A Tale of Two Dances Part 1: Foxtrot – by Cassie Tucker

A Tale of Two Dances Part 1: Foxtrot


In today's instalment, DK Ballroom Instructor Cassie Tucker looks at the origins of one of Standard Ballroom's newer (and elegantly smooth) dances, the Foxtrot...

Once upon a time in the year 1912, ragtime music was all the rage and a new dancing sensation was emerging in the African America Nightclubs. A fast, fun, free-form style of dance was developing, breaking the traditions of arm-length hold and strict choreography exhibited by the Waltzes and Polkas of the day. In 1914 a form of this exciting new dance was introduced to the world as Foxtrot, the name believed to have originated from the comedian and entertainer who popularised it; Harry Fox.

Foxtrot quickly become the most popular dance of the time, quickly overtaking both Tango and Waltz in popularity. Even the Lindy Hop when it arrived couldn’t touch it. The Foxtrot was danced in a much closer hold and allowed for greater variations in routines. When dancing duo Vernon and Irene Castle discovered the Foxtrot, they fell in love with it, bringing smoother lines and a more sensual feel to the dance, a style more akin to the more melodic flavour of music which began emerging in 1915.

When the Charleston hit the scenes in 1925, the upbeat tempo lead to some bands playing the old foxtrot music too fast. Some dancers liked their foxtrot fast, some liked it slow, so the dance branched into two distinct forms: a slow version which become the Slow Foxtrot and a faster variant which eventually became the Quickstep. Slow Foxtrot was standardised by Arthur Murray in 1927, producing the flowing, graceful form of dance we now know and love as International Foxtrot. A more relaxed version of the foxtrot is still danced today and is known as the Social Foxtrot.