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HISTORY OF STEPPIN`

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HISTORY OF STEPPIN`

A Brief History of Steppin'

Steppin' originated in the 1930's as the Jitterbug. By the 1960's it was known as the Bop, which evolved into a unique style of its own called Steppin' – in the city of Chicago. Steppin' developed a phenomenal era of its own; it is not just a dance but the addictive aura of music, smooth moves, stylish dress (reminiscent of the 1920s) and the mood of a by-gone era. Steppin’ is truly a hypnotic work of art and captivates people of all ages and ethnic groups. As the saying goes: “Steppin' is a way of life.”

The suave rhythm of this dance which incorporates gliding, striding and dipping your partner during the 1950's and 1960's eras, to the popular music of young groups – such as the Temptations and other R&B artists – filtrated the African-American community across the United States. From the fashionable clubs (Peps in Philadelphia, Savoy in Chicago, and now at JT's Bourbon St. in Rockford, IL etc.) to the juke joints (speakeasys), Steppin’ – in the guise of the Jitterbug and the Bop – took root and found acceptance in both Black and White communities.

After the fall of the popular Disco era, the Bop was rejuvenated and became known as Steppin'. The emergence of Steppin’ contests and Steppin' Balls became popular, along with music seemingly reserved for Steppin’. Steppin' swept the nation as a dance that not only depended upon smooth moves and creativity but high fashion (chic dress by both the male and female steppers) to complete its ambiance. Steppin' is as much a part of the African-American community's culture and history as is its music from the early days of Jazz, and Rhythm ‘n Blues up to the current style of Soul and Rap music.

DANCE  ETIQUETTE

Walk to the lady, make eye contact, introduce yourself, "Hi, my name is ..." and ask her "May I have this dance?" or something to that effect. Give the Lady a compliment about her appearance. Extend your hand and lead her onto the dance floor on your left arm (walk with her onto the floor). Don't march out there. After the dance, take her and lead her, approximately, back to the place from where you picked her up, usually the edge of the dance floor. Thank her for the dance!

 Determine the level of experience the lady has with dancing. A good leader will always match his skills with that of his follower (i.e. making it easier for her and you also) to have an enjoyable dance). Obviously, if she is a beginner you don't want to drag her forcefully around the floor with complicated arm movements, and vice versa. If she is advanced, you don't want to keep doing the basics forever, although this can be ok in some situations.

It often happens that two partners dancing socially are not at the same level. It is important that the more experienced partner dances at the level of the less experienced partner. Gentlemen: when dancing with a new partner, start with simple moves, and gradually work your way up to more complicated patterns. You will discover a comfort level. It is better to concentrate on what both partners can do, and enjoy the dance.

Add more social to your dance. The ladies love it!!! While on the dance floor, give the lady a compliment about her moves: Make her feel light on her feet, good about herself, as well as dancing with you.


Be personable, smile, and make eye contact with your partner. Try to project a warm positive image on the dance floor, even if that is not your personal style.

  • Ask four different Ladies at each table to dance. Rotate to the next table after 4 dances.
  • Today's beginners will be the good dancers of tomorrow, so be nice to them and dance with them.
  • Be considerate of other couples on the floor. Exercise good floor vision and protect your Lady. Do not cut other couples off.
  • Spend more time in the social!
  • Stationary dancers (.e.g. in place dancers) stay in the middle, traveling dancers move on the boundary along the line of dance.
  • Avoid moves that your partner cannot do: dance to the level of your partner.
  • Never blame your partner for missteps! Say, "I'm sorry that was me".
  • No teaching on the floor! This is a party!
  • Smile, be warm and personable, and be nice. Say, "I hope you will dance with me again".
  • According to Tip Toe Productions, Gentlemen must be smooth and not ruff with the dance. A gentleman's hands must be under control in order to lead the dance with the lady always in mind. Ladies must understand the signal from the gentlemen, as the gentlemen positions himself for the next move that will follow.


  • Ladies must be smooth and not wild. Do not lead the dance, let the gentlemen lead you into the moves and you follow his lead. Do not attempt to guess the next move you think he is going to make. Ladies must be able to follow the gentlemen without pulling, hunching shoulders, or crossing the leg while stepping back. .


  • Article taken from the Gentlemenofballroom.com site.

     Determine the level of experience the lady has with dancing. A good leader will always match his skills with that of his follower (i.e. making it easier for her and you also) to have an enjoyable dance). Obviously, if she is a beginner you don't want to drag her forcefully around the floor with complicated arm movements, and vice versa. If she is advanced, you don't want to keep doing the basics forever, although this can be ok in some situations.

    It often happens that two partners dancing socially are not at the same level. It is important that the more experienced partner dances at the level of the less experienced partner. Gentlemen: when dancing with a new partner, start with simple moves, and gradually work your way up to more complicated patterns. You will discover a comfort level. It is better to concentrate on what both partners can do, and enjoy the dance.

    Add more social to your dance. The ladies love it!!! While on the dance floor, give the lady a compliment about her moves: Make her feel light on her feet, good about herself, as well as dancing with you.


    Be personable, smile, and make eye contact with your partner. Try to project a warm positive image on the dance floor, even if that is not your personal style.

  • Ask four different Ladies at each table to dance. Rotate to the next table after 4 dances.
  • Today's beginners will be the good dancers of tomorrow, so be nice to them and dance with them.
  • Be considerate of other couples on the floor. Exercise good floor vision and protect your Lady. Do not cut other couples off.
  • Spend more time in the social!
  • Stationary dancers (.e.g. in place dancers) stay in the middle, traveling dancers move on the boundary along the line of dance.
  • Avoid moves that your partner cannot do: dance to the level of your partner.
  • Never blame your partner for missteps! Say, "I'm sorry that was me".
  • No teaching on the floor! This is a party!
  • Smile, be warm and personable, and be nice. Say, "I hope you will dance with me again".
  • According to Tip Toe Productions, Gentlemen must be smooth and not ruff with the dance. A gentleman's hands must be under control in order to lead the dance with the lady always in mind. Ladies must understand the signal from the gentlemen, as the gentlemen positions himself for the next move that will follow.


  • Ladies must be smooth and not wild. Do not lead the dance, let the gentlemen lead you into the moves and you follow his lead. Do not attempt to guess the next move you think he is going to make. Ladies must be able to follow the gentlemen without pulling, hunching shoulders, or crossing the leg while stepping back. .


  • Article taken from the Gentlemenofballroom.com site.