Line Dance Steps

Since line-dancing is a choreographed style of dance, you are following a sequence of steps that have been conceived by the choreographer.  As line-dances became more complex, the drawn out diagrams disappeared and were replaced with “step sheets”.  To make it easier to create a dance sheet for a dance, choreographers and line-dancers have come up with names for short sequences of steps – thus instead of saying “step to the side, cross behind, step to the side, step together”, one merely says “vine”. While this makes it so much easier, to design and teach a dance, line-dancing is now full of names for step sequences that a beginner needs to learn or will be completely clueless when first learning to line-dance.

Therefore, when you start in a beginner class it is the task of the instructor not only to teach you dances and to boost your confidence, but just as importantly, to also teach you at the very least the basic step sequences.  As the class improves, the teacher will increasingly just use the step description. Very rarely an instructor will teach a particular step sequence by itself – back when I first started I remember my then instructor getting the whole class in a circle and then practicing shuffles, around and around and around, until we’d gotten it right. Remembering the named step sequences is actually more important than trying to learn a particular dance – while dances come into popularity and then vanish into oblivion, the step sequences never change.  Progressing from novice to beginner to intermediate and finally to advanced is really a matter of learning more and increasingly complex step sequences and putting them together.   

Some step sequences are syncopated, others are not. A non-syncopated step sequence is when each step in the sequence is done on successive beats of the music. Syncopation is where you do two steps in the one beat. In the table below I have used the symbol “&” to denote a syncopated step. The simplest of the syncopated step sequences is the shuffle which is three steps in two beats.

I have marked the line dance steps beginner terms  with an (*). The other steps and terms will come as you progress.

Step Sequence / Term
Accent * Emphasis on a particular step or move.
Across * Used to describe the movement of one foot in front of another. [Also: Over]
 Ankle Rock   With feet crossed and ankles locked rock weight onto forward foot. Return weight to back foot. [Also called Ankle Roll]
 Applejack   Feet are positioned slightly apart with weight on the heel of one foot and the ball of the other foot; swivel toe and heel respectively out to make a “V” and then return to the center position. Eg: Left Applejack – Taking weight onto left heel and right toe swivel left toe and right heel to left side. Return feet to center. [Also known as Fancy Feet and Swiggle. Often done in pairs. See also Traveling Applejacks]
 Arabesque   The free leg is extended backwards, forwards or to the side, parallel to the floor. ie: an exaggerated touch.
 Arc   Swing nominated foot in a semi circle from front to back. [Similar to a Rondé, but done over one beat]
 Back Cross * The nominated foot crosses and touches behind the other foot.
 Balance Step * A step in any direction followed by a close step and a hold. [Mostly used in waltzes]
 Ball Change  * Step onto the ball of one foot (on & count), step and/or change weight onto the other foot. [Often accompanied by a previous step, eg: kick-ball-change]
 Behind  * A step with the free foot crossing behind the weighted foot.
 Body Roll   Performed forward, backwards or sideways, body rolls are a ripple of the body either up or down over a specified number of counts.
 Boogie   Step back turning slightly in nominated direction.
 Boogie Roll   A circular movement starting in the pelvis region, moving through the diaphragm, chest and shoulders.
 Boogie Walk   To move the free leg by lifting the hip and stepping forward with a circular movement. [Alternatively: Step lead foot forward & swiveling to lead side on balls of feet]
 Box Step  * A sequence of steps forming a box shape on floor usually done over 8 beats. Normally leads forward or to the side. Count 8 is sometimes replaced with a touch, scuff or a hold. 
 BPM  * Beats per minute.
 Break   A change in direction.
 Broadway Kick   Kick nominated foot across opposite foot at 45°.
 Brush  * A brush uses the ball of foot to brush the floor as the foot swings forward or back.
 Bump  * Bump hips to the side. [Bumps (or hip bumps) may be done to the beat or they may be syncopated]
 Buttermilk  * see Heel Splits
 Camel Step   Step nominated foot 45° forward or back, drag/step other foot to close together. 
 Camel Walk   Step designated foot forward or back. Slide other foot together. Step designated foot forward or back. ]May be done to the diagonal]
 Cha-cha  * Three steps in place, done to two beats of the music. [Similiar to a shuffle, however it is done on the spot. Technically a cha-cha involves a Cuban hip movement whilst a shuffle is smooth, but generally a cha-cha is stationary whilst a shuffle travels]
 Chainé   A 360 degree turn, starting & ending with feet together and changing weight with each step.
 Charleston  * Step forward, kick the other foot forward, step back (with the foot you kicked), touch the original foot back. [May be accompanied by heel swivels between steps. Also known as a Montana Kick]
 Charleston Kick  * Same as a Charleston except the order is Kick, together, touch, together.
 Chassé  * A syncopated pattern of side steps where the feet never pass. Normally three steps but can be extended. [A 2-beat chasse is known as a Shuffle]
 Close  *  Step together (ie: “Close right” means step right foot beside the left).
 Coaster Step  * Step the designated foot back, step the other foot beside the first (on &), step the designated foot forward. [A coaster may be done forward, in which case it is called a “forward coaster”. Unless specified, a coaster is always “back” 
 Conga  * A vine with a full turn ending with a touch together.  
 Contra  * Two dance lines facing one another and dancing between partner in the line facing you.
 Corkscrew Turn   Cross one foot over the other. With weight on balls of both feet make a 3/4 or full turn, first unwinding (ie: turn in the opposite direction of whichever foot is crossed – if the left foot is crossed over the right, turn right) and continuing the turn so that the legs are crossed in the opposite position at the end of the turn (ie: if initially the left leg is crossed over the right, the turn ends with the right crossed over the left). Upon completion of a full Corkscrew turn, the trailing foot is usually lifted off the floor slightly. [Similar to an Unwind Turn. Usually a 2 count movement, but the turn itself may be done over 2 or more counts]
 Corner Turn   Eg: Step left foot forward, step right foot to right turning 90° left, step left foot back turning 90° left, step right foot forward.
 Corté  * see Dip
 Crab Step   Step lead foot diagonally forward, slide opposite foot up to lead & twist heel of opposite foot in, twist toe of opposite foot in, twist heel of opposite foot out.
 Cross  * The free foot crosses in front of  (Across, over) or behind (behind) the opposite foot.
 Cross Samba   Cross lead foot over other foot, step the other foot slightly to the side (on &), step lead foot together. 
 Cross Shuffle  * A side Shuffle where the first step is in the opposite direction from the lead foot and crosses over or behind the over foot. The last step similarly crosses over or behind. Eg: Cross right foot over the left, step the left foot slightly to the left side (on &), cross the right foot in front of or behind the left foot. [Also known as a Gallop, Cross-Side-Behind, Behind-Side-Cross, etc. The dance sheet should specify which way you cross – ie: over or behind]
 Cuban Motion   Hip motion initiated by using the inside edge and ball of the foot during weight transfer. Achieved by bending and straightening the knee before and after the step. The knee of the moving leg bends inwards.
 Curtsy   An exaggerated Back Cross where the nominated foot is stretched while crossing behind and the knee of the leg taking the weight is bent.
 Diagonal  * 45 degrees out from the center of the Line of Dance (direction).
 Dig  * To touch the ball or heel of the free foot to the floor with a strong emphasis.
 Dip  * A slight bend of the support knee to a sitting position with the free leg extended forward. [Also called a Corté]
 Dorothy Click   With weight on the toes of both feet, quickly swivel heels out and back together with a click.
 Dorothy Step   Step lead foot forward to the diagonal, lock other foot behind lead foot, step lead foot forward to the diagonal (on &). 
Double Foot Boogie   A 4 beat toe-heel pattern of swivels. With weight on heels, swivel toes out, with weight on toes swivel heels out. Swivel heels in, toes in. [Reverse of a Double Heel Split]
 Double Heel-split   With weight on the toes: move heels apart, change weight to the heels, move toes apart. Reverse steps to bring feet together to original position. [Also called Double Buttermilk]
 Drag   see Slide. [Also known as Draw]
 Duck Walk   With knees bent, step lead foot diagonally forward and swivel heel of opposite foot to opposite side. [Usually done several at a time. Also called Swivel Step]
 Fan  * Toe-fan: with feet together, turn toes of nominated foot out 90 degrees (pivoting on the heel) & return.  Heel-fan: same thing but the heel swings out, pivoting on the ball of the foot.
 Fan Brush  * see Sweep
 Fan Kick   High, straight leg kick where the extended leg makes a circular sweep.
 Fancy Feet   see Apple Jack
 Flare   Keeping heel on the floor move toe out to the side and then back in.
 Flea Hop   A sideways skip or scoot in the direction of the free leg, usually with a hip movement.
 Flick  * The heel flicks back or out to the side with the toe pointed and the knee slightly bent.
 Foot Boogie    Keeping one foot in place & stationary, swivel the toe of the non-weighted foot out, the heel of the other foot out, then swivel first the heel then toe of the non-weighted foot back to the center.
Gallop    see Cross Shuffle
 Grapevine  *  Originally a 4 step sequence: “side, cross behind, side, cross in front”. Now used variously for a 3 step sequence followed by a touch, step together, kick, stomp, scuff etc (ie: a Vine) an extended vine of 6 or 8 counts (or more) is called a Weave
 Grind   Moving nominated foot/heel in a 90° arc. [See also Heel Grind]
 Grind Walk   see Heel Twist
 Heel-ball-change   Touch heel of lead foot forward, step ball of lead foot back to place, step other foot in place.
 Heel-ball-cross   Touch heel of lead foot forward, step ball of lead foot back to place, cross other foot in front of lead foot.
 Heel Bounce  * With weight on balls of feet lift and drop heels. [Also called Heel Raises]
 Heel Clicks   Raise onto balls of feet and clicking heels together. [May be syncopated: &1]
 Heel Fan   see Fan
 Heel Grind   Rock forward on designated heel arcing toe out to side. Return weight back onto other foot. [See also Grind]
 Heel Jack  * Step foot diagonally back. Touch other heel diagonally forward. Step beside first foot. Touch/step lead foot together. (The first step is syncopated)
 Heel Pivot  * Normally on the spot, pivoting the nominated foot from the forward together position through a 90° arc and back together.
 Heel Splits  * With weight on both toes & feet together, turn both heels out to opposite sides, then back again. [Also known as a Buttermilk, Heel Spreads, Pigeon-Toes May be syncopated: &1]
 Heel Stomp  * Raise the heels of both feet off the floor by bending at the knees and then return heels to the floor.
 Heel Strut  * Step heel of foot in nominated direction, drop toes to the floor. [Also known as a strut or a heel-toe strut. May be syncopated. Struts may be done forwards, back, to the side or crossing over or behind]
 Heel Switches    Touch lead heel forward. Step lead foot beside other foot. Repeat with other foot.
 Heel Swivels  * With feet together & weight on the balls of both feet, swivel both heels to the same side and then back to the center.
 Heel Turn   Touch the lead heel forward, turn in the opposite direction of the lead foot with the weight on the heel and drag the ball of the other foot together as you turn. [This is basically a “Step, Pivot Turn” using the heel of the lead foot rather than the foot itself]
 Heel Twist   Touch lead heel forward & across the other foot with the toe of the lead foot pointing across eg: the toes of the right foot would point left). Keeping weight on the heel of the lead foot, twist the toes to the side of the lead foot (eg: to the right if the right is the lead foot) & at the same time step the other foot to the side. [Also called Grind Walk, Susie Q]
 Hinge Turn   On the ball of the lead foot turn 180° in the opposite direction stepping the other foot to the side (count 1), slide the lead foot together (count 2).
 Hip Bumps  * Step lead foot forward or back & bump hips in the same direction. Continue bumping hips as specified. [May be syncopated. May not involve a step]
 Hip Roll  * The movement of the hips in a circular action either clockwise or anti-clockwise.
Hitch  * Hitch the knee up with weight on the opposite foot.
 Hold  * Hold your position for the specified counts of music before taking another step.
 Home  * Position of the feet directly under the body. The original starting place. [Also known as Center]
 Hook  * Touch heal out for one count, bring up to cross over knee for count two, bring back out to previous position for three and touch together for four.  [Also known as Heel Hook]
 Hop   A jump on the spot of one foot and landing on same foot.
 Jazz Box  * Eg: Left – Cross left over right. Step back on right. Step left to left side. Close right beside left. [Often done with a 1/4 turn. ] Also known as a Reggae Step
 Jump   To spring into air on both feet and land on both feet.
Jumping Jacks   A jump landing feet apart, then returning to center.] Often syncopated and some times returning to a crossed position]
 Kick-ball-change * Kick lead foot forward, step ball of lead foot back to place, step other foot in place.
 Kick-ball-cross * Kick lead foot forward, step ball of lead foot back to place, cross other foot in front of lead foot.
Kick * Self explanatory. May be done in any direction.
 Knee Pops   A sequence of moves pushing the non-weighted knee forward, lifting the heel off floor with the ball of the foot remaining in contact with floor (the knee is often pushed across in front of the opposite leg). Straighten knee & drop the heel. [Often done in pairs. May by syncopated (&1)]
 Leap   A transfer of weight from one foot to the other by pushing off with a spring into the air & landing on the ball of the other foot, the heel dropping to absord the shock.
 Lock-step  * The designated foot crossed closely in front or behind the other foot. [Often done as part of a step sequence, eg: a lock-shuffle, a lock-vine or a “step, lock”]
 LOD  * Line Of Direction/Dance. The direction in which the dance is normally flowing.
Lunge   The transfer of weight to a bent leg with free leg extended.
 Mambo  * Step lead foot forward, rock onto opposite foot, step lead foot back.
 Mark Time   To step in place two or more times.
 Military Turn  * Step foot forward, make 1/8, 1/4 or 1/2 pivot turn.  [Also known as a “Step, Pivot turn“]
 Monterey Turn  * It may be 1/4, 3/4 or full. Eg: Right Monterey turn – reverse directions for a left: Touch toes of right foot to the right side, keeping weight on the left foot (count 1). Turn 1/2 turn right and step right foot next to left taking the weight onto right foot (count 2). Touch left toes to left side (count 3). Step left foot beside right with weight on the left foot (count 4).
 Over  * Crossing one foot over the other.
Paddle Turn * A turn either left or right, using a series of ball changes with the weight staying over the turning foot.
Pigeon Toed   A pattern traveling sideways bringing the toes together leaving the heels apart, then bringing the heels together leaving the toes apart.
Pirouette   A complete turn on one foot. [See also Spin]
Pivot * A turn where one foot is forward of the other and the turn is made on the balls of the feet changing weight. Feet do not leave floor. [See also Reverse Pivot Turn]
Pivot turn * Step foot forward, make 1/8, 1/4 or 1/2 pivot turn.  [Also known as a “Step, Pivot turn“]
Pivot turn & Step * Step lead foot forward, with weight entirely on lead foot (or even lifting other foot off floor) make a 1/2 pivot turn, step other foot forward. [Typically done in waltzes. May be syncopated, 1&2. Some choreographers choreograph standard “step, pivot turns” in this way]
Point * Point the toe in the designated direction.
Polka * see Shuffle
Popcorn * Roll lead knee in a semi circle to the side while keeping balls of feet in place. Then roll lead knee in a semi circle back to the center.
Pony Tracks   Step lead foot forward, step ball of opposite foot beside lead foot (on &), step lead foot in place.
Push Step   A ball-step change pattern moving to the side, forward or back.
Ramble   To travel right or left twisting heels then toes (or vice versa).
Restart * When the dance is restarted in the middle of a sequence of the dance on one or more of the walls in order to keep the phrasing of the dance in sync with that of the music. [An alternative to adding a tag to the dance]
Reverse Pivot Turn * Touch designated foot behind and turn 180° in the direction of designated foot.
 Rondo   Sweep the nominated toe in a half-circle from the front to the back.
 Rumba  * Step lead foot forward (or back), rock weight onto opposite foot (on &), step lead foot beside opposite. [Also called a Mambo-Rock]
 Rock Step  * Step forward, side or back and change weight from one foot to the other without changing position. This is done with the knees slightly bent.
 Rock Recover  * Rock onto the lead foot in the designated direction and then step onto the other foot, transferring weight. 
 Rocking Chair  * A series of 4 rocks. Eg: Right Rocking Chair: Rock/step forward on left. Rock back onto right. Rock/step back on left. Rock forward onto right. [May be done backwards.]
 Rodeo Kick  * A double kick, the first forward, the 2nd to the side.
 Rolling Full Turn  * A vine with a 3/4 or full turn. Eg: Left: Step left 1/4 turn left. On ball of left make 1/2 turn left stepping back right. On ball of right make 1/4 turn left stepping left to left side.
 Rondé   The unweighted leg moves from one leg position to another in a circular movement with a straight knee. The extended foot never reaches a height higher than the knee. [See also Arc]
 Sailor Step  * Eg: Left Sailor: Cross left behind right. Step right to right side. Step left to place. [Also known as Sailor Shuffle, Sailor or Cross-Ball-Change]
 Samba   Step lead foot to the side, rock onto opposite foot, cross lead foot over opposite foot. [Also known as a Side Samba. See also Mambo]
 Scissor Kick   Kick one leg up, then the other so that you have both feet off the floor at the same time, landing on one foot then the other.
 Scissor Step  * Eg: Rock out with right change weight count one, change weight back to left count 2, cross right over left count 3 hold on count 4.  Also can do with left foot rock.
 Scuff  * Move the specified foot by gently sliding the ball of the foot across the floor.
 Shimmy  * Rapid, alternate shoulder movement. As left shoulder moves forward, the right shoulder moves back. [Done in time to the beat or syncopated]
 Shuffle  * Three steps in any direction done to two beats of the music. Step the designated foot in the designated direction, step the other foot beside the first (on the & count) and then step the first foot in the same direction again. [Also known as a Chasse, when done to the side, or a Polka Step or Promenade. May be done with a 1/4 or 1/2 turn]
 Side Saddle   A side-ways Toe Strut. See Toe Strut
 Side Samba  * See Samba.
 Skate  * Slide nominated foot forward at 45°, slide other foot together. A skate may also be only the first slide.
 Slap  * Use of the hand to slap heel or knee.
 Slide  * With the weight on one foot, drag or slide the other foot up to the weighted foot. Usually done to either 1, 2 or 3 beats.
 Spin  * A full or 3/4 turn executed on the ball of one foot over one beat of music. [See also Pirouette]
Spiral Turn   Step lead foot forward, make a full pivot turn in the opposite direction ending with the weight on the lead foot and the other leg crossed over (in front). [Alternatively can end by stepping the opposite foot forward as you complete the turn. Also called a Spiral Pivot Turn]
Spot   A step in place that does not progress in any direction.
Spotting   Focusing on a fixed point through a turn.
Squiggle   To walk your foot to the side in a toe, heel, toe motion.
 Step  * The word used to indicate a movement of a foot with change of weight.
 Stride   A larger than normal step.
 Stomp  * Stomp the foot on the floor to make a loud sound. Weight usually remains on the other foot.
 Stroll  * Step lead foot forward. Cross other foot behind. Step lead foot forward.[Basically a non-syncopated lock-shuffle. Often done to the diagonal]
 Strut  * see Toe Strut and Heel Strut
 Sugarfoot   Touch lead toe to instep of other foot. Touch heel of lead foot to instep of other foot.
 Sugarfoot Swivel   The alternate swiveling of one foot in the direction of the unweighted foot while the unweighted foot topuches the toe then the heel. Eg: Left: Swivel left heel to right side while touching right toe to left instep. Swivel left to right side while touching right heel to left instep.
 Susie Q   see Heel Twist
 Sweep  * To arc pointed toe out and around from front to back or back to front. Can sometime be executed with a turn. [Usually one beat, but may be 2]
 Swiggle   see Apple Jack
 Switch   Return one foot together with a hop while at the same time putting the opposite foot out. [See also Heel Switches]
 Swivel   A movement of heels or toes while weight is on opposite part of foot. Eg: Left Swivel: Taking weight onto left heel and right toe swivel both toes to left. Return feet to centre. [Basically a double Twist. May be syncopated (&1). 
 Swivet   Twist the heel of one foot and the ball of the other foot to the side (the feet remain parallel), then twist back to the center. Eg: Right: On the ball of left foot and the heel of right foot, swivel left heel to the left and right toes to the right. Then return. [During the swivet your heel and toes should be moved at approximately a 45 degree angle. Also called Bronco Twist]
 Swivettes   An extended Swivel. Eg: Left: With weight on the balls of your feet, swivel both heels left, swivel heels to the center, swivel both heels right, swivel heels to the center.
 Tag  * A added in group of steps added in the dance at a specific wall to stay in sync with that of the music. [An alternative to adding a restart to the dance]
 Tap  *  see Touch
 Toe Fan  *  see Fan
 Toe Strut  * Step toe in nominated direction, drop heel to the floor. [May be done in any direction or crossing over the other foot. Also known as a Strut or a Toe-heel Strut]
 Together  * To bring the feet together with a change of weight.
 Touch  * To tap toe or heel in nominated direction without any weight placed upon it.
 Traveling Applejacks   A pattern traveling sideways bringing the toes together & leaving the heels apart, then bringing the heels together & leaving the toes apart. Weight is on one toe and the opposite heel, then reversed to result in sideways traveling. [See also Applejacks]
 Traveling Buttermilk   Heels out, toes out, toes in, heels in.
 Triple Step  * see Shuffle. [May be done with 1/4, 1/2, 3/4 or full turn]
 Twinkle  * Cross lead foot over opposite foot, step opposite foot slightly to the side,
step lead foot beside opposite. [Also known as a Cross Waltz Step]
 Twist  *  With weight on balls of feet, heels move freely in given direction.
 Two step   A six count rhythm which uses counts 1 and 2 as quick steps, then counts 3, 4 and 5, 6 as two slow counts.
 Unwind Turn   Cross the lead foot in front of the other foot. With weight the other foot make a 1/4, 1/2 or 3/4 or “unwind” turn (ie: turn in the opposite direction of whichever foot is crossed – if the left foot is crossed over the right, turn right). [Weight ends on either foot, as specified in the particular dance. If the turn is 3/4 or full and ends with the legs again crossed, it is known as a Corkscrew Turn. The unwind may take one or more beats]
 Vanilla  * Dancing a dance exactly the way it was written with no variations and with all the tags and restarts the choreographer wrote into the dance.  When competing you normally will have to dance the dance vanilla for the first 4 walls before you start “stylizing”.
Vaudeville   Eg: Left: Step diagonally back left on left. Cross right over left. Step diagonally back left on left & turn body diagonally to the right. Touch right heel diagonally forward to the right.
Vaudeville Hop   Eg: Left: Step ball of left foot behind right foot (on &). Cross right over the left.
Step left to the left (on &). Touch right heel to the right.
Vine   Four steps done in any one direction. Eg: step nominated foot to the side, cross the other foot behind, step nominated foot to the side, step other foot together. Note that this is the basic vine – in many cases (at any level) a vine may have the 4th step replaced with a touch, scuff or hitch. Vines also often incorporate full or partial turns. [Also see “weave“]
Wall * Each direction you will face with a dance.  Dances can be one, two or four wall dances.
Waltz * Step the nominated foot forward or back, step the other foot together, step the nominated foot in place.
Waltz & Hook Turn   Step lead foot forward, make 1/2 turn in direction of lead foot & step opposite foot back, step lead foot together.
Weave * Six or more steps done in any one direction. Eg: step nominated foot to the side, cross the other foot in front, step nominated foot to the side, step other foot behind and so on. Note that this is the basic weave – in many cases (at any level) a vine may have the 6th+ step replaced with a touch, scuff or hitch. Weaves also often incorporate full or partial turns. [Also see “vine“]