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Boston Dance photo
The Boston Dance history archives origin Title
          The American Waltz was originally called the Boston. Reason being that it was first introduced in Boston, MA. in 1834 by dancing master Lorenzo Papatino (partner n/a) when Mrs. Otis Beacon Hill, hired Papatino to give a dance exhibition at her mansion. Papatino danced a much slower and smoother type waltz (three steps per measure) than most were used to for that time period ... he/they called it the Boston. The Boston today when mixed with the Hesitation Waltz is known as the American or Slow Waltz (90 bpm's) with a little Valse L'American thrown in, it is still danced, though somewhat changed, today.

     Originally, the Boston was different and generally danced slower than the other waltzes of the period (1800's). Mainly it was of slower tempo than the popular Viennese Waltz of the period. This slower version was becoming rapidly popular.

The Boston also laid claim to be the first ballroom dance to be done with feet parallel rather than turned out, as in ballet (Sadie, 1980.) During these times many variations of the Boston vied for the publics acceptence. Many dances and songs were named "Some titled_Boston" or some other states name like "Chicago Valse" etc. Eventually the Boston ment American.... like Boston Waltz = American Waltz, or Boston One Step = American One Step etc. It somewhat became an umbrella term.

     There were 4 different versions of the Boston, not including the Boston Dip (around 1870) which was just a dipping variation in the Boston, done by a huge step that would make the knees bend or "Dip" the body down and and was danced with the partners holding their hands on each others hips.
     1) American Boston (Slower),
     2) French Boston (More Rapid)
     3) Imitative Boston (? Imitating something or someone obviously).
     4) Valse L' Americaine was first composed in 1866 by the Societe' Academique des Profeseurs de danse de Paris. (French version of the Boston).

     Originally, (Kinney's book explains that), the distinguishing step-combination was complete in one measure (1&2-3&4). Its essence is in a certain effect of syncopation, secured by keeping the weight on the same foot through two successive beats, contrary to the practice of transferring the weight with each beat, as with the old Waltz. Another peculiarity of the Boston was the carriage of the weight counter to the line of direction of travel, giving an effect of holding back. The dance is performed with deliberation; its execution aims at a rather "grand" style. The "dip" characteristic (later removed) of and named for the Boston was, in its execution, the same as the "dip" when done in the One-step. Many people wanted the Dip removed from the dance as it was hard on the dancers bodies, however it found a new home in the early 1910's with the exhibition dancers of the day...

     The Boston Dip was, in practice, a series of three successive dips, executed in reverse turning movement. Each of the three occupies a whole measure, and a fourth measure is used in returning to the regular Boston walking step ... (As an aid), count as follows: Step,' Dip,' Point-dip, Step,' Dip,' Turn. ' Turn in the regular direction, not in reverse; and accompany the turn also with a dip. The step description at the bottom of the page applies to the Long Boston (Philadelphia). In the Short Boston each beat was made to the equivalent of two counts for the feet. The resulting jerkiness and lack of sweep excluded the Short Boston from any lasting popularity.

     The Philadelphia Boston was popular in the early 1900's and the music was waltz done quite fast. It was also known as One-step Waltz , the Long Boston and The Drop Step, (on account of all the steps being dropped or eliminated except the one).

     In London it was also called the Berceuse or Cradle Boston which was the form of Boston most popular at the time and reportedly the most difficult dance for the ballroom on account of the simplicity of its composition. It depended entirely upon each individual to create a most graceful dance, from actually only one step to the measure, and to rotate progressively around the room. After a little practice by the beginner it will be noticed that there was not much progression in this movement, and that it was quite difficult to move as quickly around the room as in the old dance (the Waltz and the Two-step); so it was necessary to add a few other movements which will bring about the desired result, Such as the Spanish Boston and the Herring Bone Boston which was taught for several years, closely resembling the Hesitation Waltz which was so popular at the time. The Canter Waltz was basically two steps per measure.

     An interesting side note speaking of Hesitations, In 1913 Albert Newman created the Hesitation Boston (One Step per Measure) which merged with the Boston, in which used a pattern he called the "The Stroll" he states: Gracefully walk backward four steps, starting with the left foot one measure, right foot one measure, left foot one measure and right foot one measure. Now walk forward to the left oblique, having the lady in Yale Position four steps (left foot one measure, right foot one measure, left foot one measure, right foot one measure). Second Part.-- Boston Turning to the right four measures". This is very similar to the stroll of the 1960s.

     Allen Dodsworth (1840's) states when explaining the Redowa (basically a waltz): "At this slow speed many persons failed in accenting the Redowa correctly, gradually falling into the simpler succession of slide, change, leap, as in the polka; after a time this was called polka Redowa, and completely displaced the Redowa. The name was, however, retained in the Redowa waltz, and a distinction was made between that and the ordinary waltz by springing with great energy upon the leap--the "too-too's" (or excessive's) of those days not failing to make their disposition known by exaggerating the leap. Our beautiful waltz of today (the Boston) is a subdued Redowa. Those who failed in those days, finding this Redowa beyond their powers of accomplishment, modified it to the hop waltz, as those who fail now modify the waltz to what is called the Boston."

     The Boston waned in popularity in the early 1900's, but stimulated the English or International style of waltz done today.

Click here to view the Waltz -- Timeline

Birth Place

Creation Date


Dance Type

Boston, MA. 1834 Lorenzo Papatino Waltz

Posters, Lobby Cards etc.

Sheet Music Covers

Music Titles

n/a 1843 - The Bourd waltz Dreaming (Victor Military Band)
  1850 - La Bostonienne Valse Boston Band
  Boston Racquet Galop Przeminęło z wiatrem (Gone w/ The Wind) Stefan Witas
  1879 - Boston Wave Waltz Sympathy Waltz (Victor Sylvester)
  1893 - After The Ball (Harris) Valse Boston / Valse melancolique (Künneke)
  Hesitation - Valse Boston Destiny - Valse Boston (Sydney Baynes)
  1911 - Dreaming Valse - Boston  
  1913 - L 'hesitation  
  1915 - Old Fashioned Waltz  
  1918 - Sweetheart let us Dance the Boston  
  Boston Beguine ... See Waltz Titled Music Lists

Night Clubs



n/a n/a n/a

Films / Clips


Ballets / Stage

1934 - Boston Waltzes (Marina Semyonova) (Clip) n/a n/a
Take This Waltz    



  1834 - Lorenzo Papatino 11/23/1913 - Washington Post (Hesitation explained)
  1900's - Maurice Mouvet  
  1910's - The Castles  
  1913 - R.M Crompton  
  1934 - Marina Semenova  

Other Related Dances of Waltz ...

Aeroplane Waltz Francais Landler
American Waltz Fuhrung Lindbergh Wave Waltz
Balance Waltz Gavotte Marimba Waltz
Barn Dance Half and Half Mazurka
Branle Harvard Hesitation Waltz Minuet
Cantor Waltz Hesitation Waltz Nizzarda
Cotillion Hop Waltz Pavane
Contra Danses Innovation Waltz Polka
Courante International Waltz Quadrilles
Czarina Waltz Jitterbug Waltz Redowa
Edelweiss Waltz Ju-Jitsu Waltz Rye Waltz
Flower Waltz Kathlyn Waltz Six Step Waltz
Dances of Court Lancers Swing Waltz

Various Boston Dances

Boston Racquet Galop (1881) English or Three Step Boston Philadelphia Boston
Boston Point English Berceuse Royal Boston Waltz
Boston Quickstep Five Step Boston Russian Boston (Newman)
Boston Wave Waltz Four Step Boston Seven Step Boston
Count of Luxembourg Herring Bone Boston Short Boston
Cradle Boston Hesitation Boston (Newman) Spanish Boston (stairs)
Cross Boston Long Boston Staircase Boston
Double Boston New York Boston Two Step Boston
Double Triple Boston Nights of Gladness Waltz Three Step Boston
Drop Step One Step Waltz (Philadelphia) Triple Boston

Books, Magazine Articles on the dance...





Dick's quadrille call-book, and ballroom prompter
Dick & Fitzgerald 1878 Dick & Fitzgerald
The Dance, Ancient and Modern Arabella C. Moore 1900  
Traité de la danse G. Desrat 1900  
Dancing at Home and Abroad Cleveland, C.H. Jr.   C.H. Ditson
Dances of Today Albert W. Newman 1913  
Social Dancing of Today Kinney, Troy 1914 Frederick A. Stokes
Dancing Till Dawn Malnig, Julie 1992 N.Y. University Press

Musicians / Bands

Poets / Writers

$ Art Of Dress 1500-1914

Bach, Johann Sebastian (1685-1750) Nokhm Azriyel The Art Of Dress 1500 to 1914
Harris, Charles K. (1865-1930)  
Lanner, Franz (1801-1843)  
Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus (1756-1791)  
Strauss, Johann II (1825-1899)    
collectors note: National Promenade Band (1909) Edison Blue Amberol Record #2267 - 'Nights Of Gladness Waltz Boston' (Charles Ancliffe) For Dancing - Cylinder

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

Ballroom English Landler Volta
Glide International Valse Walzer

Basic Step: (by Dodsworth)
The motion step is the same as described in the account of radical motions. When stepping with the right foot, the left knee is slightly bent, producing the dip, from which the name 'Boston Dip' was derived.

In stepping with the left foot, bend the right knee. The motion rise is simply raising the heel of the foot upon which the step is made, marking the third beat by the descent. The turn is made by changing the angles of the steps, and twisting upon the foot at the rise, while the heel is up.
Right turn, right forward, left backward. -- Left turn (reverse), left forward, right backward.