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In Step Dance offers something new to Pagosa

Quickstep is a ballroom dance that not many folks have heard of.

Unless you watch Dancing With The Stars on ABC, you probably don’t have an inkling what it even looks like.

Well, be assured, we will not be learning the elaborate choreographed style of Quickstep you see on TV. But, on the first and third Sunday of April, you will be introduced to Quickstep in preparation for our “Spring Fling” workshop with Arthur Murray National Champions Bob and Cindy Long.

Surprisingly, Quickstep can be danced to a variety of music. In the 1850s the dance was originated as a march to songs like “Strike Up The Band,” and was mainly used to celebrate presidents, military regiment exhibition, heroes, etc. It was sometimes used as a type of propaganda and morale music with the patriotic marches of the day.

By the turn of the century, Foxtrot emerged in the forefront, with Peabody on the side. In the 1920s, songs like “Puttin’ On The Ritz” and “Alexander’s Rag Time Band” combined it with Charleston and the dance became known as the Fast Foxtrot. However, when the Fast Foxtrot slowed down in music tempo, the faster version became the Quick-Time Foxtrot or just Quickstep. The first version of this was supposedly done by Frank Ford and Molly Spain at the Star Dance Championships in 1927. The One Step, The March, The Peabody, Black Bottom, Charleston and Fast Foxtrot merged to make the Quickstep of today

Ballroom Quickstep has swung through the ’40s with Big Band tunes such as “Take The A-Train” and “Jitterbug.” The ’50s gave it a slightly different slant with songs like “As Long As I’m Singing” by Bobby Darin, and “Sugartime.” The Quickstep can even be danced to a remake of the Beatles’ “Mrs. Robinson” or “Octopus’ Garden” from the ’60s. How about trying on “Star Wars Cantina Band” and fly through the ’70s. “Lullaby of Broadway,” “Blue Skies” or “Billie-A-Dick” by Bette Midler moves us into more modern tunes suitable for the dance. More contemporary music lists “Snowbird,” “Shall We Dance” and “Monsters, Inc.” as favorites. How about Hip Hop? Now there’s a thought for some innovation….

In Step’s Latin class chosen for April will be Beginning to Intermediate Cha Cha, and will also be considered a prep class for the Longs, who will divide their April 21 workshop into two options: Beginning Quickstep and Intermediate to Advanced Cha Cha.

Hustle will fill the swing dance slot on Sundays. This will be a beginner to intermediate class, depending on the level of attendees. You would be surprised at the number of songs one can Hustle to during one of Pagosa’s dances. Local DJs always play a wide assortment of disco music, especially towards the end of a social dance gathering. This music seems to bring the party animal out in us, and the Hustle is a great way to express this attitude. It was the Hustle, danced in discotheques equipped with colored lights and mirror balls, to this style of music that brought partner dancing back into vogue in the ’70s. Stay tuned for more interesting history about the Hustle in my next article.

The Country Western dance of April will be CW 3-Step. This is the dance that solves the problem of having to move the feet too fast when country two-step music speeds up a little too much. It’s triple-step, walk footwork makes dancing counterclockwise around the room much more manageable than the slow, slow, quick, quick pace of traditional 2-Step. Most of the patterns you already know in 2-Step can be transferred to the 3-Step with just learning new footwork but we will explore some moves designed specifically for 3-Stepping as well.

Noting that there will be no classes on Easter Sunday (April 8), here is the April schedule in a nutshell. On Sundays, April 1, 15, 22 and 29: Introduction to Quickstep starts at 2 p.m., Beginning to Intermediate Cha Cha at 3, Beginning to Intermediate Hustle at 4, and Country Western 3-Step starts at 5.

All classes take place upstairs in room 3F at 450 Lewis St. downtown Pagosa. You do not need a partner, and anyone 16 or older may attend. The donation is only $5 per person, per class, which covers studio rent and provides bottled water and refreshments. Classes do start on time, so please come a few minutes early to register and get ready to dance. Wear comfortable clothing and shoes that have smooth or suede leather soles and do not leave black marks or mud.

For more information, call Deb at 731- 3338, and keep watch in subsequent weeks for more details on the upcoming Spring Fling Workshop.

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