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Two Step Meter
Posted by Bruce Chidester
2/6/2013  9:13:00 AM
I am very new to dancing in that I have only had 4 lessons ever, so please excuse any novice questions or remarks.

In my class we have learned the two-step which is specifically intended for 4/4 music, however I am having great issues with the metering. I also notices there are several "two steps" and variations so please bare with me.

The version I was taught and want to work out is the dance pattern, SSQQ SSQQ.

The meter timing is 1 2 3+ which brings to the issues I am having.

Music metering compared to metering of dance pattern.

Measure: 1 2 3 4
Music: 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4

Notice how on the first measure of the music the dace patter SSQQ is used and quickly becomes a round-robin problem and does not get to the same pattern until measure 4!

I would love to lead each music measure with the same dance pattern. I asked several instructors and many could not answer my questions. The ones that could respond say that the two-step is a non-metered dance, and this is OK....and I accepted this......until I tried to Google two-step and non-metered, and nothing shows up.

Anyone that really knows the answer is out there somewhere. I am an engineer, so the technical details are important to me and your response is greatly appreciated.
Re: Two Step Meter
Posted by nloftofan1
2/7/2013  8:19:00 AM
You don't say what country you are in, but my guess is that you don't live in the United States. In American style Foxtrot, the basic movement's rhythm is SSQQ. As you recognize, that takes 1-1/2 measures, so two of them take three measures. Then you have "caught up" with the music.

In Guy Howard's book "Technique of Ballroom Dancing" (International Dance Teachers' Association, what Americans would call "International"), you meet this rhythm in the back of the book, in the "Social Rhythm" section. There are several patterns with the SSQQ rhythm there.

(At least in the United States) this is not a problem. Only in Tango and Bolero is it important to match the dance figures to the music's structure ("standard" figures usually take eight measures, though some of the elements may overlap measures.
Re: Two Step Meter
Posted by Bruce Chidester
2/7/2013  1:35:00 PM
I am in Texas USA..I do realize that this is a valid pattern, just wondering about the meter and wondering why this info is so hard to find.

Does Guy Howard mention this 3 beat pattern and dancing to a 4 beat song?
Re: Two Step Meter
Posted by socialdancer
2/8/2013  5:31:00 AM
"just wondering about the meter and wondering why this info is so hard to find."

That's probably because for most dancers the idea of meter is just an extra layer of complication that can lead to confusion. Dancers use their rhythm patterns and the musicians use theirs, and if we are lucky we can make them fit together.

"Does Guy Howard mention this 3 beat pattern and dancing to a 4 beat song?"

That's an example of confusion setting in. It is not a 3 beat pattern but a 3 step pattern which uses 6 beats. The Slows use 2 beats each and the Quicks use 1 beat, so the SSQQ pattern uses 2,2,1,1 beats. We dance this pattern to 4/4 music and as you have observed we dance the pattern twice over 3 measures of music. The 2 step and the social rhythm foxtrot mentioned above are slightly unusual in using a 6 beat meter but I would not describe them as non-metered. When you learn more dances and rhythms you will find the dance and music meters match more closely and you will probably feel more comfortable, although there will be some figures that do not fit within a complete number of measures. Try not to worry about it - it's an engineer thing - most people do not notice.

To answer an obvious question: Why don't we dance a 6 beat 2step meter to 6/8 music?

We need to split the 6 beats into 3 groups of 2 for our 2,2,(1,1) but a 6/8 measure of music splits into 2 groups of 3 beats.
Re: Two Step Meter
Posted by Bruce Chidester
2/8/2013  7:37:00 AM
I have come to the similar conclusion that you have pointed out, in that I need to just move to the beat and not worry where the dance pattern matches the music measures. This is a difficult process for me, but I enjoy the challenge. Dance is new and because I play the Bass Guitar I cannot avoid hearing the first beat in every measure and not wonder why my feet are doing something different from the previous measure. I would never imagine playing a different rhythm pattern on my Bass for a measure that did not support the last one, not would dancers want to dance to it.

Thanks for taking the time to explain this point as I find most dancers respond with I don't know, just feel the music, just get in touch with nature, etc.

What I wanted to avoid by asking the question is to verify that the pattern does in fact change from one measure from the next (which it does) and not learn something wrong for years and realize it quite late. Now that I know that this is the way it is, I am going for it.

This seems to be an international board so I will add just a few more things I have learned about the two-step in America (and particular to Houston Texas which is where I am from) which might be interesting. The biggest difference is using SSQQ instead of QQSS for the two-step.


A lot of credit for the country and western craze in Houston should be given to Eddie Lopez.

Eddie Lopez owned the most popular chain of studios in the Houston area called Exclusive Dance Club which is now no longer in business. In its hey-day Exclusive boasted close to 12 different studios and may well known dancers either taught, or learned in these studios; including Joyce Clarkson (of Evenin' Star Boots), Laurie and Larry Sepulvado, Mary Hoedeman, Eddie Griffith, and many many more that I can't think of right now. My wife Carol and I took lessons from Mary H. at an Exclusive studio that was located less than a mile from the Midnight Rodeo (now called the Wild West) in 1983. The two step that is generally seen on the UCWDC circuit today is essentially the same as what was being taught at Exclusive nearly 15 years ago! (Yes, the Sepulvados did much to popularlize this wonderful style of the dance.) I recall watching very early videos of "major" C/W competitions from the late 80's and thinking no one was doing a "real" two step--I wasn't sure what they were doing, but it wasn't "genuine" from my perspective. After all, I'd learned the dance in TEXAS, in HOUSTON, from the motherland of country dancing!

There is a syllabus that has been hammered out with some cooperation between the many studios in the Houston area. This cooperation was an attempt to develop some minimal standards of instruction and content to eliminate the typical conflicts that can arise about who's teaching the real thing. It was an effort that was successful in my opinion; look at competition videos from 1987 and compare them with current performances. What started in Houston is now generally recognized as THE two step.

By the way, in ALL Houston studios, the two step starts with the slow steps (SSQQ) rather than the quick steps (QQSS). In most cases and with most music, this still makes sense and is more than just a relic from the fox-trot. [Dennis Waite]

Re: Two Step Meter
Posted by Voco
2/7/2013  3:58:00 PM
Hi nloftofan1,
He is talking about social style Two Step, probably in the USA. However, I dont understand his question, so I cannot offer any advice.
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