Back To Homepage

The Soft Shoe

Ballrooms Burlesque Dancers Burlesque Contests Contests Dance Dance Dancers Dancers Dance Marathons Marathons Dance Movies Movies Dance Posters Posters Vintage Dance Sheet Music Covers Sheet Music Dance Forum Store Torupes and Dance Groups Troupes Reload this page from server Refresh

You Are here:
Photo Not Available

    The Soft Shoe is traced back to the Old Virginia Essence dance and the minstrels who perfected it. The Essence was a very smooth and graceful dance that all professional minstrel song and dance men would do. Its graceful motions and elegance would evolve into the beginnings of the Soft Shoe which is a form of Tap Dance.

     Although it was done earlier, George Primrose is considered the man who developed the soft shoe and influenced both Black and White minstrel dancers alike. Charles Johnson, Greenlee and Drayton, Jack Wiggins, Willie Covan and Eddie Rector were pioneers and masters at the Soft Shoe.

     Willie Covan and his first partner Leonard Ruffin (Ruffin was better than Covan in the Soft Shoe) helped define the Class Act team using the Soft-Shoe as their base, they were so good in fact they got fired from the Palace Theatre in New York. The Palace was the place to be if you were good and Covan and Ruffin were good. After they would perform at the Palace, nobody could go on after them as the audience booed every act after them, after shifting them around in different spots with the same results, they had to fire them. Same thing happened to them at the Hippodrome Theatre.

Birth Place

Creation Date


Dance Type

Detroit George Primrose Vernacular / Free Style  

Posters, Lobby Cards etc.

Sheet Music Covers

Music Titles

n/a n/a  

Night Clubs



  Hippodrome n/a
      Palace Theatre (Covan & Ruffin)      

Films / Movies

Ballets / Stage

1929 - Hallelujah! (Sand Soft Shoe) n/a
1929 - Marking Time (Pat Rooney jr.)      
1935 - Top Hat (Astaire w/ Sand)      
1934 - March of Time, the (Barney Fagan. MGM)      
1944 - Solid Sending Soft Shoe Specialist (Holmes)      

Instructional Videos


n/a n/a

Other Related Dances of the time...

Arkansas Traveler Shim Sham Virginia Essence    
Buck and Wing Soft-Shoe      
Sand Dance Tap Dance      

Dancers, Choreographers etc.


Barney Fagan Jack Wiggins n/a
Charles Johnson Lathrop Brothers and Virginia  
Eddie Rector Leonard Ruffin  
Fred Astaire Pat Rooney  
George Primrose 'Rubberneck' Holmes  
Greenlee and Drayton Willie Covan  

Books, Magazine Articles on the dance...

Title Author Date Published Publisher
$ Jazz Dance: The Story of American ... Stearns, Marshall 1994 Da Capo Press




Poets / Writers

n/a n/a n/a n/a

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

Class Acts      
November 20, 2012