Outside Turn

Type    Spin
Level     Level 1 Beginner
Other Names   Underarm Turn, Left Turn
Comes From     Basic Step (closed position), Open PositionLasso, Open Facing RR
Leads To    Belt LoopLoopLassoBow and ArrowZig-zag, Open Facing RR


One of the most simple and versatile spins.


  1. Overall footwork for the outside turn is L R L R R L with the counts 1 & 2 & 3 &. 
  2. Begin with the basic step. You can prepare for the single outside turn by bringing your left hand up on the third count. You may also bring it up on the first count of the actual turn.
  3. On the next step (1), guide the follow through with a gentle push from your right hand. Keep your left hand loose. The follow will spin for two counts (1 & 2 &).
  4. While your follow is turning away, bring your hand down to eye-level, outside your frame (for multiple turns, keep it up above the follow’s head until the last turn).
  5. Take a quarter turn to meet your partner in closed position and finish with your back step, AKA right step (Footwork RL, counts 3&).


  1. The follow’s footwork is R L R L L R with the counts 1 & 2 & 3 &. 
  2. When you get that gentle shoulder push from the lead, begin turning to the right with small, tight steps. Steps are RLRL, and counts are 1 & 2 &. Try to stay under the connected hand as long as it is high.
  3. When the lead closes the frame, bring your left arm over top his arm.


  • It’s common to confuse the terms Inside Turn and Outside Turn. The difference is in whether the lead brings his hand outside the frame or inside the frame to do the turn.


  • Keep your hand directly over your follow’s head during the spins. This is her turning axis, like the North Pole. 
  • Do not grip your follow’s hand until and unless you are making an emergency stop. Your follow can spin more freely if you keep your hand open with your palm down, or cupped so her fingers can rotate inside your hand. The best practice is to guide with only your middle and ring fingers.
  • For multiple spins add extra steps in the direction of the spin to go with your follow’s motion.
  • Be careful not to yank your hand away when you want her to stop, but deliberately bring it down as she is completing the spin and she will know to stop.
  • If your follow goes into a second spin there’s no good way to stop it, so just let her complete it and then bring your hand down.
  • If you mess up the footwork and end up far away from your partner, you can launch into an Arch to recover. 


  • Spin on the ball of your foot each time you step, and use your heels, or a back step, as brakes.
  • Think tall to keep your center of gravity over the balls of your feet.
  • You can have your free arm wrapped around yourself, down, or out in a gentle, lifted position, kind of like Barbie’s arms.


Don’t limit yourself to one move at a time! Try for a combo. The Outside Turn leads to many things, but some combinations may require one of the variations below.

  • From Open Position (Butterfly) and Open Facing Right-to-Right you can do an Outside Turn to the other side, with the opposite hand.
  • You can spin the follow multiple times. Be sure you have clearance on the dance floor for multiple spins. The leads will add steps to the basic count for two or more spins, just keep thinking “L R L R L R…” or “1 & 2 & 3 &…” as you continue moving in the direction of the spin. When you stop, do a right step to find the basic pattern again.
  • Use a hand substitution in the middle of the spin to get in or out of Open Facing RR.

Combo Ideas

Instead of going to closed position again, use the Outside Turn in combination. Here are some easy combos to get you started.

  • Outside Turn, Inside Turn: Do an outside turn, then take a tiny pause and reverse the turn back to closed position. The footwork will go to the right on the second turn since this is an Inside Turn.
  • Outside Turn, then Belt Loop is a common way to start a combo.
  • When you begin in Open Position and do an Outside Turn it takes you to Hammerlock Position.

18 thoughts on “Outside Turn

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