The slow foxtrot is a favorite among many ballroom dancers. Think about the smooth dancing of Fred and Ginger. Because of its smoothness, it is often referred to as the Rolls Royce of the standard dances. Once you learn the foxtrot, you really feel like a dancer. The quicker version of the foxtrot developed into the quickstep, leaving the slow foxtrot with the name of foxtrot.


A beautiful, romantic dance, the foxtrot is composed of fairly simple walking steps and side steps.

The dance combines slow steps, which use two beats of music, and quick steps, which use one beat of music. The footwork timing is usually “slow, quick, quick” or “slow, slow, quick, quick.” The foxtrot must be danced very smoothly, with no jerking of the body. Timing is also a very important component of the foxtrot. As the foxtrot is more challenging than other styles of dance, it is usually recommended to master the waltz and quickstep prior to attempting it.


The foxtrot was developed in the United States in the 1920’s and is thought to have been developed in African American nightclubs before being popularized by Vernon and Irene Castle. It is believed to be named after one popularizer, entertainer Harry Fox. The foxtrot is often associated with the smooth dancing style of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. It has become one of the most popular ballroom dances in history.


The foxtrot is very similar to the waltz. Both are extremely smooth dances that travel along a line of dance counterclockwise around the floor. The rise and fall action of the foxtrot comes from the long walking movements made by the dancers. The dance combines quick steps with slow steps, giving dancers more flexibility in movement and greater dancing pleasure.


Distinctive to the foxtrot, dancers take long steps during the slower counts, and short steps during the faster counts. In order to maintain the “trot” of this dance, dancers should shorten their steps as the tempo of the music increases. Some of the steps create attractive zig-zag patterns on the dance floor. A couple of steps distinctive to the foxtrot are the Weave and the Feather Step:

  • Weave: Consists of six quick steps in a row, all on the toes. Quick steps are usually performed on the toes, with slow steps taken on the heels.
  • Feather Step: The man steps outside of the woman. This step earned its name because of the action of the step: it resembles the “feathering the oar” action in rowing.


The foxtrot is typically danced to big band swing-style music, but it may be danced to most music types. In the foxtrot, the first and third beats are accented more strongly than the second and fourth beats. The foxtrot is typically danced to big band swing-style music written in 4/4 time, with tempo around 120 to 136 beats per minute.

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