For those new to folk dancing, or any type of dancing, learning basic vocabulary can be an exhausting task. This goes beyond learning the steps, but being able to apply the words you hear or maybe even use. For those who are older and have been dancing for some years, your memory might be at the place that it needs a boost every once in a while. On this page we have identified a few common terms, styles, and movements you may come across in your experience. If you have a term, phrase, position or dance step you would like to contribute to this list, or if there is a word which you have heard but feel embarrassed to ask, please let us know. We promise not to put your name on-line and will try to make sense of something you may have heard!


Allemande Left
Join left hands with your corner or partner and turn once CCW in 8 steps, ending in starting position. Allemande Right is done with opposite hands and direction. DUH?

Sometimes if you are uncertain of the exact Middle Eastern country an individual is from, you might say he or she is "arabesque." This would be politically incorrect. Arabesque is a position in which the dancer stands on one leg, straight or bent (not the dancer, the leg), with the other extended to the back at 90 degrees.

Back Skaters Position
Partners stand side-by-side, left hands joined in front of man's body (man's palm up), with man's right arm around partner's waist, and holding lady's right hand at her right hip.

1) Two dancers face and dance two step-swings, starting to the right first, either with or without right hands joined. 2) One two-step, two walking steps, or a step and touch moving forward or back, and then repeat the same steps in the opposite direction. 3) A two-step or Pas de Basque to the left and then to the right or to the right and then to the left. 

Rocky's surname. It is also a form of Swing dance that started as early as 1915 and gained in popularity in the 1930s and 1940s. It is danced primarily in close embrace, and is led with a full body connection. The art of Balboa is the subtle communication between the lead and follow, like weight shifts, that most viewers cannot see. As a result, Balboa is considered more of a "dancer's dance" than a "spectator's dance."

Ballroom (Closed) Position
Two dancers face. The man's left hand is held out to his left, approximately shoulder high, and his right arm is around his partner's waist with the right hand supporting her back. The elbow of the man's right arm must be kept at least as high as the right hand in order to lead properly. The lady's right hand is placed on the man's left hand, and her left hand is placed on the man's right shoulder or upper arm. The lady's left arm should be in contact with the man's right arm, though she should carry the weight and not drag down on her partner, even if he is a muscular sort of person!

Basket Hold
The last thing "Little Red Riding Hood" saw before being consumed by the bad wolf. With regards to dancing...Front Basket Hold (more common) is a row or circle of dancers, side-by-side, with arms extended sideways in front of the adjacent dancers to take hands with the second dancer to each side. Unless indicated otherwise, the left arm is over the right arm of your neighbour to your left. Back Basket Hold: is a row or circle of dancers, side-by-side, with arms extended sideways behind the adjacent dancers to take hands with the second dancer to each side.

Otherwise known as the buttocks, rear, bum, rump, khyber pass, backside, bottom, derrière or a few other choice words not printable on this site, to which you sit on if you don't know the dance or need a rest from dancing! It can also refer to the free foot, which is supposed to go in back of the opposite foot. The former definitions, however, are much more exciting!

Belt Hold
This first presumes that people are wearing belts. Otherwise, care must be given when reaching towards, and pulling on another dancer's clothes. It involves a row of dancers, side by side, each dancer holding the belt of the adjacent dancer. If the row moves to the right in the dance then the right arm is crossed under the left arm and vice-versa. The end dancers in the line hold their belts with their free hands. If there is an absence of belts, you must pretend!

Black Bottom
African-American couple dance originating from New Orleans in 1919. It came from an earlier dance called “Jacksonville Rounders’ Dance” printed in 1907 and the rhythm was based solidly on the Charleston and took over in popularity. Some suggest this Jazz Age dance took its name from the muddy bottom of the Mississippi River.

Box Step
A pattern consisting of six steps, which when taken in its entirety, form the shape of a box…duh!

Nothing to do with the hair-do! This step involves a brushing of the toe(s) on the floor at the lowest part of a swing or in conjunction with another step.

Bunny Hop
This dance resembles the Conga line, but has three jumps at the end of the phrase instead of a kick. It comes instinctively to young rabbits.

Butterfly Position
When referred to in dancing, two dancers face and join hands out to the sides, palm to palm, elbows slightly bent. When referred to in Kama Sutra it is something totally different and cannot be published on this website.

A type of haircut experienced by many military personnel, skin-heads, or persons infested with lice. It is also the euphoria experienced by smoking marijuana!
In dance terms, this step is used when the body is moving sidewards to the left, but with the right foot leading. It is sometimes referred to as a pivot. Crossing the right foot over in front of the left, step to the left on it, and close the left foot to the right. This buzz step can also be used to move in the other direction by reversing the footwork. This step can be used when swinging in the shoulder-waist or waist-swing position. Simply put, it is a turn in one spot.

Camel Walk
A skill practiced by Bedouins and Nomads for the purpose of exercising their dromedaries. If your dromedary is physically fit or you do not presently own one, it can be a two-beat maneuver in which a step forward is made on the first beat. On the second beat, the forward foot does a knee pop while the trailing foot slides up to and under the upraised heel of the forward foot.

A stutterer who is able to do anything she or he desires. It is also regarded today primarily as a physically demanding music hall dance, performed by a chorus line of female dancers who wear costumes with long skirts, petticoats, and black stockings, harking back to the fashions of the 1890s. The main features of the dance are the lifting up and manipulation of the skirts, with high kicking and suggestive, provocative body movements. Some middle-aged and out-of-shape ladies really shouldn't-shouldn't. 

A necessary accessory for those who enjoy the charming sport of S&M. In dancing, however, partners face each other in a circle with the men facing anti/counter-clockwise (LOD) and the ladies facing clockwise (RLOD). Give right hand to partner and pass by right shoulders. Give left hand to the next dancer and pass by left shoulder. Continue giving alternately right hand and then left hand to the oncoming dancers. Also known as a "grand chain".

The capital of South Carolina from 1670-1789, after which the capital was moved to Columbia, South Carolina. The dance originated in the early 20's in illegal drinking places during the time of prohibition. The combination of a particular type of jazz music and the highly polished, slippery floors of the Speakeasies gave rise to an in-and-out flicking of the feet which essentially characterized the dance. It was embellished with typical vaudeville moves in a Ziegfield Follies production in 1921.

A sliding step in which one foot "chases" and displaces the other. The direction may be sideways, diagonal, or even curving.

Something dancers do to water when thirsty, after a long dance. It is also a sharp movement (usually backward) of the supporting foot/feet where the foot/feet do not leave the floor. First shift the weight in the direction of the chug then sharply move the foot/feet to the new center of weight.

A freestyle dance style originating in the Blue Ridge Mountains characterized by double time stomping and tap steps resembling a tap dance with the upper body held straight and upright. The constant shuffling of the "floor" foot is one of the major characteristics that distinguishes clogging from tap dancing.

An African-Cuban dance characterized by the extreme violence of accents on the strong beats in 2/4 time. The Conga was very popular in the late thirties. It was performed in a formation known as the Conga chain or Conga line. The steps are simple, one, two, three, kick at which time the partners move away from each other.

Contra or Longways Formation
Couples stand in two lines, men in one line facing the right wall and their partners who are standing in another line and facing the left wall. Starting with the couple at the head of the set, couples are numbered consecutively, to the foot, with rarely more than six couples to a set.

Where Little Jack Horner sat. It can also be the person standing by a dancer other than his/her partner when dancing as couples.

Cotton-Eyed Joe
A Country & Western dance enjoyed throughout the United States and elsewhere for its enthusiastic music and energetic movements. Characteristic movements include kicks, stomps, shuffles, and turns in place or traveling around the room. The man and the lady generally begin in shadow position with the left foot and they use the same foot on the same beat of music throughout their patterns.

Courtesy Turn
Starting formation - couple, facing dancers. The man (left hand dancer) takes the lady's (right hand dancer) left hand (palm down) in his left (palm up) and places his right hand in the small of the lady's back. Moving as a unit, the couple turns around (180°) with the left hand dancer backing up and right hand dancer walking forward. Unless otherwise specified, the couple faces the center of the set or the center of the formation.

It is a Hungarian dance with a slow introduction and a fast, wild finish. It is of Gypsy origin and means "innkeeper."

In Balkan dancing, it is a soft rise and fall of the heel, like a bounce. In baby talk, it is the first word (repeated twice) followed by the word "coo". Many babies consider such talk condescending or odd at the very least, especially when a pinch of the cheek or tickling under the chin coincides with such gibberish.

The lady faces her partner with feet together, she touches her left foot behind her right and bends the knees slightly, lowering the body, then returns to normal position. Body remains upright. There is a push for a revival of such practices amongst some men.

What happens when you are careless with scissors. A quick displacement of one foot by the other. To cut the left foot you would stand with weight on the left foot and swing the right foot sidewards towards the left foot. Take weight on the right foot and swing the left foot away from the right foot as a continuation of the right foot’s swing. To "cut right", do the opposite.

The placement of a small amount of chewing tobacco under the lip, normally thought to be a very disgusting habit. It can also mean a step back on the right foot, with the left foot taking full weight and bending the knee. The other leg remains extended and straight with the toe in contact with the floor.

Dirty Dancin'
A general style of very intimate closed position partner dancing popularized in the late 80's by actor/dancer Patrick Swayze in the movie "Dirty Dancin'." Danced to popular fast or slow music and characterized by sensuous and seductive movements by both the man and woman. To increase the intensity of Dirty Dancin' it is recommended that it be done in the mud after a heavy rain.

Two dancers face, move forward passing right shoulders (unless directed otherwise), move to the right passing back-to-back, and fall back to places, all in 8 steps. The direction of facing remains the same. There should be no spins. The same figure may be danced passing left shoulders first and moving to the left.

Double Circle
Usually consists of couples who are facing CCW around the circle. Variations: partners face; all dancers face center; all dancers face toward the wall with backs to center; men are in the outside circle with women in the inside circle; every other couple faces CW while alternate couples face CCW, leaving a couple facing a couple.

A man with a slight 5 o'clock shadow wearing a woman's dress and wig. A drag can also happen when a couples dance is announced and you are suddenly the odd person out without a partner, or when nobody ever asks to be your partner. This can also be a drag. It can also suggest that you bring your free foot slowly together to the supporting foot and is usually much more exciting than a man in a wig.

Something which must be learned after the realization that all of your people look like stick-figures. It can also be something similar to the side-step, except the trailing foot is closed to the supporting foot, with the heel leading and the toe pointed to the side. Weight depends on the next movement or step. Some people should NOT draw and stick with math or science.

Escort Hold
You can use your own imagination on this one, but can anyone say "Hugh Grant?" When referring to a Line Dance you would place the left hand at waist level close to center front of body. (Men may place left thumb in their belt.) Rest the right hand lightly on the adjacent dancer’s left forearm through the space formed by the bent elbow.
As a Couple Dance, a couple stands side-by-side, facing the same direction. The man bends his right arm and holds it at his waist. The lady slips her left hand through the gap at his elbow to rest it on the man’s right forearm. The man’s left arm and the lady's right arm are held at their sides.

Not to be confused with a "flamingo," it is a Sevillian gypsy dance, possibly originating in India, also with Moorish and Arabian influences, originally accompanied by songs and clapping and later by the guitar, and characterized by its heelwork (taconeo). A flamingo is a bright pink bird who mysteriously appears on some lawns in America, normally in lower-class neighbourhoods.

Flea Hop
A skip or scoot sideways in the direction of the non-support leg. The hip moves upward, as if you have just been bitten by a flea in your under-garments.

Folk Dancing
A type of dancing that has developed through the traditions of a culture, and has been passed down from generation to generation. It is danced to traditional ethnic music and their instruments.

The dance originated in 1913 when a vaudeville performer by the name of Harry Fox performed a little "trot" which appealed to the social dance teachers in New York and thus the Foxtrot was born. Little did Harry Fox realize that his trotting on a New York stage in 1913 would become an overnight success. The Foxtrot is the foundation for many of the social dances that followed. It is enjoyed by all age groups for its ease of movement and smooth style. Foxtrot music is played by most social dance orchestras and is one of the easiest dances to learn in the American Style.

Ad lib dance movements with no fixed structure. This is a very convenient dance term for new-comers. If asked by the more experienced dancers, "What in the world was that step?" The proper reply is, "Free-style, what else?"

The Frug was born from a dance called the Chicken which had a lateral body movement and was used as a change of pace during the Twist. So as the kids grew lazier they decided to do less work, and started moving only their hips while standing still. As the hips swing from side to side they started making up arm movements for the dance. From this came the Swim, the Monkey, the Dog, the Watusi, the Waddle or Wabble and the Jerk. Some of these dances are named with localities. What we call the Frug is often called the Surf, Big Bea and Thunderbird, with the Swim being born out of it. What we call the Watusi is also known as Wabble and Waddle. The Monkey, Dog, Bump and Jerk fall roughly into the same category.

Think of a horse and then remember that it is similar to the "slipping-step", but executed forward. It is a step on one foot, followed by a rapid closing of the trailing foot. It is danced in uneven rhythm, which comes natural to many caucasian people. The same foot leads on each gallop step. Donkeys seldom gallop, as they are known to have a stubborn streak and move quite slowly.

This is a sideward movement in which the trailing foot may cross behind or in front of the leading foot, or may alternate crossing in front and then behind or behind and then in front. The step may be started with a sideward step, moving the body in the direction of the originating foot, or it may be started by crossing one foot over the other, in which case the body moves in the direction of the crossing foot. If all else fails, step out of the line and/or follow the person beside you with a brave smile! Oh…it is also something which grows grapes.

It has nothing to do with tramps or thieves as Cher would have us believe. It is when two dancers move around each other in a circular path facing outward or towards the center as directed. More often, the pair looks each other in the eyes and walks around each other in the designated direction, without touching each other. The amount of eye contact depends on various factors including individual comfort, how good looking he or she is, the smell of their breath and local tradition.

Gumboot Dance
The slave laborers in the gold mines of South Africa developed their own language by slapping their gumboots and rattling their ankle chains. In time it has developed into a truly unique dance form. It has absolutely nothing to do with gum on one's boots or the dance which often follows, in the attempt to remove it. For this situation, an ice pack is said to be more effective to removing the gum than dancing.

A very popular Turkish square dance. Participants join hands, making a circle. The music and the dance start slowly but gets faster and faster. It is danced with the accompaniment of a drum and shrill pipe. The halay is danced especially on holidays and wedding days. It starts with a folk song, sang by the drummer in general. The origin of the halay is in the west and south of Turkey.

A traditional Swedish couple dance, originating in the late 1800s and early 1900s. It is danced in ¾ time, to music played with a strong accent on the first beat and a tempo that varies from moderate to fast. When danced to a quicker tune, it involves a lot of spinning around and should never be danced immediately after eating a large meal.

A man's idea of beauty and a woman's idea of pain. In dancing terms, however, it means to touch the floor with the heel of your foot, toe raised, without taking weight and usually executed either forward or diagonally forward and to the side.

Heel Clicks
An action where the weight is on the balls of both feet and the heels lift from the floor and hit each other. It can also occur in older persons whenver they walk across the floor. It is usually not painful, but an irritating noise to many.

Hip Bumps
A dance move, generally referred to in its shortened version, "The Bump", that was believed to have went out of fashion in the 1970s. It still reappears occasionally amongst geriatrics. More commonly however, it now refers to a movement in which the hip moves out and back in a quick fashion without coming into contact with the neighbour or dancer beside you (which seems rather pointless).

Hokey Cokey
The correct spellings for what Americans refer to as the "Hokey Pokey." (NOTE: Webmaster is British)

Facing opposite dancer, lady curtsies and the man bows. It is also something that has been removed from many wedding vows.

Not to be confused with a jump (see jump). A hop is a spring from the ground on ONE foot, returning to the ground with weight on the same foot.

A lively British dance typically performed by one person, and is often danced wearing a hard shoe. The form dates back to the mid-18th century or earlier, but became much more popular in the early 19th century. Perhaps the best known example is the Sailor's Hornpipe, which imitates the life of a sailor and their duties aboard ship. Due to the small space the dance required, and no need for a partner, the dance was popular on-board ship.

Originally a sacred dance of Hawaii supposedly created by the younger volcano Kala to please his sister Pele. In due time its varied interpretation also served to please the visiting sailors which did not please the missionaries who promptly banned it. Despite this blight, it has been revived and is now more popular than ever. It is in 4/4 meter, interprets stories by the use of arms, hands and facial expression. The basic step is a chasse' during which the hips undulate.

A number of similar style disco dances which had its beginning in the mid-70's and enjoys some continuing popularity as a swing style today. The record "Do The Hustle" was followed by the movie "Saturday Night Fever." The movie portrayal of partner dancing by John Travolta to the popular beat of top selling music from the Bee Gees and the introduction to America of the discotheque setting, popular for some years in Europe, took America by storm. Flashing lights, mirrors everywhere, loud throbbing beat, and high fashion were in. Large numbers of popular discos sprang up in every city and everyone was waiting in line to dance.

A longways set is "improper" if any of the men are on the ladies’ side or any of the ladies are on the men’s side of the set, unless you are in San Francisco where it doesn't matter.

Irish Hey
A greeting by a gay person from Belfast, who has visited the southern USA (It must be pronounced with a long "A" sound and is often followed by the word "girlfriend"). It could also be an Irish dance, a round or figure dance. (see Straight Hey)

The Jarabes are typical Mexican Folk dances. Usually done by a couple, it depicts a flirtation and conquest. It is well known in America by its other name, "The Mexican Hat Dance." The Mexican Jarabe is a descendant of the Spanish Zapateado, and its rhythm resembles that of a Mazurka. It is in 3/4 time.

Not to be confused with a hop (see hop or flea hop). A jump is a spring from the ground on one or both feet, landing with the weight on both feet temporarily, and with the ankle and knee bend absorbing the shock (of doing it correctly)!

Sometimes spelled "Caca," it is the foul smelling substance found in babies nappies (diapers) at the most inconvenient of times. Synonyms: poo-poo, doo-doo, poopy, number 2. Antonyms: wee-wee, pee-pee, tinkle, number one. It is also a picturesque Togolese dance of the coastal areas, carried out with pieces of bamboo. (Note: If travelling to Togo, do not tell your host you need to do "kaka." The musicians will start playing and you will be expected to produce "kaka.")

A Slavic dance performed in a circle with origins to the late 18th century. It is Serbo-Croat, literally meaning "wheel."

A samba-derived dance from the northeast coast of Brazil. The exciting look of this dance on European television took the continent by storm in the late 1980s.

Similar to a "hop", inasmuch as it is a spring from the ground on one foot. However, you return to the ground with the weight on the opposite foot, landing on the ball of the foot and absorbing the shock through the ankle and bent knee. Seeing that it is a "leap", it happens correctly usually once every four years.

Lindy Hop
Named by Ray Bolger, after Colonel Lindbergh's flight across the Atlantic. This Swing had as much "getting into the air" as possible. However, the violently acrobatic style used for exhibitions is not the same as the quietly rhythmic Lindy enjoyed by good dancers on the ballroom floor. The rhythmic patterns takes place over two measures of music. The more acrobatic versions were limited to ballrooms of which the most famous was the New York's Savoy Harlem. At one time the Jitterbug included the Charleston, Black Bottom, Shag and Lindy Hop. It has now been consolidated into Lindy Hop in eastern U.S. and on the west coast the West Coast Swing.


Refers to the "Line of Dance" or "Line of Direction", typically meaning to face and moving CCW (anti/counter-clockwise) around the room and sometimes referred to as "Forward".

Longways Set
A line of men facing their partners in a parallel line of ladies. The left most man in his line is at the top of the set which should be the end nearest to the music.

A Polish dance consisting of two steps with the free foot displacing the supporting foot on the second step, followed by a hop on the new supporting foot. Left, cut (R), hop (R), or right, cut (L), hop (L). It is danced in even time, but with 3 steps to the measure. On the hop, the heel of the free foot is crossed over in front of the supporting leg. If confused, skip it.

Anything blended with tequila, rum, whiskey, gin or other hard beverages. After which (when drank in large quantities) it is a dance or dance pattern where partners are switched (for the sole purpose of dancing with somebody else) and has nothing to do with "swinging."

Morris Dance
An English folk dance that appeared in the fifteenth century, in which dancers wore bells on their legs and characters included a fool, a boy on a hobby horse, and a man in blackface.

The nearest person of opposite gender other than partner, usually immediately to your side. It can also be that irritating person who has a barking dog and ignores it, or the creepy person who peers through the fence hole when you are trying to sunbathe. The latter two are known as 'bad' neighbours.

Open Position
A swingers favourite position. With regards to dance though…partners stand side-by-side and join inside hands, generally facing LOD (Line of Dance).

Open Promenade
Right- The couple are in Open Dance Position. The lady is to the right of the man. The lady's left hand is held in the man's right. They are facing the same direction, both traveling down the line of dance (LOD).
Left- The couple are in Open Dance Position. The lady is to the left of the man. The lady's right hand is held in the man's left. They are facing the same direction, both traveling down the line of dance (LOD).

Pas de Basque
This is a fancy French name for a two-step moving sideways. The timing is exactly the same. To Pas de Basque left, leap onto the left foot, cross the right foot over in front of the left foot and momentarily, while in mid-air and breathing comfortably, take the weight on it, then quickly step on the left foot in place. To Pas de Basque right, reverse the above.

A turn on the ball of the weighted foot up to a maximum of 1/2 turn or 180°.

A movement in which the knees are bent while the back is held straight.

Pointing is rude. Don't do it. However, if you insist, you may touch the floor with the pointed toes without taking weight. The toe may touch backward, sideward, forward or across in the front of the supporting foot. Pointing and giggling is even more rude.

This is a springy two-step, preceded by a hop on the supporting foot on the up-beat.

From Closed dance position, the man and the lady step forward in a "V" position down the line of dance. See Open Promenade

Four couples standing on the sides of a square and facing the center of the set, ladies on the right of their partners. The couples are usually numbered in the order in which they take the lead in the dance. The top couple is couple 1, the bottom couple is couple 2, the couple to the right of the top couple is couple 3 and the remaining couple is couple 4. Sometimes other couple numbering is used for a particular dance.

Quick, Quick
A majority of men's approach to foreplay and sexual intimacy (image not available on this website). On the dance floor, however, it is represented by a "Double Rhythm Unit" which is 2 steps to 2 beats of music. In 4/4 time a "Quick Quick" would be 2 steps to 2 beats of music (stepping on each beat) and a Slow would be 1 step to two beats of music (stepping on the first beat).

Raks Sharki
Belly dance or Oriental dance. It’s one of the world’s oldest dance forms. Common throughout the Middle East and North Africa and recently gained in popularity throughout the west.

Refers to the "Reverse Line of Dance" or "Reverse Line of Direction", typically meaning to face and moving CW (clockwise) around the room and sometimes referred to as "Back" or "Backward."

Rolling Turn
A 3/4 to full turn, while progressing in any given direction usually requiring 3 to 4 steps. It can also happen when you are not paying attention on the dance floor, and can be rather embarrassing.

This Brazilian dance was first introduced in 1917 but was finally adopted by Brazilian society in 1930 as a ballroom dance. It is sometimes referred to as a Samba, Carioca, a Baion or a Batucado. The difference is mostly in the tempo played since the steps in all three dance are very similar. The style is to bounce steadily and smoothly in 2/4 meter. The Samba was introduced in the United States in 1939 by the late Carmen Miranda.

Sounds like someone who has had too many mixers and is referring to a native from Scotland. It involves three steps followed by a hop on the supporting foot. On the hop, the free foot may execute a swing. It is danced in even rhythm, and may be executed forward, backward, sideward or turning. On the second step, the free foot may be closed to the supporting foot, or may move past the supporting foot before taking the weight.

Spring to the right foot as the left foot kicks forward then spring to the left foot as the right foot kicks forward. The body weight usually rests on the back foot but can rest on the front or both feet. You spring on the spot and the legs alternately kick forward and may touch the ground with the toe, heel or whole foot. The scissors appear in many rhythms.

Semi-closed Position
From a closed position, both dancers turn to face forward around the room, maintaining the same arm and hand positions.

Shadow Position
Both partners face the same general direction, one of them squarely behind or slightly shifted sideways ("in the shadow"). Sometimes referred to as "skaters position."

A word that was made popular again by the Austin Power's films. The meaning is not able to be published on this website. Neither should it be confused with the Carolina Shag, which is a slow laid back type of Swing that became popular in the late 30's along with the Jitterbug and Lindy Hop. The dance was done to up-tempo Swing or Foxtrot music and was instantly recognizable by the flicking of the feet backwards with a pronounced hopping action.

Started as an African-American dance of the late 1880's. It is a shaking of the shoulders and a whole body. First recreated by Gilda Gray.

Shoulder Hold
A row of dancers (usually men because they don't like holding hands) side by side, with arms straight and hands on the shoulders of neighbours.

Two dancers face, and dance forward and back, passing left shoulders as they dance forward (turn to left on 3rd step to continue facing partner), and right shoulders as they return (turn to right on third step).

Single Circle
All dancers stand in a circle, either with or without hands joined, and regardless of sex or sexual orientation. Variations: circles consists of couples, with lady on the man's right; dancers face center; dancers face clockwise; dancers face anti/counter-clockwise; dancers face out (backs to center)... You get the idea!

Slipping or Sliding
Something very easy to do when dancing on a newly finished floor! This is a step to the right or left, with the leading foot followed by the other foot closing to it and taking weight. The tempo is quick and uneven, with the leading foot moving quickly to the side after the trailing foot has closed. The feet remain near the floor and the legs are only slightly separated. The leading foot lands on the accented beat and the trailing foot takes the weight only long enough to move the free foot out to the side again.

Square Dance
An American folk dance with an even number of couples forming a square, two lines, or a circle. The dance is comprised of figures announced by a caller.

Straight Hey
No such thing. (See Irish Hey)

A slow Scottish dance coming from the name of the valley of the Spey River in Scotland, danced in four-four time. It is similar to the British hornpipe, but slower and more stately.

Supporting Leg
A term used by dancers and teachers for the leg which supports the body so that the working leg is free to execute a given movement; a little like a supporting actor.

A tilt of the chest to the side, without lowering the torso or stretching from the side upwards.

Sword Dance
One of the three chief English dances of Medieval times. It was a ritualistic and ceremonial drama danced by men with swords and elaborate costumes while parading through the streets. It depicted the death of the old year, of Winter, and of scarcity. It heralded in the New Year, with hope of Spring and plenty. To symbolize the death of Winter, someone must always "die" and be brought to life again as a portrayal of death and resurrection.

A rapid Italian whirling dance originating in southern Italy in the 19th century from the seaport "Taranto." It was so named because it was thought to be a cure for tarantism. See "tarantism."

A psychological illness characterized by an extreme impulse to dance, prevalent in Southern Italy from the 15th to the 17th century, and widely believed at the time to have been caused by the bite of a tarantula.

Step right foot forward, step left foot in place, step right foot backward, step left foot in place.
Half Tcherkessia:
Step right foot forward, step left foot in place.
Double Tcherkessia:
Step right foot across in front of left foot, step left foot in place, close right foot to left foot. Step left foot across in front of right foot, step right foot in place, close left foot to right foot.

Texas Two-Step
A fast traveling dance with many turns and normally danced to country music with a tempo range of 170-200 beats per minute. The basic step is like walking, except the timing is quick, quick, slow, slow.

Turkey Trot
What turkeys do as Thanksgiving arrives to escape a most certain death. The Turkey Trot was also a dance done to fast ragtime music popular in the decade from 1900 to 1910 such as Scott Joplin's Maple Leaf Rag, etc. The basic step consisted of four hopping steps sideways first on one leg, then the other. It achieved popularity chiefly as a result of its being denounced by the Vatican. The dance was embellished with scissor-like flicks of the feet and fast trotting actions with abrupt stops.

This dance was written by an African American musician in Georgia in 1958. He and his band members made up some twisting movements for the musicians to do while playing the music. Then in 1960, Chubby Checker made his first twist record, and made the Twist famous in Philadelphia. Twist came to New York via Philadelphia and New Jersey and then spread throughout most countries.

A step with one foot, followed by a closing of the other foot, and again a step with the originating foot. (Left, right, left or Right, left, right). To confuse matters, it may be danced forward, backward, sidewards, or while turning. The rhythm is quick-quick slow, quick-quick slow.

A row or circle of dancers, side by side, with arms sloping down and hands joined with neighbours. There is a slight gap between dancers so that arms look like the letter "V", otherwise it would be called a "W" hold!

Couples stand side-by-side, left hands joined in front of man's body (man's palm up), with man's right arm behind partner's shoulders and holding partner's right hand above her right shoulder. Lady's right hand faces forward with the back of the hand resting against man's palm.

Village Variations

When you screw-up royally and you don't want anyone to know, you claim that in your "village" the dance is done like you just did it. A form of relieving embarrassment.

A row or circle of dancers, side by side, with elbows bent and hands joined with neighbours at shoulder height. Hands are slightly forward, creating a formation that looks like the letter "W", otherwise, it would be called a "V" hold!

Three steps in which the free foot is closed to the supporting foot on the third step. It is danced in even time, but with either three or six steps to the measure. It may be danced forward, backward, sideward, or while turning. Seldom is it done upside down!

You may hear it said either, "No weight", "no body weight", "full weight", etc. Weight refers the position a dancer finds him/her-self at the end of the step. The dancer's center of gravity is directly over the support foot. A simple test for a full weight transfer is that you can freely lift the second foot off the floor. Over-weight is a curse of the American culture. Dead-weight is usually the result of 'over-weight.' Both greatly hinder the dancer for performing well or thoroughly enjoying the dance experience.

Yemenite (right)
A person who comes from the country of Yemen. In dance terms, step to the right with the right foot, bending the knee. Step on the left foot slightly behind the right foot with straight leg and on the ball of the foot. Step with right foot back to starting position. Hold (or close left foot). May be “repeated” with a yemenite left, ie. opposite footwork and opposite sideways directions.