American Waltz – History

By | January 15, 2017

In this series of posts I will be covering the history, basic figure and social information for all the Ballroom and Latin dances we teach.

The American Waltz is also known as the American Slow Waltz or Boston Waltz. Since this version of the waltz was introduced in Boston in the early 19th century it is sometimes referred to this original name. The main difference between the American and Viennese Waltz is the tempo at which each is danced. The American Waltz is danced between 84 and 90 beats per minute (BPM) while the Viennese Waltz is danced between 162 and 174 BPM. The slower tempo of the American Waltz allows for more styling when dancing the various figures.

Over time two styles of Waltz evolved, the American Smooth and International Standard. The American smooth is characterized by open work outside of closed position like under arm turns and side by side dancing of the couple. The International Standard remains in closed frame at all times with a heavy concentration on footwork versus the open figures of the American Smooth style.

Country dancing includes a version of the American Waltz where couples dance in a continuous side by side promenade position. This is a remnant of the earlier style of waltz from the 19th century which frowned on the closed position of the waltz which in some venues was considered immoral not to mention impolite to make the lady dance backwards.


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