Slow Two Step
by Harold & Meredith Sears
4 or 6b/m; 16-32m/m
The nightclub or California two step was originated by Buddy Schwimmer, Lee & Linda Wakefield, & Ron Montez during the 1970s in crowded dance clubs on the west coast as a rhythm one could use to the very slow love ballads that are otherwise hard to know what to do with. When you are young and in love, you can clutch and sway to a slow tempo, but such a dance does lack the interest of variety.
But the nightclub two step encourages you to draw out a side step and use up some of the "extra" time that way. Schwimmer taught the dance as a quick rock, recover, and then side, or a cross behind, recover, side. Apparently, Slow Two Step was introduced to round dancing in the early '90s by Bill and Carol Goss, but they presented it as a "slow, quick, quick" rhythm, with the side step done first and the rock/recover second. In 1992, they published a cue sheet for Kiehm's Are You Still Mine, and they wrote their own, Even Now. Jim & Bonnie Bahr released What Am I Living For in 1993.
Most choreography is written as though the timing of the figures is "slow, -, quick, quick;" and if the music is 4/4, that is a good description, but if you have good 6/8 music, it would be better to think of the timing as slow, -, slow. -/&;" but even this representation is approximate. Out of the six beats of music, the first step uses three, the second uses two, and the last is a quick of just one beat.
On the surface, Slow Two Step is similar to Bolero (that initial slow side step). More often than I like to admit, I haven't paid attention to the cuer's introduction, the dance has started, the cue is "basic," and we just try something. But Bolero is usually slower, smoother, a bit sensual. Bolero has conspicuous rise and fall. Slow Two Step is a little faster, sharper, peppier. There is an elastic, push-pull connection between partners. It is up and flat—no rise and fall. And each rhythm has its own characteristic figures. The Half Moon is Bolero, and the Triple Traveler is Slow two Step. However, the dancer does need to remember that round dance choreographers are not the least bit shy about borrowing figures from other rhythms. In a Slow Two Step, you could easily find a New Yorker or Fence Line (maybe even a Half Moon) from Bolero, or a Vine or Wheel from Two Step or even a Bota Fogo from Samba. (I'm looking at the Shibatas' What A Wonderful World, right now.) So, if you don't find one of your Slow Two Step figures in this list, do a site search or check the master index. It might come from another rhythm.