On Foxtrot

My favorite dance is the Foxtrot. It’s a proper dance with proper music. It has class. (Anton du Beke)

Danced to the music of crooners, Foxtrot is a long, smooth, continuous dance designed to move down the floor and around clockwise (unless a pair has the floor to themselves as above). It’s easy, flowing manner displays face, style, and elegance … just imagine Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.

Foxtrot’s origins are debatable, some have it beginning in the 1890s. Whoever is right, there is no doubt that the dance became popular.

There no question that early Foxtrot was faster than today as it was originally danced to ragtime. By the time of this film, the tempo had slowed down.

Danced in 4-4 (4/4) time, Foxtrot is smooth and graceful … not jerky … not bouncy.

Its easy walking style helped make Foxtrot the most popular dance of the 1920s and 1930s.

Overtime, Foxtrot morphed into slow and fast versions, thus today Foxtrot is slower and Quickstep is fast. Each have similar steps, but done at different tempos. Even today, American and International versions differences include tempo. (To me, this is International style, which is slower.)

Foxtrot is a combination of slows and quicks …. slow walking steps (each using two beats of music) followed by quick steps (each using one beat).

Because of the footwork, instructors often say “slow, slow, quick, quick” or “slow, quick, quick” in a repeated pattern

In some “slow, quick, quick” styles, the first quick is lengthened into an almost “slow, slow, quick”.

Foxtrot is a combination of walks, chasses, and turns with a rise-and-fall action from heel leads on the slows, but toe leads on the quicks. Partners commonly remain in hold most of the time … and at least in contact.

Although the timing of the music is different, many Foxtrot steps are usable in Waltz, and vice versa.

Arthur Murray started his road to fame and fortune by printing the basic step of the Foxtrot and selling them for 10 cents each through the mail. It was the first time anyone had printed dance steps and sold them mail-order.

Quickstep, Peabody, and Slow Fox are variations – thus in a group of social dancers, styles are (in my opinion) the most wide-ranging of all the ballroom dances

To close, enjoy this collection of Dancing with the Stars clips that have been brilliantly compiled, then placed into the same song.

Ready to dance?

69 thoughts on “On Foxtrot

  1. Ahhhh… it is such a beautifully smooth dance when done well! Though I pity the poor women when their head is tilted so far back as in the first video and the Wilkins/Demidova… I was getting a crick in my neck from just watching!

    Do YOU dance aFA? I would had I a partner…Hubs is so not interested!


  2. Oh Frank! I have just spent a most delightful half hour perusing this post and watching all but one [not available in your country] videos – just wonderful!! The first dance pair are extraordinary are they not. That man seemingly moves nothing except legs – and they simply glide about the floor! I am so in love with good quality dancing and so admire those who do it. I enjoyed reading your thoughts too. I also very much enjoyed the group foxtrot. The couples did so well and the audience was obviously extremely proud of them all. Please tell me you and your wife were in there too.


  3. So delightful! I love the information but especially the video clips. I an always entranced to see a practiced couple dance together–it is mesmerizing. Thanks for sharing. I expect you have watched the quirky movie “Strictly Ballroom.” Really fun.


    • Patti,
      I don’t believe we’ve seen the movie Strictly Ballroom. Nonetheless, glad you enjoyed this post. I enjoyed searching for videos that fit what I wanted to show … and then I stumbled across the last one toward the end of my search.


  4. As with my siblings, I was born with two left feet, Frank, but somehow my niece. Sweet Pea, was not. She has LOVED dancing her entire life and is even minoring in it in college. That kid is fit! I am sure she could glide around the dance floor doing the fox trot. I must admit that I’m such a natural clod, until I read this post I was clueless about which dance this one was. Thanks for enlightening me.


  5. I remember watching the Arthur Murray show on TV as a small child…it would open with “Tales From The Vienna Woods” and everyone twirling in 3/4 time. They demonstrated many dances, including the fox trot, but not as sexy as what we see now. I can still hear Katherine Murray at the end of the show saying:”Put a little fun in your life…try dahncing!”

    Dancing: “The vertical expression of a horizontal desire, legalized by music.”–George Bernard Shaw.
    “Sex in dance is in the eyes of the beholder. I never thought my dances sexy. I suppose that’s because I see myself with my face washed and to me I look like a rabbit.”—Gwen Verdon


  6. Thanks for the much needed spirit-lift your Foxtrot post provided as I pack my bags for a two year trip into the wilderness. “The Foxtrot In The Jazz Age” was a special keeper.


  7. So interesting, Frank. I didn’t realize there had been such an evolution in the fox trot and I really enjoy your description and history. We took lessons with Arthur Murray at one time, and I remember how much I enjoyed the Fox Trot. I think that some of the enjoyment came from the music that was played to accompany the practicing. At the time there was a lot of Norah Jones and Michael Buble. It was also during the first season of DWTS…so I felt very current. LOL! Nice post, Frank. I enjoyed it.


    • Debra,
      As I like to say, everything has a history. And because we associate this dance with a certain style of music, looking at the history was very helpful. Because I know you enjoy DWTS, I hope you watched the last video! … and cheers to your love for foxtrot music.


  8. As I wander through my collection of saved, have to get back and read blogs I come to this one. What a sheer delight. Every single video, loved them all; though I must admit the history lesson was great fun. What was even better? When one was finished there were hidden gems offered up to continue to watch, couldn’t resist them, I think I must have spent at least half an hour just watching dance.

    thanks for this early morning slice of heaven.


    • Val,
      To me, the fact that someone took so much time and got even more joy is a HUGE WOW! As you know, the sequence tells a story. For me, the two I enjoy the most are 1) the group dance with the green dresses and 2) the last one from DWTS. Thanks again for the special feeling you gave me this morning.


  9. Foxtrot, beautiful and very graceful dance …. I like the classic, without props and fancy stuff. My favorite video is the top one – just magical . and I like young Derek opening.


  10. My sister and I used to to take dancing lessons when we were young. We loved it and continued on and off over the years. Unfortunately I have never found a man who likes to dance, so I don’t do it any more. I think it is so much fun and I would love to have a dance partner.


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