjoy dancing to the 120-180 beat per minute range. The 6 count basic can be modified in many ways, but is most common as rock-step, triple-step, triple-step (often referred to as triple time or triple step swing) or rock-step, step, step (often referred to as single step or single time swing). 6 count swing is easy to learn, especially when done with the single step rhythm. The triple step rhythm is better suited for slower songs, and can be substituted for the single step once you are comfortable with the steps. Swing music and dancing are two of the most important cultural imports of America, learning how to dance can be a great way to connect with a part of our history.

Single step, triple step, Charleston, Lindy Hop and Jitterbug all fall under the category of East Coast Swing.

Balboa

Balboa today is commonly used both as a term to describe a fusion of dances that originated in Southern California during the 1920s and 1930s, and also referring to a specific dance from that era that was the original Balboa (sometimes also referred to as Pure-Bal). The original Balboa dance is a form of swing dance that started as early as 1915 and gained in popularity in the 1930s and 1940s. It is danced primarily in close embrace, and is led with a full body connection. The art of Balboa is in the subtle communication between the lead and follow, including weight shifts, which most viewers cannot see. As a result, Balboa is considered more of a "dancer's dance" than a "spectator's dance". Its exact origins are obscure, especially as most of the original Balboa dancers have since died.

Balboa is danced to a wide variety of tempos. Because the basic step takes up such a small space, Balboa can be danced to fast music (over 300 beats per minute). Balboa is also danced to slow music (under 100 beats per minute), which allows more time for intricate footwork and variations.