Steve Chambers
Ballroom Dance Instructor
Throughout its history, the Waltz has undergone many changes. Even before its introduction
into society as a ballroom dance, it was a country folk dance born in the seventeenth century in
the suburbs of Austria and Bavaria. By the middle of the eighteenth century, the dance had
grown in popularity and spread throughout Europe.

The Waltz was introduced into the United States in the mid-1800's. The standard Waltz tempo
at this time was still very fast and quite demanding to the average dancer, and before long,
composers were writing music which was much slower. From this music evolved a style of
Waltz called the Boston, with slower turns, and more longer, gliding movements. While the
Boston eventually faded away, it did stimulate the development of what we now know as Slow

The twentieth century saw two distinct styles of the Slow Waltz evolve. The English refined the
movements and codified the technique into the competitive International style, while the
Americans developed a Waltz with a more theatrical flavor.
Waltz is a smooth progressive dance characterized by long, flowing movements, continuous
turns, and rise & fall. Graceful and elegant, Waltz dancers glide around the floor almost
effortlessly. The American style is punctuated with lavish open movements, underarm turns,
and solo spins. Waltz is by its very definition a form of music in 3/4 meter. The first beat of each
measure is dominant with a strong downbeat accent, while beats two and three are lighter.

Viennese Waltz
The splendor of  Waltz is epitomized in the elegant and graceful Viennese Waltz. The gliding,
turning movements suggest that the dancer is skating.  The Viennese Waltz brings to mind
chandeliers and lovely ladies in their flowing gowns dancing to the lilting sounds of Strauss

The Foxtrot was introduced into the mainstream in 1913 by a man named Harry Fox (a
Vaudeville Comedian). It ultimately became the most popular and lasting dance of the twentieth

Foxtrot is a smooth progressive dance characterized by long, continuous flowing movements
across the dance floor. The American style version of the Foxtrot takes many forms: Truest to
the original Harry Fox version, is a simple combination of walks and chasses ideal for social

Late 19th century Buenos Aires teemed with immigrants from Europe and Africa, many of
whom found themselves lonely and looking for companionship in their new home. These
forlorn people found their way to the salons, seeking drinks to drown their sorrows, temporary
friendship, and any entertainment to help ease their depression. The mix of cultures combined
to bring about a new style of music, formed from African beats, Indian rhythms, Latin influences,
and the popular music of the pampas (flatlands) in Argentina. This new music was dubbed

Some historians believe that Tango gets its name from the African candomblé drum beat
known as "tan-go", while others argue that it is derived from Latin word tangere (to touch).

The dance that began as a pantomime of communication between prostitute and pimp was
filled with emotions, sexual energy and suggestive gyrations. This choreography was accented
by the melancholy drone of the bandoneon, a German instrument very similar to the accordion.
In the early 1900s, a less vulgar form of tango was exported to France, where it was further
refined and quickly gained popularity with the Parisian high society. Adding classy clothes,
ballrooms, lyrics, and an orchestra, the Tango was revolutionized for the rich and became
popular all over Europe, the USA, and was even embraced by the upper class of Argentina---the
same people who once shunned its odious beginnings.

Although criticized by Tango enthusiasts for its lack of authenticity and character, it was this
version that introduced many Americans to the world of ballroom dancing. Before long, the
American style Tango was being influenced by famous dancers of the stage and screen. It was
this influence which contributed the most to its flamboyant and theatrical character.

The American Style Tango continues to evolve. Among those influences, the technical
International (English) style Tango, the dramatic Paso Doble, and even the original Argentine
style continue to contribute to its evolution. But American is still best known as both the
simplest and the showiest of all Tangos.

The Lindy picked up where the Charleston left off. If had “swing-outs”, “break-ways” and “shine-
steps”.  With the birth of the “Swing” music in the mid 1930’s the Lindy climbed the social
ladder.  In August of 1935 at the Polomar ballroom, band leader Benny Goodman played a
Fletcher Henderson arrangement of “Stompin’ at the Savoy.”  The rest, as they say, is history.
The dance craze swept the nation; Depending on where you lived, it was the Jitterbug, the
Lindy, or the Swing.  

West Coast Swing
The official "California State Dance" is both an invigorating and challenging form of swing
dancing that has taken California by storm. The dance has appeal to all ages both young and
old and is danced to a variety of styles of music from rock to pop as well as jazz and today's top
forty music. Considered a slot dance, it needs only a minimum amount of dance space which
is one of the reasons it has developed into the most popular form of swing dancing that is
danced in the United States as well as around the Dance World today.