Learning Quickstep? 5 Dances You Need to Know First

With recent television shows like Dancing with the Stars and So You Think You Can Dance, the Quickstep has become more popular than ever. There’s no question it’s a fun and exciting dance. But, do yourself a favor before you start learning Quickstep. Study a few other dances first.

These 5 Dances will help when you’re learning Quickstep.

Slow Waltz

International Slow Waltz and Quickstep share some steps. Both dances use Natural Turns, Natural Spin Turns, and Closed Impetuses in their basics. Most dancers find it’s easier to pick up these moves in the slower Waltz tempo.

Foxtrot is a Great Help When You’re Learning Quickstep

One of the most popular social dances of the early 1900s was the Foxtrot. The dance that became known as Quickstep developed when musicians started playing the Foxtrot at a more lively tempo. Just like Waltz, Foxtrot shares some basic steps with Quickstep. Both dances use Quarter Turns to progress around the dance floor.


Once bands and orchestras started playing uptempo Ragtime music, people dancing the Quickstep began putting Charleston moves into their routines. This was done by blending the solo Charleston moves into their Quickstep.

This GIF shows couples dancing the Charleston.  Eventually Charleston moves were incorporated into the Quickstep.
The Charleston Dance

One-Step was Perfect for Ragtime Dancing

Looking for a simple way to express the fun music of the era, some people began dancing the One-Step. Along the way, there were lots of One-Step variations. Some took on animal’s characteristics and had names like Chicken Scratch, Monkey Glide, Grizzly Bear, and Bunny Hug.

Couple is dancing a One Step variation.  This makes it easier when learning Quickstep.
Here are Vernon and Irene Castle dancing a One-Step variation called the Castle Walk.

Dancing Peabody Makes Learning Quickstep Easier

Both Peabody and Quickstep are fast, feel-good dances, but here’s a surprising fact; Peabody is the faster of the two. Quickstep is danced at a tempo of 192-208 bpm (beats per minute) or 48-52 mpm (measures per minute). The American Smooth dance, Peabody, is danced at a spirited 240-248 bpm or 60-62 mpm. Because dancing at that speed makes it hard to bring your feet together, Peabody dancers pass their feet.

Read about the Peabody in this Dance Safari post, “Peabody:  A Simple Introduction to a Jazzy Dance”.

A bit of history.

The Quickstep started in New York in the early 20th century. Known as Quick Time Fox Trot and Charleston, it eventually became known as the Quickstep. To be sure, a fitting description it is.

The Quickstep became one of the International style Ballroom dances and was first used in competition in England. According to a post by Bella Ballroom, “In 1927, the English couple Frank Ford and Molly Spain danced a version of the Quick Time Foxtrot and Charleston at the Star Championships without the characteristic Charleston knee actions and made the dance for two instead of a solo.

What are Quickstep’s main characteristics?

Ragtime dancing was smooth and elegant, with couples cheerfully traveling around the room. However, since the Quickstep is based on a wide variety of dances, you’ll find things like hops, runs, skips, and kicks in it. Some say if you add a few Quickstep combinations to your social dance repertoire, you can skip working out with a nightly run.

The point is, being exposed to dances like Waltz, Foxtrot, and Charleston will be a great help to you when you’re learning the Quickstep. Why not learn the basics in these dances before you try to dance them at a much quicker pace? And, speaking of pace, when you’re comfortable with the One-Step and the Peabody, it’ll be a piece of cake to dance at the more leisurely speed of Quickstep.

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