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the Two Step

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Streetswings Dance History Archives: Two Step
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The Two Step

   The Original Two-Step was a simple dance that caught on with the public when John Phillip Sousa came out with the "Washington Post March " in 1891. The old quadrilles, glides and reels were cast aside in favor of dances such as the Two-Step. Many songs doubled as one or Two-Steps (crossovers).

   This Two-Step comes from the "Valse a' deux temps" (waltz) or Deux Temps for short. The dance consisted of a series of chasse's, forward or sideways with a skip in each step and was done to 2/4 or 4/4 time (basically a triple step or Quick-Quick-Slow). Altho done in three steps, the Two Step getting it's name from the two Quick Steps used.

   There was a mass amount of music written as a Two-step and / or march. When ragtime suddenly appeared, the Sousa marches started to wain, however some patterns of the two-step still remain in the Fox-trot of today. In 1847, in his book "La Danse des Salons", Henri Cellarius expressed his regrets about the use of the term "deux temps" stating that the dance would be better accepted if it were called "deux pas" (two step) as the term better described the step of the dance (he also suggested that the trois temps would be better called the "trois pas" - "three step").

 About the Texas Two-Step of Later years:
  In many's haste to find the Texas Two-Step source today, many conceive Sousa's to be it's historical parent, as it's the easiest information to find. However the 'Collegiate foxtrot' was the parent of the Texas Two Step (also see Collegiate Foxtrot for a better and obvious description.) The Collegiate Foxtrot was done in the late 1910's and was later revived during the early 1940's in the square dance Community for the kids, which soon again became very popular among the young square and round dancers of that time. As time went on many people in the Country community lost it's roots and began calling it the 'Texas Two' or 'Country Foxtrot'. As these Kids got older it became a stable dance for all to do in the Square dance community, which later became the STAPLE DANCE in the Country Western dance community as well. The Texas Two-Step (Slo-Slo-Quick-Quick version) has nothing to do with Sousa's original dance done to Sousa's music or the Original Two-Step described on this page, except in its similar name.

Birth Place

Creation Date


Dance Type

USA 1891 none Couples / Folk

Posters, Lobby Cards etc.

Sheet Music Covers

Music Titles

n/a 1891- Washington Post March 1891 - Washington Post March
      1907 - SQ. Two Step 1902 - Stanton Park 2 Step
      1908 - Boston Two-Step Charlie Two Step
      1946 - Spanish Two Step (Wills) I'd Rather Two Step than Waltz
        La Polichinette
        Zambesi Dance (La Dance Du Zambesi)
Browse Sheet


Ballrooms / Night Clubs



n/a n/a n/a

Films / Movies


Ballets / Stage

1907 - Jamaica Negroes doing a Two-Step n/a n/a
1908 - I'd Rather Two Step than Waltz        

Newspaper / Mag Publications

            The Two Step Magazine (1894-1920)
            10/18/1895 - Daily Kennebec Journal

Other Related Dances of the time...

Apache Dance Fox Trot / Quick-Step Knickerbocker Shimmy
Barn Dance Gaby Glide Lame Duck Square Dance
Boston Two-Step Grizzly Bear Louisiana Two Step Tango
Bunny Hug Half and Half Maxixe Texas Two Step 
Cakewalk Harry Landis 2-Step (1910)  Military 2-Step March Texas Tommy
California - Two Step Heel and Toe One Step Toddle, The
Castle Walk Hesitation Dances Peabody Trilby Two Step (1895)
Collegiate Foxtrot Horse Trot Polka Turkey Trot
Dallas Two-Step Kangaroo Hop Round Dance Veleta
    Schottische Waltz

Dancers, Choreographers etc.


Most Couple Dancers of the Time n/a
Ann Pennington Fred Astaire  
Arthur Murray Gaby Deslys  
Castles, The Joseph Santley  
Duryea Maurice Mouvet  
Florence Walton Ned Wayburn  

Books, Magazine Articles on the dance...



Date Published


"Harry Landis Two Step" n/a 1910 The Ladies Home Journal
La Danse des Salons Henri Cellarius 1847 N/A



Poets / Writers

Bob Wills (1905- 5/15/1975) n/a n/a
John Phillip Sousa    

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

Animal Dances Hoe Down Taxi Dancers  
Ballroom Dance Round Dance Vintage Dance -
Barn Dance Square Dance WWI Dances    

The Basic Step

Quick-Quick-Slow (Alternating Feet) 123-123. Arms wrapped around each other, bent forward.
October 22, 2012