Basic Ballroom Dance Steps for Beginners

This post is based on a question from Quora.com that asked, “What are some of the moves that define different dances: tango, waltz, etc?“. As a matter of fact, there are certain steps that are among the first moves you learn as you begin your ballroom dance journey. 

With this in mind, what follows is a list of basic ballroom dance steps that are associated with a particular dance.

Please note, the first few steps include a link to a demonstration and/or quick lesson.

Tango – Corte

It looks like a back dip for the man as the lady lunges forward.

Waltz – Butterfly Step

A lovely in-and-out step that floats across the floor.

The butterfly step is a basic ballroom dance step.
Float like a butterfly when you dance.

Foxtrot- Promenade

This very popular basic ballroom dance step is sometimes called the conversation step.

Rumba – Fifth Position Breaks

The couple opens up and rocks back in fallaway position followed by side-by-side.

Cha Cha – Crossover Breaks

In this element, the couple opens up to a side-by-side position and breaks forward.

EC Swing – 2-Way Underarm Turn

This is another classic. This basic ballroom dance step has the lady doing a natural underarm turn followed by a reverse underarm turn. In other words, she turns to her right and then to her left.

Don’t hesitate to hit up YouTube for a look at the following steps.

WC Swing – Sugar Push

This step is danced in a slot in open position with a 2 hand-hold. To begin with, she sashays up to him for a kiss and he sends her back to where she started.

Hustle – Wheel

Lots of movement as the couple whirl around each other in a circular motion.

Merengue – Sweetheart to Hammerlock

Leader wraps the lady into him for a Sweetheart hold then unwinds her into a Hammerlock.

Mambo – Crossover Swivels

Classic Mambo move that goes from a crossover break into 2 hand-hold swivels.

Salsa – Crossbody Leads

Basic ballroom dance step where the leader sends the lady to the other side by having her step across as she passes in front of him.

If you’re curious about any of these moves, you might choose to try some online lessons. If so, check out this Dance Safari post, “Online Ballroom Dance Lessons – Pros and Cons“.

There’s something else you should know.

And that is, these elements are interchangeable within most of the dances.

What that means is, once you’ve learned it, you can use that basic ballroom dance step with other dances. For example, Fifth Position Breaks are not only good in Rumba. In fact, Cha Cha, Salsa, Merengue, Swing, and Waltz are just a few of the dances where Fifth Position Breaks are quite common.

To be sure, there are tons of steps you can learn in the American style, International style, or club-style dancing. However, if you manage to pick up on the 11 elements outlined above, you’ll be one happy, fun-to-dance-with partner.

A happy, fun-to-dance-with partner knows basic ballroom steps.
See? Fun!
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