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How to Do the Foxtrot

The Foxtrot is a silky smooth dance performed on the ballroom floor. It consists of nicely flowing movements with an emphasis on rising and falling to create a purely elegant dance. There are just four basic steps with an even balance between quick and slow movements. That makes this a fairly easy dance to pick up. Learn how to dance the foxtrot with step by step instructions in Howcast’s free video lessons!

History of the Foxtrot

The foxtrot first appeared in the early 1900s when its creator, Harry Fox, performed vaudeville dance acts at the New York Theatre. Harry’s act was immensely popular and featured him performing trot steps in time with ragtime music. This lead to the name of his iconic dance, the foxtrot.

After Fox made the foxtrot popular, notable dancers like Vernon Castles, G.K. Anderson, and Oscar Duryea began to perform the dance. The dance was difficult to perform without becoming tired, so Duryea replaced the trotting movement with a glide. This new movement created the modern foxtrot style that is so popular today.

How to Dance the Foxtrot

Foxtrot dancing is very easy to learn, but it can be hard to master. It is similar to the waltz, with the key difference being the 4/4 count that is used with the foxtrot (vs the 3/4 with the waltz). You can get to foxtrotting in no time at all if you know how to count and where to position yourself.

Body Position

You and your partner will need to be close to perform this dance. The leader’s left hand should extend out to the left while the follower’s right hand will extend out to meet it. The leader’s right hand will be placed near the follower’s left shoulder blade. The follower’s left hand should rest on the leader’s right arm.


There are four steps to the foxtrot that are performed across six beats of music. The first two steps will be slow while the last two will be quick (Slow x2, Quick x2), which means the speed of the dance will constantly alternate. Slow steps will take two beats while quick steps take just one.

How to Do the Foxtrot Forward Step

While performing the foxtrot, you should take long steps on slow counts and short steps on quick counts. You should also incorporate a falling and rising rhythm, falling on the first two steps and rising on the last two steps. Here’s how you can do the Foxtrot Forward Step:

  • Leader steps forward with the left foot, follower steps backward with the right foot.
  • Leader steps forward with the right foot going past the left foot, follower mirrors by stepping backward with the left foot going past the right foot.
  • Leader steps to the side and slightly forward with the left foot, follower steps to the side and slightly backward with the right foot. 
  • Leader closes by moving the right foot to meet the left foot, follower does the same by moving the left foot to meet the right foot. 
  • Remember to take long and slow steps during the first two steps, followed by quick and short steps on the last two.

Start Foxtrotting!

Hopefully, this guide made learning how to foxtrot easy for you! Explore the videos below for some more advanced Foxtrot lessons, or head over to our main Ballroom Dancing page if you want to check out more fantastic ballroom dance video lessons!

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