There are many ways to learn this style of dance. The following sequence will teach you fundamental moves that will give you a strong understanding of this dance. Each step is a new move or idea that builds upon the previous ones, so you can start to feel confident on the dance floor in no time.
what you’ll need
- A partner, if one is available. If not, you can still practice on your own. If you are practicing on your own, try to match exactly what you would do with a partner.
- Some clear floor space–it can be carpet, concrete, wood or tile.
- Footwear. I recommend shoes on solid floors and socks on carpeted floor.
- Music, if you’d like.
- Your phone, laptop, tablet, or smart TV to show the videos on this website.
- Some self-love and a sense of humor. It probably won’t look as good as you’d like it to be on the first try, but the more you practice it, the more you will transfer this into your muscle memory. Chances are if you and your partner are smiling, laughing, or having fun that you’re doing it right.
The course includes everything I would cover in a one-hour session in a live dance class. You are welcome to work at your own pace and break this up over the course of several days as needed.
- Decide who is going to lead and who is going to follow. If you and your partner are opposite genders, typically the male leads and the female follows, but you are welcome to break tradition. You’ll be looking for specific information for each person’s part of the dance in the articles below.
- Click each article link below to watch and read about each move. Take a moment to practice it in isolation, then practice it with the moves you learned before it. I have listed some suggestions as you progress, using each thing you know so far. When both partners feel comfortable with the move, go on to the next one.
1: basic steps and turns
- The Basic Rhythm Two Step: Some Country Swing dancers don’t use this step at all, however I like to include the Rhythm Two Step into my dancing for several reasons. Let’s practice them:
- Keep the beat while moving. This will help you and your partner to stay together and agree on the timing of the steps, and it also shows that you understand the relationship of dancing and music. Always dance to the beat of the music.
- Have a conversation with your partner. If you can keep moving while talking and maintain the posture without sagging, it means your muscle memory is taking over. When you get on a real dance floor, you can use this basic step to check in with your partner.
- If you choose to travel around your dance floor, do it in a racetrack pattern (counter-clockwise). This is your default on a moving dance floor and how you will travel to a new place if you need to.
- Outside Turn
- Try the basic step then lead an outside turn and return to the basic step.
- Inside Turn
- Do the basic step and lead into an inside turn, then return to the basic step.
- Do the basic step and lead either an inside turn or an outside turn.
- Lead, take a moment to recognize that the outside turn will happen when you are moving left and the inside turn will happen when you are moving right.
- Follow, try not to anticipate which turn is which, but listen to your partner’s body signals for each one.
- Do the outside turn followed by an inside turn then back to the basic step.
2: turns for the lead
- Do an inside turn followed by an arch. Can you repeat this sequence a few times before returning to the basic step?
- Belt Loop
- Do an inside turn followed by a belt loop. Again, this sequence is repeatable.
- Note that the arch and belt loop are the two options for the lead to turn. Therefore you can now mix them together…
- Try an inside turn, arch, inside turn, then belt loop. You may also swap the arch and belt loop at any time. This is your trusty combo for Country Swing because you can go back to this after just about any move and think of what you want to do next.
- You might be asking yourself “What about the outside turn?” Well, that’s can go before the first inside turn to create space between you and your partner. It’s especially useful for dancing with beginning follows who are afraid to let go or need more guidance.
3: A new way to do the inside turn, and some fancy moves
- Open Position
- Try the basic step and break into open position. This is another great way to create space between you and your partner, and opens up new possibilities for moves.
- Lead, also try capturing the follow’s free hand after an inside turn to get into open position.
- Take a moment to recognize that this is just the inside turn with two hands–one low, one high.
- Do the cuddle, and undo it back to open position.
- The Cuddle Lean
- This is your first option in the cuddle for adding more style and flair. It’s a good way to learn about supported moves and build confidence for riskier moves like dips.
- Cuddle Dip
- This is your second option in the cuddle. It’s a little more risky than the lean, but it has a huge payoff.
You just finished the beginner course, and you are ready to take your moves to a real dance floor. You can keep dancing in your living room, of course, but once you try social dancing it will become your new favorite activity. Don’t worry, you’re not as on-display as you think you are. The dance floor has a lot of activity, and you’ll blend right in. And if you followed the steps I gave you, you have more than enough moves and know-how to look good on the dance floor.
In fact, ask anyone who has been dancing for a while–they would rather dance with anyone who only knows 3 moves really well than someone who knows 100 moves just well enough to get by. The first one is a joy to dance with, while the second one relies on their dance partner to compensate for their lack of practice. It’s okay to take your time. Remember to aim for consistency and safety above all else.
Before going out social dancing, every new dancer should read the articles on asking someone to dance and navigating the dance floor found in the “Dancing Tips” section of the site or by clicking the links.
Ready to learn more?
If you’re ready for more, you can safely jump into the Level 2 Beginner page. Levels 2 and 3 contain some of the moves you just learned, plus a few more that will help you with higher level moves. Although this site is dedicated to showing every move that I find, you don’t have to learn everything at each level to enjoy the resources on this website. Now that you know the basics, you can pick what you want to add on to your dancing.