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Nightclub Two-Step For Beginners

Nightclub two-step tutorial

Nightclub Two-Step is one of the simpler dances of the ballroom styles and is commonly used as a wedding dance. In fact, most first dances that I have choreographed have been Nightclub Two Steps! This dance is elegant and romantic and a great one to learn. That said, I’m super excited to share some insight into this dance and hope it inspires you to learn more!

Below is a look into what I will be covering in this post:

· History and Characteristics
· Musical Information
· The Basic Step
· Dancing with a Partner

Husband spinning his wife during their Wedding dance

History and Characteristics

Nightclub Two Step was created in the mid-1960s by the great Buddy Schwimmer to fill a void in the dance scene where no other ballroom dance fit. Buddy was born into a family of dancers, so naturally, he learned to dance at a young age. While out dancing, he noticed that people didn’t really know what type of dance to do when slow love ballads would play, so he decided to make up a dance that people could do to this genre of music. Thus, Nightclub Two-Step was born! Because slow songs can be very challenging to dance to, he made it easier by giving it a syncopated rhythm of 1& 2, 3& 4. (I’ll go more into the detail of this timing later.)

Unlike the other ballroom dances, this dance does not require any rigid technique, but dancers will use slight sway on the side steps to enhance the romantic feeling of the dance and its main characteristic is the rock step followed by a side step. Although this dance can travel, it is primarily a spot dance and can be done using little space.

Musical Information

As mentioned earlier, Nightclub Two Step is danced to slow love ballads. Typically, these songs fall under two genres: soft contemporary rock and country songs. The tempo ranges anywhere from 16-22 MPM.

Check out this Nightclub Two Step playlist for a better idea of the music and tempo: https://music.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLTN8Ct1Ys3yEWa6oqi2ywkU8wjVmervSS

In dance, we count in 8’s to complete one phrase of music, so the basic rhythm of this dance is counted, 1&2, 3&4, 5&6, 7&8. The “&” count symbolizes a half-beat of music; therefore, the beat value is ½ ½ 1. This is the syncopated rhythm I mentioned earlier in the history section. Another common way to count this dance is in quicks and slows, which would be QQS, QQS – The Q being ½ a beat and the S a full beat. Next, we begin dancing!

Dancing the Basic

For the most part, Nightclub Two Step is a simple dance (at least in the beginning). It does not require a rigid technique, but there are some technical tips that I will share to help make your Nightclub look and feel elegant. First, let’s begin with learning the Basic. There are two different ways you can begin the Basic Step, and in this post, I will teach you to begin with the rock step. Below I have the Basic broken down for leaders and followers.

Leaders: Beginning with your left foot, step behind your right foot on count 1, replace your weight forward to your right foot on count &, then step to the side with your left foot on count 2. Now, repeat on the other side – back rock step with your right foot on counts 3 &, then to the side with your right foot on count 4.

Followers: You will be dancing the natural opposite of the leader. Begin by stepping back with your right foot on count 1, replace your weight forward onto your left foot on count &, then step to the side with your right foot on count 2. Next, repeat the same to the other side – Back rock step with your left foot on counts 3 &, then to the side with your left foot on count 4.

Technical Tips

There are some general principles in dancing, and one is that you need to keep your feet in contact with the floor. In Nightclub Two Step, all your steps will be taken with the ball of your foot and roll through to the heel. However, when dancing the rock step, it’s important that you shift your weight back onto the ball of the foot while being careful not to lower your heel. This is because if you send your weight too far back, you will end up either too far from your partner, or you will pull them with you. Either way, it’s not very graceful. Lastly, to add an extra touch to your Nightclub, make sure to use slight sway on the side steps. This movement adds to the romantic feel of the dance, helps you to change direction quickly, and goes well with the music.

Dancing with a Partner

For the final touch, you need to try this out with a partner! Nightclub Two Step has more of a relaxed hold and is a hybrid between a ballroom and rhythm frame. To get into Closed Position, partners should be slightly offset to the left from each other so that your right toes are pointing in between your partners’ feet and standing a little less than a foot away. The leader will place the right hand on the follower’s left shoulder blade and the follower will respond by lightly placing their left arm on the leader’s right arm with the hand resting nicely on the lead’s upper arm or shoulder. The leader and follower will then lightly clasp their free hand together and hold it up at about the follower’s eye level. Be sure to always keep the arms lifted and toned with elbows held in front of the body throughout the dance to help with proper leading and following.

Now that you know how to hold your partner, it’s time to dance! Click on the link below to see a video of us dancing the Nightclub Two-Step Basic in Closed Position:

In closing, I hope that this post was helpful, and you feel inspired to learn more! If you haven’t taken lessons before, I encourage you to call your local studio and begin today!


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