Harry Fox, a vaudeville dancer and comedian lent his name to the Foxtrot dance step. Fox was believed to be the first to use the “slow step,” hence, the birth of the Foxtrot. This first freestyle use of the “slow step” came into vogue around 1912, during the period of ragtime music. This marked a completely new phase of ballroom dancing where partners danced much closer together and ad-libbed to the new and exhilarating music. Prior to this period, the Polka, Waltz and the One-Step were popular. In these dances partners were held at arm’s length and a set pattern was observed.
By 1915, another change took place — new and melodic “pop” songs were being written; tunes like, “Oh, You Beautiful Doll” and “Ida” were the smash hits of the day. The public was quick to appreciate the change to a smoother, more rhythmic style of music, and their dancing began to absorb the better attributes of the older dances. From 1917 up to the present time, the accent has been placed on smoother dancing and individualized expression. By 1960, the international style of dancing was making its way into the U.S. ballrooms and many of the techniques were implemented into the American style Foxtrot. As of this writing, the main difference between the two styles is that the international style Foxtrot is danced entirely in contact maintaining the normal dance hold, while the American style allows for complete freedom of expression utilizing various dance holds and positions.
With its smooth and sophisticated feeling, most figures are designed for the larger ballroom floor. However, these same figures are also suited to the average dance floor when danced more compactly.