Cross Step Polka

{c. 1890}


This is an odd little polka variation that I haven't found described anywhere outside M. B. Gilbert's Round Dancing (1890).*

It's not a very practical variation, being virtually impossible to lead and follow socially as described, but it's a fun challenge.

* It is, however, referenced in an 1889 newspaper article as a dance being taught in Los Angeles. It's also included (as an option) in a 1901 sequence dance by Isidore Sampson called The Sylph.

The Dance

The Position

Waltz position throughout [MG90].

The Steps

She does the first half of a Glide Polka (a.k.a. Four-Slide Galop) (1-and-2-and-3-and-4) while he dances: step (1), hop (and), cross (2), hop (and), polka (3-and-4), turning halfway around together on count 4. Then she does the cross-step part while he does a Four-Slide Galop (5, 6, 7, 8) [MG90].

While this "he goes, she goes" structure is clearly specified by Gilbert ("The lady commences at second part; doing second part while the gentleman does first part, and vice versa"), the 1998 Library of Congress reconstruction introduced another creative possibility: that both partners do the cross-step part together (which, coincidentally, makes the whole variation much easier to lead and follow).

The Music

Polka music.


© 2015, 2018 Nick Enge

For more dance descriptions, see our three books on dancing:
The Book of Mixers: 100 Easy-Teach Dances for Getting Acquainted (2022) by Richard Powers and Nick & Melissa Enge,
Cross-Step Waltz: A Dancer's Guide (2019) by Richard Powers and Nick & Melissa Enge, and
Waltzing: A Manual for Dancing and Living (2013) by Richard Powers and Nick Enge.

For full-length teaching videos, visit: University of Dance.

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