How to Do Jitterbug Dance Steps

Jitterbug Swing

If you are looking for a social dance that's tons of fun and will increase your energy every time you do it, try learning some jitterbug dance steps. Jitterbug is a type of swing dance that became famous during the Big Band era. It has gained popularity again recently. Grab a partner and try this peppy format to see if it jives with you.

The Jitterbug Basic

The jitterbug basic is counted in six counts of music, but there are only four steps.

  1. Begin facing your partner with your hands clasped gently in front of you.
  2. Press into one another's hands to propel your bodies back. The lead should step back with his left foot, while the follower steps back with her right.
  3. Pull one another's hands gently to move closer together, stepping forward with the opposite foot. Together, steps two and three are called the rock step.
  4. The leader steps and leans to the left while the follower steps and leans to the right.
  5. The leader steps and leans to the right while the follower steps and leans to the left.
  6. Repeat steps two through five as many times as desired at a pace of quick, quick, slow, slow.

In any partner work, it's important to maintain a strong connection with your partner by keeping your arms firm. Once you've practiced the basic and feel comfortable with it, try moving in a circle.

Triple Step

Take your tempo up a notch with the triple step. It's the basic with eight steps instead of four, performed at a higher speed.

  • Steps for the follower - rock step, right, left, right, left, right left.
  • Steps for the leader - rock step, left, right, left, right, left, right.

Underarm Turn

Performing underarm turns is a simple way to add a little spice to your jitterbug.

  1. Begin facing your partner, hands in front of you, gently clasped.
  2. Perform a rock step.
  3. The leader should step out to the left and lift his left hand up and to the side, drawing his partner to step out to her right and raise her hand up and to her right.
  4. The leader replaces his weight on his right foot and begins drawing his left hand in a clockwise circle over his partner's head, leading her to step her left foot across her body and make a half turn to the right.
  5. The leader completes the circle, draws his partners hand down as they perform another rock step at an angle from one another.

If you can master the basic step and these turns, you are ready to hit the dance floor!

The Inside Turn

When performing the inside turn, also known as the tuck turn, you and your partner will switch sides.

  1. Begin facing one another.
  2. Perform a rock step.
  3. The leader releases the partner's left hand and draws his partner forward.
  4. You each perform the first half of the triple step as he draws a counter-clockwise circle over her head and moves out of her way, turning her in front of him.
  5. Perform the second half of the triple step, moving in front of each other once more.

Cuddle Step

Get cozy with the cuddle step. It's a natural add-on if you've mastered the inside turn.

  1. Begin facing one another.
  2. Perform a rock step.
  3. The leader releases the partner's left hand and draws his partner forward.
  4. You each perform the first half of the triple step as he draws a counter-clockwise circle over her head, turning her to face away from him. The partner should reach her left hand across her tummy to take the leader's right hand.
  5. Perform the second half of the triple step in the cuddle position.
  6. Rock step.
  7. The leader releases the partner's left hand and spins her back in the direction she came as they both perform the triple step, returning to the starting position.

Get Social with the Jitterbug

Whether you stick with the most basic steps or you become very adept at the fanciest turns, jitterbug dancing is a whole lot of fun to learn, and even more fun to do! If you like the jitterbug, practice the steps here, then check out local ballroom studios or social event listings so you can put your skills to the test. For variety, try other swing dances too.

How to Do Jitterbug Dance Steps