Rockabilly Dance Steps

by Shannon Lee
Learn the rockabilly dance style by mastering a few key steps.

Learn the rockabilly dance style by mastering a few key steps.

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The rockabilly dance style is an iconic feature of American culture. While the style has origins in the 1950s, many dancers still enjoy it today. With its fast movements and upbeat music, rockabilly dancing is not only an exciting form of entertainment, but an energetic form of exercise.

American Spin

The American Spin is the single most important element of rockabilly dancing, because it is the step that starts and/or finishes every dance or combination. It is a relatively simple turn, but must be mastered before moving onto more difficult steps. To perform the American Spin, the male partner holds the female partner's left hand while she spins counter-clockwise, before taking a step to spin clockwise and return to face her partner. The direction of each spin is very important.


In rockabilly dance, jiving refers to the actual dancing that takes place between specific rockabilly steps. Jiving looks very similar to swing dance, except that in swing dance nearly every single step is choreographed, while rockabilly dance steps are not. Jiving is a form of lively free motion that incorporates many hops and twists while including some specific rockabilly steps. It is important to be extremely comfortable with jiving, because it makes up the foundation of rockabilly dance.


An important step that will undoubtedly repeat itself over and over in any rockabilly dance combination or choreography is blocking. While it is primarily the role of the male to block, females must understand the step as well. Because rockabilly features so many sharp and fast turns, learning to use the blocking step to prevent one's partner from over-turning is essential for the timing and rhythm of a rockabilly dance. Blocking gives every rockabilly dance a sense of control and sharpness.

Quadruple Turn

The Quadruple Turn is second only to the American Spin as the most important spin-step in rockabilly dance, because it gives some flash and flare to a rockabilly routine. While in the American Spin only the female partner spins, the Quadruple Turn features both partners turning. To perform it, the female partner spins clockwise and then counter-clockwise, followed by the male partner turning clockwise and then the female partner turning clockwise again.

About the Author

Shannon Lee began her professional journalism career in 2009. Her reporting has appeared in "The Hudson Gazette" and her editing work in the "Redwood County Newspaper." Lee is also a professional dancer and owns one of the largest dance studios in her region. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts with a double-major in communication studies and journalism.

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