What Is Blues Dancing?


That’s a pretty good question right? You may be wondering how you can dance to it, what does it look like, where did it come from? You probably know blues music, but there’s a rich dance history attached with the music as well.

Blues or “blues-idiom” dancing is a collection of dances and movements that grew out of the African-American / Black community and were danced to blues music. As blues music can trace it’s origins to the American South, these dances follow the same lineage. Various styles grew depending on the area one grew up in and matched the music that predominately played in a region.


Blues dance may have different variations, but the look and feel of the dance has a few distinct characteristics:

  • Dancers were grounded in their movements and displayed an athletic posture, which was very relaxed and effortless.
  • They exhibited a pulse based on the music through their bodies and steps. Could  maintain multiple rhythms within their body (poly-rhythms).
  • Dancers would constantly be behind the beat or “lag” to varying degrees. This created a tension or push/pull between partners and the music.
  • They would keep asymmetric shapes and lines, with energy being centered in different parts of the body.
  • High level of improvisation between dancers and the music

Blues Dance Nashville exists to preserve many of these dances and pass them on to the next generation. Through our classes and dances, we want to connect Nashville to the national movement and present the history of blues music and dance in our city.

Check out our class entitled What Is Blues Dancing? for an informative look at the dance and it’s history.

Below are a few great examples of different blues styles:





This is not an exhaustive list by any means, so we’ve included links to a few stellar websites and resources at the end where you can learn more.

Descriptions on the various styles http://www.dirtcheapblues.com/blues-dance.html

Damon Stone, International Blues Instructor and historian http://damonstone.dance/

Mike “The Girl” Legenthal, International Blues Instructor, runs a personal blog that covers great topics regarding the scene http://www.mikethegirl.com/

Great resource to connect with the national blues scene http://bluesdanceworld.com/