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Short Descriptions/Histories of Selected Ballroom Dances

Club Dances


The partner form of Hustle first became popular in 1977 when it was included in the movie “Saturday Night Fever.”  Though that initial popularity faded, Hustle stayed around and eventually became an accepted “Ballroom Dance.”  It is a slot dance, meaning that the couple dances in a “slot” pattern, with fast changes of places within that slot.  It then expands to have the lady do many spins out and back, and is characterized by constant movement, especially by the lady. 

Nightclub Two-Step
Nightclub Two-Step was invented by Buddy Schwimmer in 1965, when he was 15 years old.  He patterned the basic step of the dance after the Cross-Step-Cross-Touch step of the Surfer Stomp, a club dance popular at that time. The dance is danced to slow 4-count music with a Quick-Quick-Slow pattern.  It is very smooth and lyrical and danced in traditional closed and/or open dance hold with no Cuban motion.  Though not one of the traditional competition “Ballroom” dances, Nightclub Two-Step has grown steadily in popularity throughout the years since its inception.  It is considered one of the Ballroom “Club” dances, joining other dances such as “Hustle”, “Salsa” and “Merengue.”  Many of the step patterns in Nightclub Two-Step are similar to those found in Salsa; Buddy has a list of 123 codified steps! Incidentally, you may recognize Buddy’s name as an award winning West Coast Swing dancer; he also is the father of “So You Think You Can Dance” second season’s winner Benji Schwimmer, and the third season’s 4th place finalist Lacey Schwimmer, now of “Dancing with the Stars”.

Salsa dancing originated in Cuba and other Caribbean Islands, and is a mixture of African Dance with European styling.  When people refer to Salsa as being a “Hot Dance”, it most likely stems from the definition of the word “salsa” in American Spanish which means a “sauce with a spicy flavor.”  Salsa is danced to music with four beats; the basic step consists of three weight-changes followed by a ‘Hold” on count four.  Steps and amalgamations for Salsa and Mambo are often the same; the main difference is that in Salsa the dancer dances on 1-2-3 and holds on the four count while in Mambo the dancer holds the one count and dances on 2-3-4.

West Coast Swing
West Coast Swing is a “Slot” dance, meaning the couples dance in an imaginary rectangle, being careful to stay within that space when changing places.  It originated from Lindy Hop and there are many variations of it.  West Coast Swing was named the official dance of the state of California in 1988.  (FYI – Indiana does not have an official state dance.)  The music for West Coast Swing is typically slower than the music for East Coast Swing.