To Have Two Left Feet – by Cassie Tucker

To Have Two Left Feet

DK Instructor Cassie Tucker looks at how people new to dance often lament they have "Two left feet". Is this true? Is this possible? Let's delve deeper...

To Have Two Left Feet

“I can’t dance, I have two left feet,” or more commonly when a new couple arrives at the studio: “HE can’t dance, he has two left feet!” are two of the most common phrases a dance teacher hears from new students. Having two left feet is a physical impossibility unless you’re the recipient of a foot transplant gone wrong, so what does this phrase even mean?!

The idiom “two left feet” has been in use since around 1915, and stems from taboo associated with the left side of the body. Think of phrases such as “a left-handed compliment” or “to wake up on the left side of the bed” and how they appear to have negative connotations. Humans have a tendency to designate things as good or bad, right or wrong. In historical Latin, the word for left was “sinistra” which also meant evil or sinister. In French, left is “gauche” which means awkward.

Although there is nothing to say that right-side dominance is any way superior to left-side dominance, it tends to be considered the more natural arrangement. It is, after all, called the “Right” side which may also be considered “correct.”

In a more literal sense, the phrase “two left feet” is all about balance. If by chance you did have two left feet, the big toe would be in the same position on each foot. As this digit is used for balance, you would naturally be unbalanced and prone to stumbling.

The good news is, that EVERYONE can dance, even those who claim to have two left feet. Sure, there are the precious few who prefer to dance their own steps to their own tune which may not be as visually pleasing to others, but they are in fact dancing, and may find a solo style of dance more to their suiting!