Slow Dance Steps

Tamara Warta
couple slow dancing at night

Slow dance steps are simple to learn and fun to use at weddings and other formal occasions. While slow dancing in its traditional form is not nearly as popular as in decades past, it is still popular for certain types of social occasions. In addition, ballroom dancing can add a touch of class and elegance to any fancy event.

Start Learning Slow Dance Steps

For younger generations, slow dancing often consists of holding each other close and simply swaying along to the music. While this is acceptable in most social circles, it is also fun to learn some basic steps to more traditional slow dancing. The former is known as the "hug and sway", while the latter consists of more organized steps.

Find a Partner

To learn slow dance steps, you first will need to find a partner. This can be anyone from a friend to significant other, or even a family member. Some dance studios allow you to attend solo, and then pair you with a partner when you arrive. Check with your instructor ahead of time to find out what is required if you do not already have a partner in mind.

Invest in Good Shoes

You will also want to invest in a pair of ballroom dance shoes. This will keep you from slipping on the dance floor, and also help with your balance and technique.

Basic Steps

All slow dance moves begin with the man placing his right hand on the woman's hip, with her right hand holding his left. The woman then places her left hand on her partner's shoulder. If two females are dancing together for learning purposes, determine who will lead. The man/lead always takes the first step forward, while the woman/follower always starts by stepping backwards.

Box Step

The box step is an introductory slow dance step that is used in many styles of ballroom dancing including the rumba and the classic waltz. It is also appropriate in casual slow dancing that is free from any official style.

First, the man steps forward on his left foot while the woman steps backward, mirroring him. The box step is then executed as follows:

  • The man brings his right foot in beside his left, while the woman steps back with her right foot.
  • The man then steps to the right and the woman follows his lead.
  • The man's left foot is brought in next to the right, again with the woman following.
  • The man then steps back with his right foot, with the woman stepping forward, mirroring him.
  • The man brings his left foot back besides his right, and the woman steps forward on the left.
  • The man steps out to the left, with the woman following him.
  • The box step is concluded with the man bringing his right foot back in beside the left, returning to the original position, as the woman follows.

For more advanced dancers, a slow dancing box step can include a half turn every four counts, as well as reversing the steps halfway through the music so the woman takes the lead.

Stationary Slow Dancing

If the box step is too complicated, or reminds you too much of middle school formal dances, you can learn to stationary dance instead. It involves fewer steps, making it easier to learn, and also providing for less movement across the dance floor.

  • The man leads by stepping forward on his left foot while rocking on his right. The woman follows.
  • The man then steps backward with his left foot and rocks on the right, with the woman again following.

Add turns to break up the repetition of this basic step, using a quarter turn instead of a half turn to keep the movement manageable.

Tips for Learning

Learning how to slow dance can take some time, especially if you're partnered with someone unfamiliar. Give yourself time and patience to learn properly, and make sure that you practice the steps often between classes. Slow dancing is a great skill to have, and will provide you with everything from basic exercise to stand out moves at your next elegant get-together.

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Slow Dance Steps