Why You Should Dance The Paso Doble!

Paso Doble might not be a dance you immediately think of when you think of Ballroom dance. You might not even be aware it is a Ballroom dance, or perhaps you only think of it as “that dramatic bullfighting one”. While that is not incorrect, you may not see the many reasons you should invest some time in learning about this dance.

Paso Doble translates to “double step” in Spanish. It is based heavily upon Spanish bullfighting, but the dance itself originates from France. The upper classes at the time were enamored with the romance and drama of bullfighting, and sought to emulate it as a partner dance.

The leader’s role is always that of the conquering matador. The follower’s role acts in response to the leader — sometimes she is the cape, the bull, a flower, or the woman he is performing for.

The dance is more structured than many other Ballroom dances. It is a performance, meant to evoke emotion and tell a story. Paso Doble hinges upon strong body posture and frame, for forceful, sharp movements and gestures. The steps are reminiscent of military parading.

By far, the most common song used for Paso Doble is “Espana Cani”. The music for this dance is very distinctive, and is specific to the Paso Doble. It is a genre all on its own.

Due to the design of the song and the story you and your partner are telling together, it has a more choreographed setup than most other dances. Though it can still be danced socially, both partners need to be aware of the highlights, or “crashes”. There are three distinct highlights in the song, so leaders need strong musical awareness to ensure they match the story to the song.

Not many dancers do the Paso Doble, so knowing it can make you unique. Because of its inherent choreography, it makes a fantastic show piece, and a strong dance to show judges at any events you attend. It is a great way to develop confidence and character on the dance floor, because who doesn’t want to stab their partner sometimes?

Dances of the Roarin’ Twenties

The 1920s were an era known for its dramatic attitude — wild, carefree, extravagant, and a party all night long. Prohibition couldn’t stop the speakeasies or debauchery, dance halls featured dance marathons lasting days (or weeks!), and the public didn’t want the party to stop. And what’s a party without dancing?

Many dances were popular in the 1920s. Some are still known and beloved today, whereas others have faded into history books. Dancing was the social activity, among all ages and all walks of life. Pre-war dances such as the Waltz and the Tango remained popular, and new dances came into the spotlight, boosted in popularity by Broadway shows and movies (and yes, even a man by the name of Arthur Murray).

The Foxtrot first became popular in the 1920s. Since it had gotten introduced barely prior the war, it wasn’t seen as old-fashioned. But there was a lot of confusion over what exactly the Foxtrot was — many types of music and dancing were marketed as Foxtrot, hoping to ride on its coattails, including a style called the One-Step that remained popular throughout the decade.

Out of this strange Foxtrot divide came a bouncier version, initially called the Toddle. The Toddle in turn became what is known now as the Peabody: even bouncier, and even more popular at dance halls and parties.

The Charleston was another dance craze of the 20s, popularized by the song “The Charleston” by James P. Johnson. It was first used in the Broadway musical Runnin’ Wild, and spread like wildfire to the dance halls across the country.

Dances come and go no matter the era. Some dance fads have real staying power, like Foxtrot and Peabody. Others, like the Turkey Trot, fade out after their time in the spotlight. Some dances evolve into other types, or perhaps some steps live on in other styles. Next time you’re watching Quickstep, look out for some Charleston flavor.