Steps in the Big Apple Dance

by Derek M. Kwait

"The Big Apple" was invented in a club by that name in Charleston, South Carolina in the 1930s and spread to become arguably the 3rd biggest dance craze of all time. Less a set series of dance moves and more a swinging square dance, its ease, flexibility and communal nature doubtlessly contributed greatly to its popularity. While there is no set routine, there are a set of simple, common steps that can be called in any order.

Stomp Off and Spank the Baby

For the "stomp off" step, put one hand up and the other on your stomach. Then stomp your left foot once, drag your feet together two to three times, take four steps and repeat with your right foot for another eight counts. "Spanking the baby" is executed in a similar way to the "stomp off" except with your stomach hand spanking your hip on even numbered counts while you move sideways.

Apple Jacks and Truckin'

"Apple jacks" are steps in which you walk with your toes pointed inward, as if you were pigeon-toed, with your hands pointed down, lifting your shoulders in harmony with your steps as you walk. Hop a step on every eighth beat. "Truckin'" is the name for the classic swing move during which you walk while shaking an upheld finger above your head, making funny faces as you strut around.

Rusty Dusty and Fall off the Log

"Rusty dusty" or "rubber legs" is a knock-kneed dance in which you hold your pants with your index and forefingers, walking forward and then backward eight steps each. To "fall off the log," kick to your side, then kick behind you (or a "hook kick") and then take two steps and repeat in the other direction. Do this for a total of eight steps. When you see yourself doing it, the reason for its name will be obvious.

Charleston and Mess Around

The famous "Charleston" is commonly worked into Big Apple dances. To do the Charleston, step with your left foot, then kick with your right. Next, step or kick your right foot back, then point or kick your left foot back. Each step should take two beats, so the whole step repeats itself every eight beats (in 4/4 time). To do the "mess around," put your hands on your hips and bounce and swing your hips in a circle for eight counts.

Boogie Back and Shorty George

"Boogie back" and "shorty George" are usually done in tandem. "Boogie back" by by doing a kick followed by two steps for counts 1 and 2 and clapping on even numbered counts. Then "shorty George" by kicking and shifting your weight to the balls of your feet, then walking six steps forward on the outside to the inside edges of your feet while moving at a sideways angle.

About the Author

Derek M. Kwait has a Bachelor of Arts in English writing from the University of Pittsburgh and has been writing for most of his life in various capacities. He has worked as a staff writer and videographer for the "Jewish Chronicle of Pittsburgh" and also has training writing fiction, nonfiction, stage-plays and screenplays.

Photo Credits

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