General Description

Zwiefacher (zwee-fah-ker, zvee-fah-ker) is a Bavarian folk dance, characterized by its irregular rhythms, combining several different steps in hundreds of different patterns in order to match the music, which alternates between 3/4 and 2/4 time.

Depending on the pattern, zwiefacher calls for stringing together different kinds of footwork: mostly waltz steps and pivots (German: dreher), but occasionally polka and schottische steps.

In some traditions, zwiefacher travels LOD, with each waltz or pivot step turning 180°. In other, older traditions, zwiefacher stays mostly in place, with waltz and pivot steps that rotate on the spot. Both ways of dancing zwiefacher can be satisfying. In either case, be especially careful not to run into other couples, or to get in the way of other couples. Safety is more important than a perfectly danced pattern.

Because it rotates rapidly and changes often, requiring a strong connection, zwiefacher is often danced in barrel hold: both partners holding both shoulders, his arms under hers.

Zwiefacher Patterns

The easiest pattern, known as "Alte Kath," is W2P2, meaning two bars of waltz, then two pivot steps. It sounds like "oom-pah-pah, "oom-pah-pah / oom-pah, oom-pah."

The waltzes happen on the "oom-pah-pah"s and the footfall of the pivots happens on the following "oom" and "oom," i.e., waltz-2-3, waltz-2-3, pivot—, pivot—.

As noted above, there are literally hundreds of other patterns. Here are a few popular ones:

Alte Kath










© 2013-2015 Nick Enge

If you or your community is interested in learning Zwiefacher, .

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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