Open Positions

Type    Position
Level     Level 1 Beginner
Other Names Butterfly Position, Open Facing, etc. depending on the setup, see variations. Moves to get into it are called Open Break, Snag, Butterfly Catch, etc.
Comes From     The Basic Step (Closed Position), Outside TurnLoopArchToss Away SpinFall Through DipFall For Me DipHigh Five SpinArm Push SpinHip Push SpinStraight Jacket TwistZig-zag, Sway Step, AZ Winter, Gravedigger, Can Opener, Backflip, Shoulder Lean,
Leads To     Hammerlock, Pretzel, Barrel Roll, Belt LoopPull Up DipSpinnerooSliding DoorLoopArchToss Away SpinFall Through DipZig-zag, Candlestick, Knee Throw, Can Opener, Backflip, Shoulder Lean (RR),


There are several types of Open Positions, but for ease I will put them all in the same article.

In Open Position partners are facing the same wall with the lead’s right hand and the follow’s left hand joined. This would occur after a move such as the Spin Out or go directly from closed to open with an open break.

Left Open would be the same but with the follow on the other side. It’s less common since most moves are initiated on the right, but there may be times when it’s needed. For example, in a Spin Out combo that moves from right to left.

Open Position

In Half Open the partners are connected with hands on the opposite shoulder. (still looking for a photo of this one)

Open Facing is like Open Position, but partners are facing one another. In the image below, Adam and Jana will not be facing one another for long because they are in the middle of a combo.

Open Facing

Open Facing Right-to-Right (“Handshake” for short) is like Open Facing, but with a right-to-right hand grip. It doesn’t have to be palm-to-palm, you could cup your fingers like Kennedy and Christine do in the photo below, to prepare for quick turns.

Open Facing Right-to-Right

Cross-Handed Open Position is very useful and there is a whole article about it to help you get into it. In the picture below, Adam uses an upside-down handshake grip (palm-to-palm) to prepare for the next move.

Cross-Handed Open Position with Upside-Down Handshake Grip

In Butterfly both hands are connected, and the partners are facing one another. This is the most common one. This article will teach you how to do an Open Break to Butterfly Open Position.


Description: Open Break to Butterfly

Steps are given for leads except where indicated.

From Closed Position, this is called an Open Break and will get you into the Butterfly position:

  1. Slide your right hand to your follow’s side, and with the heel of the hand push them back. Walk backwards in small steps L R L, on counts 1 & 2. (For follows it’s R L R)
  2. At the same time, trace the back of your follow’s arm to their hand with your hand as you do this, so you maintain connection. End with your palms facing up.

When building a combo, at the end of a move, such as an Outside Turn or Inside Turn, do a Butterfly Catch (or Snag):

  • Lead, reach out your hand, palm up, fingers curled slightly to catch the follow’s hand. If possible, trace from their elbow down to their hand since this will make connecting with that hand easier.
  • This happens over a single count of music, and if during a turn, it is usually happens with the end of that turn. Say you do an Outside Turn, the turn itself is 1 & 2 &, and the hand catch to Butterfly occurs on beat 2.


  • This common one is called Butterfly Position because in ballroom dancing you would be set up to do the move called the Butterfly.
  • Leads, if you lose connection as you are tracing their arm, launch into a Belt Loop right away to recover by turning yourself in the direction of the connected hand. More information on the Belt Loop page.
  • Open Positions are used within combos to string moves together. Again, this only happens for one beat, so you’ll start counting again at 1 from the next move after the position.
  • In the tutorials for other moves, I will explain which type of open position is needed.

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