Fake a ballroom dance with a “basic side step” (video: 2 min., 15 sec.)

by James Joseph

A basic side step will work with most kinds of dance music, from foxtrot and rumba, to salsa and swing, to unfamiliar music (this video goes with the book so it’s also posted on the Freebie Video page):

Here are two reasons why, if you need a crash course in ballroom dancing, you should learn to do a basic side step:

  1. It uses the versatile double—single—double—single rhythm pattern (that’s eight beats of music: STEP STEP—STEP HOLD—STEP STEP—STEP HOLD), which is easy and fits a vast range of tempos and musical genres. This simple footwork creates a rhythm for the feet that anybody can groove on.
  2. If you don’t have a good dance connection with your partner—two newbies will not have a good dance connection—it will be easier to move your partner side-to-side than to move her forward-and-back.

Even if you know some dances, the plight of many beginners is that they can’t identify the music and what dance to do. If you get stuck on the dance floor not knowing what dance to do, start with a basic side step; then, see what develops and transition into something else if it’s appropriate. Watch other dancers on the floor for clues.

If you’re looking for minimal choreography, the basic side step is a good foundation step pattern for a wedding dance and a slow dance. Learn it well.

Note: The basic side step will not work for a waltz because waltz music is counted in sets of 6 (all other ballroom music is counted in sets of 8).

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