2 Step Correct Foot Position -- Toe to Toe or?

#1
We are back in the lesson mode again. This time we're trying to learn regular 2 step instead of triple two step. I'm curious as to what you feel is the correct foot position. Should the partners be toe to toe? Or should the lead be offset to his left, with the right foot going between the legs of the lady?
 

kayak

Active Member
#2
Toe to toe. It is your body motion towards her that makes her move. Since you lead that motion with your upper body, there isn't much chance of hitting feet. The main place I use offset of even outside partner positions is in waltz.

Remember, most of the patterns in 2-step are led from promenade position.
 
#3
Thanks for the response. When we took the triple two step lessons, I thought we were taught offset, but I really can't remember. I checked a few spots before our lessons started this time. The Dance Store Online tips said "Though all of this sounds like common sense, more than 90% of social dancers will either bounce, stutter step, look down at their feet, or allow their frame and posture to collapse."

On the stutter step issue they recommended an offset stance to be sure you pass your feet, and even say the inside of your right calf should brush the inside of the lady's right calf. We also have a Shawn Trautman video and he recommends the offset position too. But then he watches his feet!

In any case you are on the same side as our latest instructor. He says toe to toe, and also put me in the penalty box for steps being too long. Guess I over corrected the stutter step issue!
 

kayak

Active Member
#4
With Triple 2-step having so many arcs and almost no straight triples, I usually think more about iron crosses and body shaping than toe position for that dance.

The thing with 2-step is your body moves and then your feet vs a smooth dance like waltz where the the lower body and feet move and then the upper body pendulums over. So if your frame is good in 2-step and she fills into your frame, there shouldn't be opportunities for running into each other. That is why you never have to be outside partner. If your hitting toes, running her over and feel like being offset, I would look at frame and filling the frame as the culprits.
 
#5
OK, will try those tips. We are not having big issues with toes being stepped on, either way. Well at least until my partner starts to get tired. We're taking 2 hour classes and she can be pretty tired by the end of class.

And, in any case I will follow the instructor method during class, so I can stay out of the penalty box...
 

Steve Pastor

Moderator
Staff member
#6
Hey, Ron, are you talkin' "correct" as in being judged in a competition?

I couldn't resist, and began looking at my reference materials, going back to Lloyd Shaw, and including books published in the late 70s through the 80s to see if this is even mentioned.

I dance "cowboy" or "redneck" "hold", so there is more room between me and my partner. I find myself sometimes stepping to the side of my partner, then crossing over to the other side. I can get more energy and movement into my own body, while not forcing my partner to go with me. (If you listen, you can hear a fair amount of changing energy in the current songs. "Barefoot Blue Jean Night" is a good example of what I'm talking about. http://www.cmt.com/videos/jake-owen/667708/barefoot-blue-jean-night.jhtml )

Last night I danced with a young gal who had told another guy at Stoney's that she danced "ballroom". I think she told me that she had not done two step before. When we were done, she was just thrilled to have done some fairly complex stuff.
It made me thaing that CW dancers care less about being "correct" than some other dancers I can think of.

But, hey, you ARE taking lessons. You in Vegas, Ron? Ever take any WCS lessons there?
 
#7
I'm in Canada and we just visited Vegas in the Spring. For sure we are not talking competition. Our instructors said they just won a competition, so I suppose they should know the "correct" way. It was just a matter of curiosity.

We have not attempted WCS yet, but have taken some lessons in Jive. Perhaps WCS will be next. However more Latin is likely as we like to go to Mexico or some similar place warm in winter.
 

Steve Pastor

Moderator
Staff member
#8
Not that it matters...

1980 Tony Leiser "Country Dance Steps" based on what they were doing at Gilley's in Pasadena, Texas before "Urban Cowboy"... Although he didn;t write about it, the "Texas Two- Step" pix clearly show Gator (one of the people who taught John Travolta to two step) off-set, rather than toe to toe with his partner Peggy.
But, see, they were dancing the original quick quick slow, and Gator's got a "ballroom hold" going, rather than the the cowboy hold, so they are closer together.
 
#9
1980 Tony Leiser "Country Dance Steps" based on what they were doing at Gilley's in Pasadena, Texas before "Urban Cowboy"... Although he didn;t write about it, the "Texas Two- Step" pix clearly show Gator (one of the people who taught John Travolta to two step) off-set, rather than toe to toe with his partner Peggy.
But, see, they were dancing the original quick quick slow, and Gator's got a "ballroom hold" going, rather than the the cowboy hold, so they are closer together.

Our instructor is teaching what I would call the ballroom hold. Man's right hand under arm and pointer finger firm on the shoulder blade of the lady. Lady's left is outside and on top of man's, with the V between index finger and thumb on top and just forward of man's shoulder.

I'm assuming the "cowboy hold" is with the man's right on top of the lady's shoulder? We only used that hold, actually with both left and right on top of lady's shoulders when learning what he calls the "partner turn". It gives you a little more control of the lady. But, he has now returned us to the ballroom hold even for the partner turn now.

Sometimes I think there are as many "correct" methods in dance as there are instructors...
 

Steve Pastor

Moderator
Staff member
#10
I'm really enjoying learning about the way things were done before country western got big and national competitions standardized things and made them more ballroom like. (lots of interlibrary loans!) Most of the older books encourage people to develop their own style. And, most of them say that you'll probably find people doing something diferent if you go somewhere else, even another club in the same town. (All of this had yet to arract the attention of an organization such as the "Dance Masters of America".)
So, yeah, none of them are "correct", and they all are!
 
#11
It's nice to hear that there are a different opinions on this. I'd like to think there is no one correct way. Right now I'm enjoying reading the Pablo Stories, about CW dancing in southern California in the Urban Cowboy era. Somebody on this forum -- can't recall who -- mentioned the book and I was on Amazon within the hour.
I have no idea whether the two-step as done today originated in California or in the Houston (my hometown) area or somewhere else. I do know that two very good teachers here teach a slight offset, with a view over the right shoulder. Most CW dancers here seem to dance far enough away from each other, and change tracks so often, that it probably doesn't matter exactly where they are standing when the music starts.
 

kayak

Active Member
#12
I agree that a couple inches either way will make very little difference. We just don't spend much time in closed position. Plus, our floors are so crowded with dancers that where I step is as much floor craft to avoid other couples as it is specific technique. Two-step is awesome; how to lead a crazy number of turns in the middle of a massive traffic jam :D
 

Steve Pastor

Moderator
Staff member
#13
Somebody on this forum -- can't recall who -- mentioned the book and I was on Amazon within the hour.
May have been me. I picked it up at the library as I was browsing one day. Very much enjoyed the book.

Rick Archer in Houston writes that his city created "Western Swing". Unless I miss my guess, though, it's two step with fancy turns. He's written a bunch, but you can start here: http://www.ssqq.com/stories/westswng.htm
if you're interested.

Meanwhile, I know of at least one couple who taught in Santa Monica, and other LA county locations, the Cracknells, who learned traditional two step - quick quick slow, from Betty Casey in Texas because they went there for a wedding. (Their picture is in Casey's "Dance Across Texas") Another instructor, Wiley Hicks, moved from Texas to "LA" to capitalize on the "Urban Cowboy" craze. He claimed to have influenced all the teachers in LA, which made Maria Cracknell chuckle as being quite an exageration.

I haven't come across any claims that "modern" two step came from California.

(Meanwhile, I see that one of the "ballroom" dance schools in the LA area, run by Derrall and Chloe Call, located just a few miles from the Town Hall Party in Compton, had 5,500 students in 1956, and wore Western clothes for their Woodrow Wilson High School group photos in 56-57.)
 
#15
Our instructor has some common themes which he keeps repeating. One is that he teaches the "new" way of dancing the two step. To put this in perspective he also likes to tell us he has been teaching two step for 30 years, so the meaning of "new" is subject to some interpretation. That said, the "old way" is the way old uncle Jed danced. He describes it as the slow, slow, quick, quick version but with some closing steps instead of all passing. He also claims slow, slow, quick, quick puts you off the music compared to quick, quick, slow, slow. Not so sure about that one, as you are using one and a half measures to complete a 6 beat basic either way, and will only start a basic at the beginning of every second measure. Another theme of the "new" style is no bounce or hesitation -- only old Uncle Jed does that.

I did some more checking around and to my original question, I still think slightly offset is more commonly practiced than toe to toe. I did find a short YouTube video of John Travolta in Urban Cowboy. Hard to tell what he was really doing with the feet, but upper body seemed smooth. He also used the cowboy hold and not the ballroom.
 

kayak

Active Member
#16
There is a whole thread named "Who Stole 2-Step" from a while back that might be worth looking at. Some details from much more accomplished dancers than me in it. I learned the all passing feet version vs the chase' version. However, I do see a number of people using the older version.
 
#17
Thanks Kayak for the reference to the other thread. I think I found it under a slightly different name "Who hijacked the Two Step?" It made for a good read.

Interestingly the OP may have been related to my instructor's "Uncle Jed". Our instructor dealt with this by starting us out with measured steps, rather than timed steps. Specifically 12", 12", 24" and 24", obviously all passing. For the lady's underarm turn, you shorten them to 10", 10", to give more room for the turn, then lengthen to 26" and 26" to catch up.

After he gets the length of steps down, he moves to timing, and seems to prefer a 1, 2, 3, 5 count. He also uses the Q-Q-S-S method. But to my ear and eye, he is really dancing Q, Q, Q, -S-. Or, at least it feels that way as three quick steps and then hold 5 to stay in time with the music. Although he suggests shortening steps as the music tempo increases, this method I think gives you more time, as you can lose a bit on the first three steps and make it up with the fourth step.

This dance is interesting as it is actually popular in the country. But, in the country most people just learn from others and don't take dance classes. It is the city (non country) folk that take lessons. That complicates the analysis as to which way is right and which is wrong...
 

kayak

Active Member
#18
I think you will find that it actually dances Q,Q,Q hold, Q hold. I haven't been exposed to trying to set a specific step size for a Q or S. I usually adjust that based upon the song and how fast my partner moves. You should absolutely hit the beat with your step. We don't bridge beats like happens with slow smooth dances.

Being out in the country isn't isolated like it was 100 years ago. Everyone can get a dance lesson if they want one even in a town of 5,000 people. If not, then everyone wants to drive to a bigger town for some fun :p
 
#19
Steve, I think it WAS you who mentioned the Pablo book.
By the way, SSQQ -- I don't think they'll ever change it to QQSS, although they do teach the modern version -- has changed ownership and moved to a very nice hall that, finally, has a big parking lot so you no longer have to find space on the street or on the property of other businesses. Rick is still very much involved; I think he's organizing the various trips and cruises that have always been part of the studio's appeal. There's a story of long standing that attributes Two-Step as we know it, unintentionally, to John Travolta. Reportedly, all these studios that had been teaching hustle ever since Saturday Night Fever were suddenly swamped with demands to be taught how to dance like Bud and Sissy.
(Again reportedly) the dancing at Gilley's etc. before Urban Cowboy was far to simple for studios to make much money teaching it, so the studios had a meeting and constructed a complicated, high-octane form of two-step based on foxtrot and adorned with lots of spins, wraps, ducks, tunnels, pretzels, carousels, airplanes, and so on. So of course, the point was, it all started in Houston.
I don't doubt my fair city had a big part, but I suspect that those changes were sweeping the country at the time, so to speak.
 
#20
I think you will find that it actually dances Q,Q,Q hold, Q hold.... Being out in the country isn't isolated like it was 100 years ago. Everyone can get a dance lesson if they want one even in a town of 5,000 people. If not, then everyone wants to drive to a bigger town for some fun :p
Agree on the Q,Q,Q hold, Q hold count. I believe it is the same as the 1, 2, 3, 5 method.

No intent to slight the country folk. Was probably thinking more locally. Our part of Canada is kind of like Texas. In the country there still are big ranches, and real cowboys that ride horses and roundup cattle. Not saying all, but I suspect many do not get into the formal dance lesson thing. Sons learn from mom, daughters from dad, and probably some uncle Jed's. I haven't been to a real country dance in a few years. I will be sure to watch for the style used the next time we go.
 

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