Foxtrot Dance Steps for Beginners

Foxtrot dance steps by dancers

Foxtrot dance steps are among the most loved and well-liked ballroom dances carried out today.

Foxtrot dance steps are among the most loved and well-liked ballroom dances carried out today. Among the different styles of ballroom dance, Foxtrot is a smooth one, traveling around the line of dance. The long walking movements involve a subtle rise & fall action. Turning movements are quit similar to Waltz dace, but with a more moderate rise and fall, and more length-wise action. The Foxtrot originally started with slow and quick steps but soon evolved to include twinkles and chasses.

Foxtrot dance steps can be attributed to a longtime vaudeville star known as Henry Fox who by 1914 was featuring in the New York vaudeville scene. Fox, who was dancing for the New York Theater latter, got married to Yansci Dolly, one of the members of the Dolly sisters group. These two were often seen doing sprightly dances in between normal shows at the New York Theater. The outcome pleased the crowd and in turn the audience started referring to the fox’s dance as the “Fox Trot”.


First, just a few basics before the footwork instructions. Music to dance a Foxtrot has a four count rhythm. Most of the steps follow a pattern movement of slow-slow-quick-quick or slow-quick -quick. The basic traveling step is the focus of this article. It will follow the slow-slow-quick-quick pattern.

When dancing the Foxtrot it is important to make your steps start with the heel first (just like walking). A man always starts by using his left foot. Read on for the step by step instructions for the traveling Foxtrot basic step (man’s part).

Foxtrot Dance Steps- The Man’s Part

Step 1: Always begin by standing up straight with your shoulders back. If you slouch or lean forward you will end up getting a sore back. Have your feet pointing straight forward at a comfortable distance from each other. This will vary from person to person.

Step 2: Take one step forward with the left foot (remember the man starts with his left). The measure is to a count of slow.

Step 3: As your left foot is bearing your weight… step with your right foot forward to the count of slow. Just brush your right foot against your left as it moves past.
(These first two steps were just walking forward.)

Step 4: As your weight becomes solid on your right foot… bring your left foot to the right just brushing it and step to the left side. This is to a count of quick.

Step 5: As your weight becomes solid on your left foot…bring your right foot over to rest beside your left foot (bringing feet together). This is done to the count of quick. You are back at the original foot pattern but you have traveled about 4 feet farther ahead than your original place.

Step 6: This is the complete pattern for the traveling Foxtrot basic step (man’s foot work). Movement: Forward, Forward. Side, Together.
Footwork: Left, Right, Left, Right.
Count: Slow, Slow, Quick, Quick.

Foxtrot Dance Steps – The Woman’s Part

Step 1: Always begin by standing up straight with your shoulders back. If you slouch or lean forward you will end up getting a sore back. Have your feet pointing straight forward at a comfortable distance from each other. This will vary from person to person.

Step 2: Take one step backward with the right foot (remember the woman starts with her right). The measure is to a count of slow.

Step 3: As your right foot is bearing your weight… step with your left foot backward to the count of slow. Just brush your left foot against your right as it moves past.
(These first two steps were just walking backward.)

Step 4: As your weight becomes solid on your left foot.. bring your right foot to the left just brushing it and step to the right side. This is to a count of quick.

Step 5: As your weight becomes solid on your right foot..bring your left foot over to rest beside your right foot (bringing feet together). This is done to the count of quick. You are back at the original foot pattern but you have traveled about 4 feet farther back than your original place.

Step 6: This is the complete pattern for the traveling Foxtrot basic step (woman’s foot work). Movement: Back, Back. Side, Together.
Footwork: Right, Left, Right, Left.
Count: Slow, Slow, Quick, Quick.

Foxtrot steps for Leader & Follower

Leader always starts with the left foot. Follower starts with the right. Follower generally does natural opposite of leader’s footwork.
Rhythm Pattern (6 beats): Single, Single, Double Verbal Cue for Basic Step (Leader): Walk, brush, walk, brush, side, together

Count for Basic Step: 1 brush 2, 3 brush 4, 5, 6

Basic stepLeader: forward left (1), brush right (2), forward right (3), brush left (4), side left (5), together right (6)
Rock turn to leftLeader steps forward/back (follower: back, forward) on 1&3, turn left shoulder back on side 5, close 6. Brush feet together on slow steps.
Sway StepSide, brush, side, brush, side, close
PromenadeLeader turns ¼ to his left and opens follower to same side so both can walk in the same direction on 1&3. Turn to face partner on side, close (5, 6).
Promenade underarm turnLeader lifts left hand on count 1 of promenade walk and drops right hand off follower’s back. Follower does spiral 3/4 turn right on count 3. Face partner on side, close (5, 6).
Promenade underarm turnLeader lifts left hand on count 1 of promenade walk and drops right hand off follower’s back. Follower does spiral 3/4 turn right on count 3. Face partner on side, close (5, 6).
Zig zag (in line)Leader starts facing diagonal to wall. Alternate going forward on one set, back on the next. Add ¼ right rotation on 5, 6 of forward set; ¼ left rotation on back set.
Zig zag, outside partnerSame as regular zig zags except the lady is in outside partner position (on leader’s right as he walks forward; on his left as he walks backward).

Rhythm Pattern (4 beats): Single, Double Verbal Cue for Basic Step (Leader): Step, brush, side, together Count for Basic Step: 1 brush 2, 3, 4

BoxLeader: forward, brush, side, together; back, brush, side, together. Follower does natural opposite.
TwinkleLeader: forward, brush, side, together (turning to promenade); forward & across, side, together.
Follower: back, brush, side, together (turning to promenade);
forward & across, side, together.

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