Dancing the Blues Shaugran John Joven

Blues dancing evolved in response to slower blues music. West Coast Swing is danced to Blues of a faster rhythm.

Blues music is generically referred to as slow dance music. Blues music is quite popular and many couples dance a slow, close informal shuffle when they hear the music in a restaurant or bar.

Blues dancing attempts to interpret the mood of the music and is therefore open to creativity. Many Blues dancers who also dance various types of Swing and Lindy incorporate Swing moves into Blues dancing.

Blues can also incorporate moves from Zouklove, Argentine Tango and Nuevo Tango.


Blues music started to enter the mainstream of North American consciousness around the turn of the twentieth century. There have been attempts to bring Blues dancing into the mainstream of dancing as well. In the nineteen twenties, Blues was tested as a ballroom dance, but the effort did not succeed and Blues gave way to slow Foxtrot - a dance that could be formalized and taught in dance schools.

Today, the younger Lindy Hop crowd have taken to Blues dancing when the music slows down, modernising the dance in the process. Given the extent to which Blues music is available, it is only a matter of time before the dance is rediscovered by the mainstream of social dancers.

Interpretive Movements in Blues Dancing

If the music is slow and languid, Blues can be danced in close embrace as in the Tango, or using slow Swing walks that end in an extended whip or close dance hold.

Faster Blues lends itself to quicker moves and turns.

When dancing in close hold or in shadow position (where the man is behind the woman), the close embrace and a gently swaying of the hips gives Blues dancing a characteristic sensual appearance.

Dance Embrace / Hold

The dance hold in Blues can change frequently from open to close hold. When in close hold, the dancers usually adopt the hand hold used in Swing - where the man's left and woman's right hands seldom rise above waist height. The closer the hold, the lower the hands.

Dance Space

Blues is a spot dance that is danced in the space available. Since many Blues dancers are familiar with the slot in West Coast Swing, the steps can be adapted to dancing in a slot.


There are various types of blues music: slow, smooth, soulful, rural, urban, up-tempo, electric, gutbucket, delta, modern, just to name a few - all with very different nuances and emotions.

This list of Blues music was found at It contains a number of songs that would not be considered as traditional Blues music, but which the author nevertheless feels can be included as Blues dance music.

A Kiss To Build a Dream On (Louis Armstrong)
A Thousand Kisses (Leonard Cohen)
Angel Eyes (Julie London)
At the Strip (Swingerhead)
Baby It's Cold Outside (Ella Fitzgerald)
Back O' Town Blues (Jools Holland & Friends)
Back O' Town Blues - Van Morrison
Banana Split for My Baby (Louis Prima)
Big Spender (Shirley Bassey)
Blue Moon (Julie London)
Blues in the Night (Julie London)
Boy from Ipanema (Julie London)
Boy From Ipanema (Peggy Lee)
California Dreamin' (Bobby Womack)
Call Me Irresponsible (Dinah Washington)
Cat Daddy (Steve Mitchell)
Catch a Falling Star (Perry Como)
Chan Chan (Buena Vista Social Club)
Chicago (Tony Bennett)
Dancing Cheek to Cheek (Ella Fitzgerald & Louise Armstrong)
Dat Dere (Oscar Brown Jnr)
Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend (Julie London)
Diamonds are Forever (Shirley Bassey)
Dilemma Ft Kelly Rowland (Nelly)
Don't Get Around Much Any More (Etta James)
Don't Get Around Much Anymore (Natalie Cole)
Don't Get Around Much Anymore (Tony Bennett)
Don't Know Why (Norah Jones)
Don't Smoke in Bed (Julie London)
Downtown Train (Tom Waits)
Dream a Little Dream (Ella Fitzgerald)
Early in the Morning (unknown)
Embraceable you (Charlie Parker)
Fever (Peggy Lee)
Friday the 13th (Royal Crown Revue)
Girl From Ipanema (Al Jarreau)
Hot in Here (Nelly)
I Ain't Got Nobody (Leon Redbone)
I Just Wanna Make Love To You (Etta James)
If it Ain't One Thing (Easy Baby)
I'm Like a Bird (Nelly Futado)
It Had To Be You (Dinah Shore)
It's Nice to Go Trav'ling (Frank Sinatra)
I've Got You Under My Skin (Ella Fitzgerald)
I've Put a Spell on You (Jools Holland with Mica Paris)
Just a Gigolo (Louis Prima)
Lady with the Big Cigar (Swingerhead)
Let Them Talk (Lillian Boutte)
Let's Get Away from It All (Frank Sinatra)
Love Letters (Julie London)
Memories Are Made of This (Dean Martin)
Minnie the Moocher (Blues Brothers)
Mr Bojangles (Robbie Williams)
My Baby Just Cares For Me (Nina Simone)
My Discarded Men (Eartha Kitt)
My Funny Valentine (Chet Baker)
My Love Is (Little Willie John)
Nature Boy (Nat King Cole)
Nobody But Me (Lou Rawls)
Obsession Confession (Slash)
On the Street Where You Live (Nat King Cole)
Peel Me a Grape (Diana Kraal)
Perhaps Perhaps Perhaps (Doris Day)
Pink Panther Theme (Henry Mancini)
Rendezvous (Swingerhead)
Save Me (Aimee Mann)
September in the Rain (Julie London).
Shiny Stockings (Dee Dee Bridgewater)
Shiny Stockings (Ella Fitzgerald / Count Basie)
Slip Into Something More Comfortable (Kinobe)
Smoke Gets in Your Eyes (Platters)
Son of a Preacher Man (Dusty Springfirld)
Stand by Me (Drifters)
Stand By Me (Ben E King)
Straight to Number One (Touch n Go)
Strangers in the Night (Peggy Lee)
Take the L-Train (Brooklyn Funk Essentials)
Tango In Harlem (Touch n Go)
That Ole Devil Called Love (Ella Fitzgerald)
The Best is Yet To Come (Nancy Wilson)
The Mooche (Royal Crown Revue)
The Mooche (Sidney Bechet)
The Nearness of You (Norah Jones)
The Time of My Life (Bill Medley & Jennifer Warnes)
The Way You Look Tonight (Tony Bennett)
These Are the Days (George Michael & Lisa Stansfield)
They Can't Take That Away From Me (Diana Krall)
This Business of Love (Domino)
Time After Time (Mark Williams & Tara Morice).
Turn me On (Norah Jones).
Under the Boardwalk (The Drifters)
Vem Vet (Lisa Ekdahl)
Wade in the Water (Eva Cassidy)
Warm December (Julie London).
We Have All the Time in the World (Louise Armstrong)
What the World Needs Now Is Love (Jackie de Shannon)
You're Nobody Till Somebody Loves You (Dean Martin)
You're the Boss (Brian Setzer Orchestra)

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