Boogie Woogie is a swing dance that is danced in couples. It is both a social dance and a competition sport. In either case, there are a few basic characteristics of the dance:

  • Improvisation and interpretation
  • Leading and following
  • Footwork
  • Improvisation and interpretation

    Many other dances are choreographed. That means that the dancers have prepared a sequence of steps and figures that they dance to the music. A choreography is often made to fit perfectly with one particular piece of music. In Boogie Woogie however, there are no choreographies. That means that the dancers improvise their own dance spontaneously on the dance floor.

    You might imagine that dancers without a choreography would do random and usynchronized movements, but this is not the case. One of the things that makes Boogie Woogie exciting to dance and watch is that the dancers have developed their music listening skills in order to interpret the music together. Good Boogie Woogie couples are therefore capable of dancing almost-as-good-as-a-choreography – to almost any kind of music – and also music they have not heard before!

    Leading and following

    In a choreography both the man and the lady know what comes next, so in principle a couple could dance without leading (except for steps and figures that requires the physical connection). In Boogie Woogie, the man’s leading and the lady’s following is the “communication channel” that makes improvisation possible. Good Boogie Woogie dancers have excellent leading and following skills.

    As mentioned before, the Boogie Woogie dancers can interpret almost any music. The leading and following skills also makes it possible to dance and interpret any music – with any partner! On social dances you can often see two people that have not met before dancing fabulously to music they have not heard before. This makes Boogie Woogie inherently a social dance.


    All swing dances have a set of steps that are called “basic steps”. These steps are repeated through most of the dance, and make the pulse and “groove” in the dance. Boogie Woogie have many different basic steps, and they all have in common that each repetition uses 6 beats in the music. One thing that separates Boogie Woogie from other swing dances is that the basic steps often are fast, fancy and dynamic, while the upper body at the same time is calmer and more controlled. Good Boogie Woogie dancers are able to mix different steps perfectly to very fast music.

    An article about Boogie Woogie on Wikipedia