Sunday, February 5, 2012

Fox Trot

The foxtrot is a smooth progressive dance characterized by long, continuous flowing movements across the dance floor. It is danced to big band (usually vocal) music, and the feeling is one of elegance and sophistication. The dance is similar in its look to waltz, although the rhythm is 4/4 instead of 3/4 time. Dancing the slow foxtrot well takes a high level of technical expertise as well as a lot of dance experience and physical skill. Developed in the 1920's, the foxtrot reached its height of popularity in the 1930's, and is today a favourite of many dedicated dancers.

The exact origin of the name of the dance is unclear, although one theory is that took its name from its popularizer, the vaudeville actor Harry Fox.

Two sources credit African American dancers as the source of the Fox Trot: Vernon Castle himself, and then dance teacher Betty Lee. Castle saw the dance, which "had been danced by negroes, to his personal knowledge, for fifteen years," at "a certain exclusive colored club".

The dance was premiered in 1914, quickly catching the eye of the husband and wife duo Vernon and Irene Castle, who lent the dance its signature grace and style.

At its inception, the foxtrot was originally danced to ragtime. Today, the dance is customarily accompanied by the same big band music to which swing is also danced.

From the late teens through the 1940s, the foxtrot was certainly the most popular fast dance and the vast majority of records issued during these years were foxtrots. The waltz and tango, while popular, never overtook the foxtrot. Even the popularity of the lindy hop in the 1940s did not affect the foxtrot's popularity, since it could be danced to the same records used to accompany the lindy hop.

When rock and roll first emerged in the early 1950s, record companies were uncertain as to what style of dance would be most applicable to the music. Notably, Decca Records initially labeled its rock and roll releases as "foxtrots", most notably "Rock Around the Clock" by Bill Haley and His Comets. Since that recording, by some estimates, went on to sell more than 25 million copies, "Rock Around the Clock" could be considered the biggest-selling "foxtrot" of all time.

Today I listened to Wingy Manone [originally Mannone -] for the first time on Penelope's Sunday radio show [] and while searching for his music on the internet I realized that all his songs were listed as Fox Trot, even the ones that were encouraging the listeners to "swing it", hence the post about foxtrot. Here's Swing, Brother, Swing!

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