Swing Dancing/Charleston

Side-by-side 8-count Charleston


8 beats: (for lead, mirrored for follow)

Basic Step


Basic structure: (1)rock; (2)step; (3)kick; (4)step; (5,6,7)double-kick forward-then-back; (8)step

This dance should be performed with the lead and follow close and side-by-side, with the lead's arm around the follow's waist.

1. rock back with left foot (while raising right foot off the ground slightly)

2. step down with right foot

3. kick forward with left foot

4. step down with left foot

5. kick forward with right foot

6. retract right foot (but still keep in air)

7. kick back with right foot

8. step down with right foot


It is often helpful to hop on each beat, as it becomes easier to keep count.

The outside hand for both the lead and follow should be counter to the position of the outside foot.

Kick-back Charleston


This is the same as the Charleston, except there is more distance, the lead's left hand is holding the follow's right hand, and the lead's right hand is on the follow's close hip. It starts on beat 5 of the standard Charleston.

(from POV of lead)

1. kick forward with right foot

2. lead pushes on follow's close hip and both turn (clockwise for lead) towards each other

3. lead continues spinning and kicks forward (what was previously backward) with right foot

4. step down with right foot

5. kick forward (previously backward) with left foot

6. spin counterclockwise and face each other

7. continue spinning and kick forward with left foot, lead puts hand on close waist again

8. put left foot down


Charleston Variations


There are a vast collection of possible variations on side-by-side Charleston. As such, on social dance floors, it is not uncommon to see a lead and a follow performing different variations of footwork, yet still gracefully performing the Charleston. So long as the lead is returning to the same position each eight counts and the movement of the follow by the lead doesn't vary from the style of basic Charleston, any combination of variations can be performed by the lead or the follow.

Lindy Charleston


Basic Idea: Incorporating the look and feel of Lindy Hop into the Charleston structure

Footwork: (1,2)Rock step; (3,4)triple step forward; (5)swivel into your partner; (6)swivel away from your partner; (7,8)triple step backwards

Leg Holds


Basic Idea: Pausing your leg after a kick and holding, then a quick triple step so you can rock step again.

Footwork: (1,2)Rock step; (3,4)kick step; (5)forward kick; (6)hold; (7,8)triple step



Basic Idea: Expansion on the Leg Holds but instead of holding, slap your foot against the floor then drag it back in place of the triple step.

Footwork: (1,2)Rock step; (3,4)kick step; (5,6)stomp-and-stomp; (7,8)drag

Turn Kicks


Footwork: (1,2)Rock step; (3,4)kick step; (5,6)forward kick and turn 180°; (7,8)forward kick and turn 180°

Tandem Charleston


Typically performed with the lead behind the follow, with both lead and follow using the basic footwork of the side-by-side Charleston. The lead holds their hands out and slightly forward, palms up, allowing the follow to place their hands on the lead's. The hands make small circles, reaching the forward or back portion of the circle opposite to the leg that is kicking (so on the left rock step back, the left hand is forward.)

Closed Position to Tandem Charleston - 10-count Entry


The beginning is similar to a tuck turn, after which things get interesting quickly.

Starting from closed position, each beat is as follows:

1. Lead rocks back with left foot, opening follow slightly

2. Lead steps with right foot, sending follow forward in front of lead and providing compression with left hand.

3. Lead kicks forward with left foot, turning follow clockwise under lead's left hand.

4. Lead steps with left foot, finishing turn and ending in open position.

5. Lead turns 180 degrees away from follow, kicking forward (now away from follow) with right foot. Let left hand trail behind, leading follow in a rock step.

6. Lead steps with right foot.

7. Lead kicks forward with left foot, bringing follow emphatically forward. A variation at this point would be to provide enough impetus that the follow catches some air.

8. Lead steps forward with left foot.

9. Lead kicks with right foot, turning 180 degrees while moving follow's hand from lead's left hand to right hand. This has the effect of leading the follow in a "J" turn.

10. Lead steps with right foot.

11. From here, you're all set for basic tandem charleston beginning with left rock step. You should be facing the same direction as the closed position at the beginning.