Ragtime One Step


General Description

Vernon and Irene Castle describe the One Step this way: "the gentleman starts forward with his left foot, and the lady backward with her right, walking in time to the music. [...] This is the One Step, and this is all there is to it. There are very many figures, but they are in this same strict tempo. It is simply one step—hence its name."

Adèle Collier notes that "there is no sequence of steps in the One-Step, and no hard and fast rule as regards the dancing of the variations given."

Style

The style of One Step is generally described as relaxed walking. Vernon and Irene Castle write, "when I say walk, that is all it is. Do not shuffle, do not bob up and down or trot. Simple walk as softly and smoothly as possible, taking a step to every count of the music."

Adèle Collier writes that "all the steps must be danced very smoothly on the soles of the feet. Great care must be taken to keep all forward and backward steps narrow, that is to say, the heels close together; the steps may be long, but they must not be wide." With regard to body styling, Collier advises to "avoid all exaggerations and contortions. Keep the knees fairly loose, as in walking. Do not put in any extra shoulder movement. If the body is kept in an absolutely natural position, the shoulders will move slightly of their own accord in harmony with the feet."

Arthur Murray's advises to "stand erect and on your toes, with the body slightly forward. Be natural as well as comfortable and not too close to your partner, yet not too far away. At all times, move easily and smoothly; the shoulder must always be on the same level. Avoid any excess motion. Step lightly without shuffling or scraping the floor. Dance on the toes or ball of your foot. Make yourself tall and keep your knees straight."

In "Le Pas du Serpent," it is noted that "in the waltz, the mazurka, and the tango, the steps require a certain knowledge. In the one step, on the contrary, they are natural, for this last dance is none other than the ordinary march. The only difficulty for the beginner is to walk to the beat. [...] Walk softly and elastically, forward, backward, sideways, with knees flexed and lifting the feet as little as possible from the earth."

Historical Descriptions

Le One Step (Arenas, Le Pas du Serpent, 1914, p. 1):


The One Step (Castle, Modern Dancing, 1914, p. 43):



The One-Step (Downes, Modern Dancing Simplified, 1914, p. 18):




The One-Step (Burgess, King's Booklet on Dancing, 1914, p. 4):

The One-Step (Collier, Modern Dancing, 1919, p. 2):

The One Step (Murray, The One Step, 1922, p. 2):



Variations


The Castle Walk

Simply walk, Follow backing, rising on the balls of the feet and swaying the shoulders slightly, "breez[ing] along happily and easily."

N. Georgevitch writes that the Castle Walk, "being a merry dance, should be done with a light expression of face and gay movements; a sour face would scarcely agree with the character of the dance."

Historical Descriptions

The Castle-Walk (Georgevitch, Très Moutarde, 1913, p. 1):



Castle Walk (Castle, Victor Records for Dancing, 1914, p. 5):

Castle Walk (Castle, Three Modern Dances, 1914, p. 5):

The Castle Walk (Castle, Modern Dancing, 1914, p. 47):


The Castle Walk (Newman, Dances of To-Day, 1914, p. 49):





The Castle Walk — The Bicycle Turn

This is best described by the Castle themselves:

To turn a corner you do not turn your partner round, but keep walking her backward in the same direction, leaning over slightly—just enough to make a graceful turn and keep balance well—a little like a bicycle rounding a corner. If you like, instead of walking in a straight line, after you have rounded the corner, you can continue in the same slanting position, which will naturally cause you to go round in a circle. Now continue, and get your circle smaller and smaller until you are walking round almost in one spot, and then straighten up and start off down the room again. It sounds and is silly. That is the explanation of its popularity!

Historical Descriptions

The Castle Walk (Castle, Modern Dancing, 1914, p. 47):




The Castle Walk — The Turns

A rocking turn, Lead rocking forward right and back left to turn right, or forward left and back right to turn left.

Historical Descriptions

The Turns in the Castle Walk (Newman, Dances of To-Day, 1914, p. 52):



The Castle Walk — The Traveling Turns

Dynamic pivots, traveling around the room.

Historical Descriptions

The Traveling Turns (Newman, Dances of To-Day, 1914, p. 53):



The Castle Walk — The Dip

A shallow lunge back on the right foot for the Lead, forward on the left foot for the Follow, bending that leg more than the other.

Done at the end of a turn (see below), or while walking forward.

After the dip (of one count), the Lead begins walking forward again immediately.

Historical Descriptions

The Dip (Newman, Dances of To-Day, 1914, p. 54):




The Castle Walk — The Dip at End of Turn

Five turns (pivots), followed by a dip on count 6.

Historical Descriptions

The Dip at End of Turn (Newman, Dances of To-Day, 1914, p. 56):


The Castle Walk — The Spiral

Castle Walk, spiraling into the center of the room, ending with pivots and a dip.

Historical Descriptions

Castle Walk (Bell, How to Dance the New Dances, 1914, p. 19):



Single Hesitation

For the Lead, forward L, forward R, forward L, back R, then continue walking forward L.

Historical Descriptions

Single Hesitation (Newman, Dances of To-Day, 1914, p. 57):


Double Hesitation with One Foot

For the Lead, forward L, replace R, back L, replace R. Repeat, or continue walking forward L.

Historical Descriptions

Double Hesitation with One Foot (Newman, Dances of To-Day, 1914, p. 57):



Double Hesitation with Both Feet

For the Lead, forward L (1), replace R (2), close L (3), forward R (4), replace L (5), close R (6). Repeat to complete a total of 12 counts before continuing.

Creative Variation: Forward, replace, back, back, replace, forward, i.e., Salsa in even timing.

Historical Descriptions

Double Hesitation with Both Feet (Newman, Dances of To-Day, 1914, p. 58):



Modified Grizzly Bear

Simply a repeated side-close along LOD.

Historical Descriptions

Modified Grizzly Bear (Newman, Dances of To-Day, 1914, p. 59):



Pomander Walk

Step out to right-side Yale Position, and walk forward around each other, clockwise, in place. Then the Lead turns 180° clockwise, shifting the Follow to left-side Yale Position, and continue to walk forward around each other, counterclockwise, in place.

Historical Descriptions

Pomander Walk (Newman, Dances of To-Day, 1914, p. 61):



The Snake

While continuing to walk forward, the Lead shifts back and forth between right-side Yale Position and left-side Yale Position.

This can also be done in Skaters position, both walking forward with the Follow's left hand in the Lead's left hand at her left hip (and her right in his right in front of her), and transitioning to the Lead on the Follow's left side.

Historical Descriptions

The Snake (Newman, Dances of To-Day, 1914, p. 63):


Popular Figures (Bell, How to Dance the New Dances, 1914, p. 18):




The Snake Dip

The Lead steps diagonally forward L (1), crosses R over L (2), then steps diagonally forward left (3), as the Follow steps diagonally back R (1), crosses L behind R (2), then steps diagonally back left (3). Repeat to the other side, then repeat the whole thing, Follow always crossing behind, Lead always crossing in front. Dip down on each of the cross-steps.

Historical Descriptions

The Snake Dip (Newman, Dances of To-Day, 1914, p. 64):



The Picket Fence

Facing out of the hall, turn 45° clockwise and walk diagonally backward toward the center of the circle and along LOD for four counts, then turn 45° counterclockwise and walk diagonally forward toward the outside wall and along LOD for four counts.

Historical Descriptions

The Picket Fence (Newman, Dances of To-Day, 1914, p. 71):



Original Grape Vine Step

For the Lead, side L (1), cross R behind (2), side L (3), cross in front R (4). [Newman version]

This can also be done to the other side, with side steps to the right. [Arenas version]

Historical Descriptions

Original Grape Vine Step (Newman, Dances of To-Day, 1914, p. 73):


Pas Croisés à Droite (Arenas, Le Pas du Serpent, 1914, p. 1):


Dip Grape Vine Step

Same as the Original Grape Vine, but dipping down on count 2.

Historical Descriptions

Dip Grape Vine Step (Newman, Dances of To-Day, 1914, p. 74):



Hesitation Grape Vine Step

For the Lead, side L (1), cross R behind (2), side L (3), replace R (4). Repeat.

Historical Descriptions

Hesitation Grape Vine Step (Newman, Dances of To-Day, 1914, p. 75):



American Crab Step

Similar to the Dip Grape Vine, but dipping down on count 4 in right-side Yale Position.

Historical Descriptions

Hesitation Grape Vine Step (Newman, Dances of To-Day, 1914, p. 76):



Half Fade-Away

For the Lead, side L (1), close R (2), side L (3), close R (4), pivot counterclockwise on the L (5), side R (7), close L (8). Repeat opposite. The timing is 1-2-3-4-5—7-8.

Historical Descriptions

Half Fade-Away (Newman, Dances of To-Day, 1914, p. 77):



English One-Step

Historical Descriptions

English One-Step (Newman, Dances of To-Day, 1914, p. 78):


The Jig-Saw Step or Syncopated Grape Vine Step

Historical Descriptions

The Jig-Saw Step or Syncopated Grape Vine Step (Newman, Dances of To-Day, 1914, p. 79):


The Horse-Trot

Historical Descriptions

The Horse-Trot (Newman, Dances of To-Day, 1914, p. 79):


The Horse-Trot — The Canter

Historical Descriptions

The Canter in the Horse Trot (Newman, Dances of To-Day, 1914, p. 79):



The Horse-Trot — Kangaroo Dip

Historical Descriptions

Kangaroo Dip (Newman, Dances of To-Day, 1914, p. 80):


Chicken Scratch

Historical Descriptions

Chicken Scratch (Newman, Dances of To-Day, 1914, p. 80):


The Lame Duck

For Leads, shorten the length of the right step, and lengthen the left step by the same amount. Follows dance opposite. [Downes' version]

Alternatively, Leads dip down slightly on the right step. [Burgess' version]

Or the Lead's left step is the short one, dipping down slightly, and the right step is the long one. [Bell's version]

Historical Descriptions

The Lame Duck (Downes, Modern Dancing Simplified, 1914, p. 20):

Lame Duck (Burgess, King's Booklet on Dancing, 1914, p. 5):

The Lame Duck (Bell, How to Dance the New Dances, 1914, p. 17):


Step Tap

In Promenade position, step forward with outside feet (1), tap inside feet forward (2), step forward with inside feet (3), tap outside feet forward.

Historical Descriptions

Popular Figures (Bell, How to Dance the New Dances, 1914, p. 17):




Saw Blade

This is the first two counts of a Grapevine Dip (side, dip behind), repeated.

Historical Descriptions

Popular Figures (Bell, How to Dance the New Dances, 1914, p. 18):


The Come-Back

While backing the Follow, the Lead places her right hand in his right behind her back, and rolls her in front of him, then rolls her back into closed position.

Historical Descriptions

Popular Figures (Bell, How to Dance the New Dances, 1914, p. 18):



The Single Cross-Over

Historical Descriptions

The Single Cross-Over (Downes, Modern Dancing Simplified, 1914, p. 20):



The Double Cross-Over

Historical Descriptions

The Double Cross-Over (Downes, Modern Dancing Simplified, 1914, p. 21):



Castle Glide

Historical Descriptions

Castle Glide (Newman, Dances of To-Day, 1914, p. 66):



The Original One-Step

Historical Descriptions

The Original One-Step (Newman, Dances of To-Day, 1914, p. 69):



American One-Step, or Modified Turkey Trot

Historical Descriptions

The Original One-Step (Newman, Dances of To-Day, 1914, p. 70):



Pony Step

Similar to the Castle Walk, but with a slight hop following each step.

Historical Descriptions

Pony Step (Castle, Three Modern Dances, 1914, p. 6):


Fish Walk

Similar to the Pony Trot, but without raising the free foot from the floor during the hops.

Historical Descriptions

Fish Walk (Newman, Dances of To-Day, 1914, p. 66):

Le Pas Du Poisson (Arenas, Le Pas Du Serpent, 1914, p. 1):


The Polka Skip

While walking (Follow backing), insert one full Polka step (Follow backing, à la Pursuit), then continue walking. This can be led with a slight lift just before the start of the Polka (as in the original 19th century descriptions of the Polka).

As a variation, it can be danced in a Zig Zag fashion, diagonally forward to the left and right.

Historical Descriptions

The Polka Skip (Castle, Modern Dancing, 1914, p. 61):


The Polka Skip (Downes, Modern Dancing Simplified, 1914, p. 22):


The Chassé

The early 19th century Galop can also be incorporated into the One Step simply by rotating to the right and chasséing around the room on the first foot. Georgevitch notes that the preference is to get out of these sideways movements by rotating further to the right and backing the Lead.

Most Galop and Polka variations can similarly be incorporated.

Historical Descriptions

The Castle-Walk (Georgevitch, Très Moutarde, 1913, p. 1):



The Step Out

While walking, the Lead steps out to his left side, ending up next to the Follow, right hip to right hip.

Historical Descriptions

The Step Out (Castle, Modern Dancing, 1914, p. 54):






Reverse Dip Step

In right-side position, right hip to right hip, back the Follow for four steps, then back the Lead for four steps, dipping every fourth step.

Historical Descriptions

Reverse Dip Step (Castle, Victor Records for Dancing, 1914, p. 5):

Reverse Dip Step (Castle, Three Modern Dances, 1914, p. 7):


Turning Corners

Historical Descriptions

Turning Corners (Downes, Modern Dancing Simplified, 1914, p. 23):


The Cut Step

For the Lead, walk three steps forward, then close the trailing foot closely behind the leading foot on the fourth count, while the Follow crosses the trailing foot tightly in front.

Creative Variation: The Lead cuts his right foot behind his left as the Follow cuts her left foot in front of her right.

Historical Descriptions

The Cut Step (Murray, The One Step, 1922, p. 6):


The Right Turn

For the Lead, walk two steps forward, then four steps backward, completing a full rotation to the right, then two steps forward. Follow dances opposite.

Creative Variation: Turn to the left, rather than to the right.

Historical Descriptions

The Right Turn (Murray, The One Step, 1922, p. 4):


The Shift Step

For the Lead, step forward (1), diagonally forward toward the outside wall (2), close (3), forward (4). Follow dances opposite.

Creative Variation: Forward, forward, diagonal side-close toward center of room, like a Foxtrot Magic Step in even timing.

Historical Descriptions

The Shift Step (Murray, The One Step, 1922, p. 5):


Get-Over Step

Historical Descriptions

Get-over Step (Castle, Victor Records for Dancing, 1914, p. 5):

Get-Over Step (Castle, Three Modern Dances, 1914, p. 9):


The Eight Step

Promenade three steps, turning 90° clockwise on the third step.

Repeat three times, dancing in the shape of a square.

Note: In his Minuet Tango, Albert Newman notes that you can turn this step more than a quarter on the third step to travel in a straight line. This turns the step into half-turning, LOD-traveling Cross-Step Waltz (starting on count 6), a decade and a half before it was danced as such in waltz timing as the French Valse Boston.

Historical Descriptions

The Eight Step (Castle, Modern Dancing, 1914, p. 51):




The Spin

Historical Descriptions

The Spin (Castle, Modern Dancing, 1914, p. 52):




One Step Cortez

Historical Descriptions

One Step Cortez (Castle, Modern Dancing, 1914, p. 58):


The Outer Edge

Historical Descriptions

The Outer Edge (Castle, Modern Dancing, 1914, p. 58):



Zig Zag

Historical Descriptions

Zig Zag (Castle, Modern Dancing, 1914, p. 59):


The Wind Up

Historical Descriptions

The Wind Up (Castle, Modern Dancing, 1914, p. 61):





Cross Eight Swing

Historical Descriptions

Cross Eight Swing (Castle, Three Modern Dances, 1914, p. 10):


Collier's One-Step

Historical Descriptions

The One-Step (Collier, Modern Dancing, 1919, p. 2):



The Maurice Walk

Historical Descriptions

The Maurice Walk (Mouvet, The Tango and Other Dances, 1919, p. 32):















The Boatswing

The Lead crosses left over right as the Follow crosses right behind left (1), then the Lead backs the Follow two steps (2, 3). Repeat opposite, the Lead crosses right over left as the Follow crosses left behind right.

It is noted that this step rolls or swings in imitation of a boat.

Reconstruction Note: This reconstruction has been adapted to start on the left foot, instead of the right.

Historical Descriptions

The Boatswing (Burgess, King's Booklet on Dancing, 1919, p. 7):


The Aeroplane Walk

Same as the Boatswing, but with open two hands, imitating the flight of an aeroplane.

Historical Descriptions

The Aeroplane Walk (Burgess, King's Booklet on Dancing, 1919, p. 7):


Marcel Wave, or Grapevine

This is a parallel grapevine where you end up in alternating Yale positions (right hip to right hip, or left hip to left hip) on the cross-steps.

The Lead steps side left, crosses right behind left, side left, and crosses right over left.

Reconstruction Note: This reconstruction has been adapted to start on the left foot, instead of the right.

Historical Descriptions

Marcel Wave, or Grapevine (Burgess, King's Booklet on Dancing, 1919, p. 6):


The Scissor

Four steps backing the Follow in Yale position at his right, then four steps of the Marcel Wave.

Reconstruction Note: This reconstruction has been adapted to start on the left foot, instead of the right.

Historical Descriptions

The Scissor (Burgess, King's Booklet on Dancing, 1919, p. 8):


La Bursco

Unclear.

Historical Descriptions

La Bursco (Burgess, King's Booklet on Dancing, 1919, p. 9):


Square Walk

Promenade four steps toward the hands, then promenade four steps toward the elbows. Repeat.

It is noted that any number of steps can be taken between the transitions from promenade to reverse promenade positions.

Historical Descriptions

Square Walk (Burgess, King's Booklet on Dancing, 1919, p. 5):


The Snake

A Follow backing One Step in which the Lead alternates the Follow from one Yale position to the other (i.e., from right hip to right hip to left hip to left hip).

Historical Descriptions

One-Step (Burgess, King's Booklet on Dancing, 1919, p. 4):


Serpent Dance

A Follow backing One Step in which the couple snakes around the room, imitating the movements of a serpent.

Arenas 1914 provides music, "Le Pas Du Serpent," written specifically for this dance.

Historical Descriptions

Le Pas Du Serpent (Arenas, Le Pas Du Serpent, 1914, p. 1):


Backing the Man

Back the Follow, then half pivot on Lead's left foot to back the Lead. Half pivot on Lead's right foot to return to backing the Follow.

Creative Variation: Half pivot on the Lead's right into backing the Lead, and half pivot on the Lead's left into backing the Follow.

Historical Descriptions

One-Step (Burgess, King's Booklet on Dancing, 1919, p. 4):


Music

Here is a list of Victor recordings proposed for the One Step by Vernon and Irene Castle:




"Très Moutarde" by Cecil Macklin is another popular One Step.


© 2015 Nick Enge


For more, see our two books on dancing:
Waltzing: A Manual for Dancing and Living (2013) by Richard Powers and Nick Enge,
and Cross-Step Waltz: A Dancer's Guide (2019) by Richard Powers and Nick & Melissa Enge.


Home     About     Dances     Manuals     Search