Sonny Watson's Streetswing.com Homepage
Ballrooms | Blog| Burlesque | Contests | Dances | Dancers | Dance History | Marathons | Movies | Music | Posters Store | Sheet Music | Troupes || Refresh Page
History Index HomePage
Music Lists: Contemporary WCS| Trad'l WCS| C/W Swing| Big Band| Disco| Gospel| Holiday| Hustle| Late Night| Latin| Latin WCS| Mash-Ups| NC2S| Techno
You Are here: Search Streetswing Site Site Search --->

Streetswings Dance History Archives: Foxtrot
Vintage Ballroom Foxtrot dancers
The FoxTrot Title

            The Fox-trot is basically from the Two-step, however it is done with a broken instead of an even beat (Basically Slow-Slow-Quick-Quick.) The Fox-trot was 'supposedly invented' by Harry Fox, (most logical story) who was a vaudeville performer in (June) of 1914. Mr. Fox did a fast but simple trotting step to ragtime music in a hit musical show of that year at the New York Theatre (aka: Jardin de Danse) for Ziegfeld's (1869-1932) - "Danse De Follies Cabaret." A critic reported that "Mr. Fox, very rollickingly dances with a tendency to put everyone in good humor." Harry Fox married Yansci Dolly of the Dolly Sisters.

      On September 3rd, 1914, the "American Society of Professors of Dancing" had already set in motion, standardizing the steps of the Fox-

trot. Oscar Duryea (an established Dancer/teacher) was hired to introduce the dance to the public. Duryea modified Fox's dance, as the trotting could not be kept up for long periods without tiring out the dancers, so the trot was replaced by a glide or "Saunter." This "new Foxtrot" was an instant hit and has remained a stable part in anyone's dancing syllabus ever since.

      Supposedly, the first written mention of the Fox Trot was in the New York Times newspaper advertisement from M.B. Wilson Studios advertising lessons on dance including the Fox-trot (Arthur Murray worked here during that time as a teacher). In 1914, a piece of sheet music was created with the title "Original Foxtrot" by Jack Mcenness and Dorothy Hunter. The Reuben Fox-trot was introduced by Miss Sonia Baraban and Charles C. Grohs, another was the Kangaroo Hop which was listed as a Fox Trot and Uriel Davy's created the Davy's Foxtrot as well, all these in 1914. However, there is sheet music dating before these times stating the words "Fox-Trot" such as "The Oriental Foxtrot" (1905) and the "The Get Together" (1908). However, they are probably re-prints as the most commonly believed date is 1914 and Fox as the creator.

      In another story by Noble Sissle (1889-1975), Sissle states that: 'It was reported that the Castles originated the Fox-Trot from James Reese Europe's (1881-1919) version of W.C. Handy's (1873-1958) Memphis Blues (1912), but Sissle says the Castle's reportedly called it the Bunny Hug! ... But the castle's were vehemently against the animal dances of the ragtime era, which included the Bunny Hug. How Fox's name got to it is very unclear, however the original version had Castle similarities' (could be Fox was there and stole the dance?). Some European historians claim it was the Castle's "Castle Walk" dance that was really the Foxtrot (not true ... see Castle Walk.) In 1908, Tom Walton introduced a dance called the Boston Two-step which may or may not be related to the Foxtrot. By 1915 the Foxtrot had become the most successful dance of the day.

      There was even confusion back in the day on it's creator and most of the people were still popular and alive at the time. As an example, in his book "Dancing Made Easy" in 1922 by Charles Coll, he states that:
      "While I have heard many versions of its origin, have listened to many of its self-styled originators, I have credited Captain Vernon Castle (1887-1919) as its originator and preceptor. The story has it that on one of his quests for innovations his attention was called to a certain exclusive colored club. At the time he attended, the members were dancing the Fox Trot, even at that time so-called, and he became enthusiastic over it and determined to bring it out for a little fun for a few. Hardly realizing that the dance was to win for itself a high place in the favor of the many. But this fox that Mr. Castle cornered was a mighty wild one indeed. The writer confesses to being one who predicted its early demise. It was one continuous romp from beginning to end and he felt that it would hardly survive a hard summer and be." As you can see, this was one dance, like the Lindy hop that everyone wanted to lay claim.

      In 10/23/1915 the Oakland Tribune had an article based on "Mathematics are changing dance" and listed the Foxtrot and Waltz as being officially changed by the Dance Masters of the day. But whoever invented the Fox-Trot, the Fox Trot was the dance that changed the dancing world for which we know it today, for without the fox-trot the music and dances which followed might be totally different today. The fast Fox-Trot (originally a One Step) is called the Quickstep today. The fashion world also came aboard with Ladies Foxtrot Suits, Hats, and Coats which really depicted the style of the day.

As a side note...  Arthur Murray started his road to fame and fortune by printing the basic step of the Foxtrot and selling them for 10 cents each through the mail. It was the first time anyone had printed dance steps and sold them mail-order. Also ... in 1912 there was a dance called the Fox Dance (7/21/1912 Oakland Tribune).

 

Birth Place

Creation Date

Creator

Dance Type

New York 6/1913 Harry Fox Ballroom / Couples dance
 

Sheet Music Covers

Music Titles

1905 - The Oriental Foxtrot 1914 - Reuben Foxtrot 1908 - I'm Always Chasing Rainbows
1908 - Cho Cho San (date not confirmed) 1914 - The Squirrel Rag 1908 - Head Over Heels
  1914 - Uriel Davis Foxtrot 1914 - By Heck (Foxtrot)
1908 - Head Over Heels 1914 - You're Here & I'm There 1915 - Bubi Foxtrot
1908 - I'm Always Chasing Rainbows 1915 - Caralina Foxtrot
1908 - The Get Together 1915 - Foxy Foxtrot 1915 - Do The Funny Foxtrot
1911 - Down Home Rag 1915 - Harriman's Cakewalk 1915 - Meadowbrook Foxtrot
1912 - Du Wunderschone Femina 1916 - I Wanna Fox-Trot 1915 - My Tango Girl (Victor Military Band / a Foxtrot)
1914 - By Heck (Eccentric Foxtrot) 1916 - Movie Foxtrot 1915 - Old Folks Foxtrot
1914 - Carolina Foxtrot 1917 - It's A Pippin 1915 - Pryor Foxtrot
1914 - Chevy Chase Fox Trot 1917 - My Fox-trot Girl 1915 - Show Us How to do the Foxtrot**(George Graves)
1914 - Free and Easy 1920 - Anvil Trot
1914 - Kangaroo Hop 1921 - Honolulu Honey (HA. FOX) 1920 - Whispering (Whiteman)
1914 - Maurice's Foxtrot 1922 -Castillian Foxtrot 1925 - The Freshie (Collegiate Fox)
1914 - Meadowbrook Foxtrot (Woodman) 1922 - My Cuban Pearl 1927 - Nina - (Spanish Fox)
1914 - Original Foxtrot Karzan (Oriental) All American Girl (Collegiate Fox)
1914 - Radnor Foxtrot 1929 - Rhythm Man (Connie's Hot Chocolates) Fox Trot Day - McKees's Orchestra (c1915)
  Coo Coo Foxtrot
    Just One Of Those Things (fast)
    $ Let's Dance - Foxtrot & Quickstep CD
    My Cuban Pearl (Castilian Fox)
    You Were Meant For Me (Slow)
 

Night Clubs, Ballroom's etc.

Theaters

Locations

400 Club - (Bond St. NY-7/1914) Rectors Hippodrome Pretty much everywhere!
Aragon Ballroom Gaiety Theatre      
Avalon Ballroom New Brighton Theatre (1915)      
Cinderella Ballroom            
Coconut Grove Ballroom            
Palladium Ballrooms            
Palomar Ballroom            
Roseland Ballroom            
Trianon Ballroom            
 
Video Clips (pop-up)

Films

Television

Ballets / Stage

Not Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window. 1915 - Fox Trot Finesse Dance Fever 1914 - "Tonight's The Night"
Not Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window. 1915 - Fox-Trot Craze, The 1949 - Make Believe Ballroom  1914 - Ziegfeld's "Push and Go"
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window.
1919 - Oyster Princess 1955 - Lawrence Welk Show 1915 - Chin Chin (Falconer/Stevenson)
Not Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window. 1925 - The Freshie 1975 - Queen of the Stardust Ballroom "Danse De Follies Cabaret"
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window.
1930 - High Society Blues 1983 - The Starlight Ballroom 1915 - Midway Winter Garden
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window.
1930s - Foxtrot at the Savoy Ballroom (Harlem) 1988 - Ballroom 1915 - The Red Fox Trot (Howell & Assoc. Players)
Not Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window. 1932 - All American Girl 1988 - Dance Till Dawn    1915 - Watch Your Step**
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window.
1932 - Taxi (James Cagney) 2008+ Dancing With The Stars

Publications

Not Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window. 1933 - Dance Hall Hostess 2008+ So You Think You Can Dance 7/21/1912 - Oakland Tribune (The Fox Dance)
Not Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window. 1937 - Dime a Dance       Jan-June 1913 - North American review (Foxtrot comes into fashion)
Not Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window. 1953 - How To Dance?      
Not Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window. 1992 - Strictly Ballroom [DVD | VHS]       5/29/1914 - Variety Magazine
Not Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window. 1997 - Shall We Dance [DVD | VHS] Japan       7/26/1914 - New York Times
Not Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window. 2004 - Shall We Dance [DVD | VHS] US.       11/1914 - Dancing Times (British)
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window.
1989 - Tribute to Past Foxtrot dancers        
           
 

Instructional DVD's

       
Not Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window. Learn To Dance Foxtrot: A Beginners Guide [DVD]        
Not Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window. You Can Dance - Foxtrot [DVD]        
 

Other Trots and Related Dances of the time...

1480 - Trottart/ 1500s-Trotto Collegiate Fox-Trot Horse Trot (1912) Quick Step Waltz
Apache Dance Continental, The Irish Trot Shiver, the (1912)
Aunt Jemima Slide? (1914) Dallas Dip (1912) Kangaroo Hop Slow Foxtrot
Balance Waltz Davy's Fox Trot La Bomba or Bomba Syncopated Fox Trot
Balloon Foxtrot (1922) Dewey Dip, The Lame Duck Talmadge Foxtrot
Beguine, the Duck Trot, The Lindy Hop Tango
Black Bottom East Coast Swing Lu-Lu Fado Texas Tommy
Boston Two Step / Boston Dip Evelyn Fox Trot One Step Texas Two Step
Bunny Hug / Bunny Wiggle Fast Foxtrot (Quickstep) Maxixe Tipperary Trot
Castillian Fox Trot Fish Walk Oriental Foxtrot Toddle, The
Castle Doggy Fox Trot (1915) Five Step, The Palesteeena Foxtrot Turkey Trot
Castle Foxtrot, the (1915) Footloose Strut Peabody Two Step, the
Castle Walk Fort Worth Shuffle Piccolino, The Waltz
Charleston Foxtrot Cheat? Pigeon Walk Waltz Trot (1915)
Chasseurs Fox Trot Furlough, The? Prince Of Wales Foxtrot (1923) Washington Post March
Cincinnati Two Step Grizzly Bear Roseland Foxtrot Westchester, The
Clifford Trot Half & Half Quick Step (Fast Foxtrot) Yam, the
       
 

Dancers, Choreographers etc.

Political

1912 - Harry Fox Evelyn Nesbit n/a
1912 - Oscar Duryea Florence Walton      
1914 - Annette Woodman & Guy Livingston Jack Clifford      
1914 - Sonia Baraban & Charles C. Grohs Maurice Mouvet      
1915 - Helen Falconer & Douglas Stevenson Stroud Haxton      
1915 - J. Harvey Hume & Miss Wohlsford (Midway Winter Garden) The Castles      
1915 - Josephine Harriman & William Reardon The Champions      
1915 - Mildred Ferris Yansci Dolly      
1915 - Ruby Talbert & F Graham Miller        
G.K Anderson & Josephine Bradley        
M.B. & G. Wilson ... Most dancers of the time      
Arthur Murray        
Elsi Janis        
 

Books, Magazine Articles on the dance...

Title

Author

Date Published

Publisher

Ladies Home Journal Castle, Vernon 11/1914 (new dances for winter)
Handbook of Ballroom Dancing Cree, A.M. 1920 John Lane Co.
Let's Dance Murray, Arthur 1937 Standard Brands Inc.
Dance Encyclopedia Chujoy, Antone 1949 A.S. Barnes
 

Musicians

Publications

Band, Original Dixieland Jazz (Jass) 11/22/1914 - Washington Post (Foxtrot Instructions by Lillian Russell)
Brown, Les 8/20/1914 - Syracuse Herald (Mooch and Foxtrot)
De Sylva & Brown 11/8/1914 - The Constitution (Which Foxtrot is right) Atlanta, GA.
Europe, James Reese 11/23/1914 - Washington Post (Castles Dancing Foxtrot - ADV)
Graves, George (England) 11/30/1914 - Fort Wayne Sentinel (Foxtrot Instructions by Miss Neil)
Miller, Glenn 1/16/1915 - New Fox Trotting Steps (Hume/Wohlsford)
Morey, N.H. 2/9/1915 - Alabama 'Dothan Eagle' - (Falconer/Stevenson)
Newman, Albert N. (1914) 3/7/1915 - Oakland Tribune (Foxtrot Lessons w/ Pics)
Orchestra, Kraus Society (Rectors 1914) 3/12/1915 - Indianapolis Star (Foxtrot Contest)
Weston, Paul 4/7/1915 - Sheboygan Press (Indian Trot - Foxtrot)
Whiteman, Paul 6/20/1915 - Atlanta Constitution (Fox Trot Aids Horse Trotting races)
  9/15/1915 - Middletown Daily Times-Press (Chalif - Changes to Slow Fox)
  10/23/1915 - Oakland Tribune (Mathematics change dance)
 

Misc. Research Words that may be related ... to help your searches

Ballroom Fox City (Hiawatha Hall 1912) Saunter Indian Trot
Blues Partner Vaudeville     
Castles Prohibition (1919-1933) Wedding    
Couples Dancing Ragtime/Jazz Era Ziegfeld    
Dance        
 
 

Other...

Basic Step:
Two Walking Steps forward and a Chasse' (Side+Step).
Basically a slow, slow, Quick-Quick (6 beats).
Leader faces partner, Leader usually starts forward.
Leader starts with Left-Foot, Follower-Right.
There are many variations of patterns and steps.
There is a popular waltz version done to 2/4 time.

Later on in years, Murray's "Magic Step" became the main
basic step. (Originally the "Magic step" was just the
Collegiate Swing.
) Today, there are the International, now called standard, and American versions.
Some original pattern names are the:
Collegiate Swing (magic step), The Westchester (side by side), St. Louis Shuffle, Collegiate Corte',
Corte' Turn, Conversation Step, Corte' Dip, Going to Town, Open Step.

Note: A.M. Cree in 1920 stated the Foxtrot as a 1/2 - 1/2, with a step taken on One and another on Two, repeating and done to march music (thought this was interesting).
Fox trot steps Diagram
  • Note: The 'Magic Step' is a trademark of Arthur Murray International Dance Studios.