The First World Wide Dance Craze…

Before Swing or Hip Hop became a global dance craze of wild teens and before the Tango introduced it’s passion to the world, there was another dance craze shocking mothers and refined society – The Waltz!

That’s right kids – the dance we’ve come to know as the epitome of genteel society was a common country dance once censured for its audacious wide, galloping steps and closed position partnering!  As most of Europe continued to prance around in tight knickers with powdered wigs doing the minuet, bored aristocrats began joining their servants for more lively country parties.

“…he put his arm around her, pressed her to his breast, cavorted with her in the shameless, indecent whirling-dance of the Germans and engaged in a familiarity that broke all the bounds of good breeding,” – German novelist Sophie von LaRoche

As is happens with most folk dances, the Waltz became popular and moved into the ballroom.  Steps and styles were codified then shipped all over the world – from Vienna to the Americas.  Over the next 100 years, the first worldwide dance craze would spark a variety of waltz styles and new ballroom dances.

See 4 Different Waltzes in Action

Viennese Waltz

This original waltz was faster than the common slow waltz we think of today, but is still a favorite national pastime of Austria.  Partners dance in rotation around the ballroom without any of the sways or breaks we see in the American style waltz.

International Waltz

This classic “slow” waltz is what we might commonly think of as a waltz with its slow gliding steps and smooth rise-fall motion.  In keeping with the original Viennese style, partners do not break away from each at any point in the dance.

American Waltz

Unlike its European cousins, the American (Smooth) Waltz involves open and side-by-side figures, side sways, underarm turns and other modern touches.  Vernon & Irene Castle helped to popularize the “Hesitation Waltz” which combined gliding steps with halting steps (from a dance called the Boston Waltz) to reflect Ragtime syncopation in the 3/4 time of the Waltz.  Then Fred & Ginger came along to renew American interest in Smooth Ballroom styles – their waltz in the movie “Swing Time” involves much of the open positions and breakaways common to American Ballroom.

Hesitation Waltz

Fred & Ginger American Smooth Waltz


Waltz is a lovely standard that can be adapted to various musical styles or kept in its purest form.  And it still makes a lovely Wedding dance for any couples first time around the floor!  Learn a little more about the Waltz with one our Atomic Ballroom Instructors then come out to Atomic Irvine on Saturday night and promenade about the floor like Fred & Ginger!

 A Little Jitterbug Waltz for the Swinger’s Out There!