1934 Blues Are Lively

Unfortunately the 7 Feb 1930 edition of the Nottingham Evening Post is missing from the archives so we’ll probably never know what the blues steps mentioned in the 31 Jan 1930 edition were without making a trip to the library (sorry Sara). However, there is a description of ballroom blues steps from 1934 which I’ve pasted below. I’m not sure the steps themselves are that interesting but I like this article because you can see how dances changed and evolved as fashion and music changed.

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ON WITH THE DANCE

1934 Blues Are Lively… Some Basic Steps… You Dance Them When You Can’t Dance Foxtrot

By VICTOR SILVESTER

BLUES steps are still much the same as they have been for years, but a subtle difference has come into the character of the dance.

Under its own name it features very little in dance programmes. Few tunes are labelled “Blues”. Nearly everything in four four time is called foxtrot. But Blues steps are used freely all over the country.

They are not specially associated now with those wailing tunes that used to be their characteristic music. Blues steps are danced to any slow foxtrot and there is a strong tendency to make a merry dance of them. Charleston steps are highly popular. “Pep” and vigour is the fashion.

Some weeks ago I described a new dance called the Charleston Blues for you. Of course you can use only Charleston Blues steps to a number if you like, but I think you will get the maximum of enjoyment out of the dance if you combine Charleston Blues steps in about equal proportions.

You will have plenty of opportunity to work out your own favourite combinations, for slow tunes are very popular this season. If you are in a small crowded room you must dance Blues to all slow foxtrots. Slow foxtrot is difficult in a small room. It is impossible in a crowded room.

There are fanatics who insist on trying slow foxtrot steps whatever the conditions. In a crowd they merely make themselves a nuisance – I had almost said a danger – to other dancers, and probably ruin their own tempers into the bargain. Equally irritating are the couples often seen on West End floors who indulge in a kind of heel tapping. It may be fun, but it is very bad dancing.

Real Blues steps are very easy to learn and very pleasant to perform. They can be done in quite a small space, but the slow tempo quickly shows up an uncertainty in your balance.

The dance is built up of chasses, twinkles and closed or chasse turns, in contrast to the three-steps and open turns of slow foxtrot.

A chasse consists of three steps generally counted quick quick slow, with the feet closed on the second step. It may be taken in any direction, forward. backward or to the side.

A twinkle is a particular kind of chasse taken forward, together, back, or back, together, forward, beginning with either foot.

The characteristic Blues walk has a slight lilt to it. This is achieved by relaxing the  left knee very slightly as the right foot moves forward and the right knee very slightly as the left foot moves forward.

The basic steps are the side chasses to right and left, the natural turn and the reverse turn.

Side Chasse to Right

  1. Forward on LF (S).
  2. To the side on RF (Q).
  3. Close LF up to RF (Q).
  4. To the side again on RF (S).
  5. Brush LF up close past RF and forward (S).

Side Chasse to Left

  1. Forward on RF (S).
  2. To the side on LF (Q).
  3. Close RF up to LF (Q).
  4. To side again on LF (S).
  5. Forward and slightly across to R on LF (S).

The Natural Turn

  1. Forward on RF, turning R (S).
  2. To the side on LF still turning (Q).
  3. Close RF up to LF (Q).
  4. Back on LF, turning R (S)
  5. To the side on RF (Q).
  6. Close LF up to RF (Q).
  7. To the side on RF (S).
  8. Brush LF close past RF and forward (S).

The Reverse

  1. Forward on LF, turning L (S).
  2. To the side on RF, still turning (Q).
  3. Close LF up to RF (Q).
  4. Back on RF, turning L (S).
  5. To the side of LF (Q).
  6. Close RF up to LF (S).
  7. Forward on the LF (S).

The Cross Chasse

  1. Forward on the LF (S).
  2. To the side on RF (Q).
  3. Close LF up to RF (Q).
  4. Forward on RF outside your partner (S).

The Rock.

  1. Forward on LF rising on toes and keeping RF behind (S).
  2. Back on to the RF, rising and keeping LF in front (S). If you repeat this, turn slightly to the left on each step and maintain a contrary body movement position on each step.

Next Week: The Croon, A New Dance.

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One response to “1934 Blues Are Lively”

  1. Sara says :

    Even more fascinated by ‘Charleston Blues’! Thank you! 😀

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