The One Step is perhaps the fundamental dance of the Ragtime era.

It is, quite simply, two people in ballroom position taking One Step per beat of the music.

Everything else is just a variation. Sometimes the tempo of the music is either too fast or too slow for a One Step, at which point you shift over to Fox Trot.

For the most part, you can select one item each from hold, style, step and rhythm to make an almost limitless variety of moves that can be lead and followed. Some combinations work better than others.

Please keep in mind that, as in any description of social dancing the names of the steps are somewhat arbitrary, and there are always people using different names for a particular step and different steps for a particular name. Nobody is wrong here. It's just that all of this was danced first and talked about second. That's what makes it social dance


By hold I refer to the way the two people are connected to each other. The hold is the only part that can really be seen in a still picture; everything else really needs video.

The ballroom position used in the One Step tends to have the lead's right hand in the center of the follow's back, for maximum flexibility in leading. The follow's left hand lies decoratively, on the lead's shoulder. The other hands are palm to palm and up and out. It seems that the majority of people danced it with a lot of swaying side to side, and pumping of the arms, because all the dance manuals say don't do that.

There are many variations on hold available, such as


By style I means anything that can't be classified as a hold, rhythm or step. The basic style is a calm but cheerful walking step. The Castle Walk changes that to have stiff legs, pointed toes, with longer and smoother strides. All in all a more elegant dance. Other styles include


By rhythm, I mean the tempo of your footfalls. There are those who say that in One Step there is only one rhythm, which is one step per beat; anything else makes it another dance, probably a Fox Trot. Others assert that it can still be One Step, even if your feet are doing :


By step I mean where you put your feet when you step. Combinations of forwards and backwards and sideways. This list should be both the longest and the most incomplete. The basic step is just plain walking where each step takes both people a little farther along line of direction. Mixed with a bunch of different holds and styles, this alone can make a complex and enjoyable dance.

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