How to Dance the Charleston

How to Dance the Charleston. The 1920s Charleston dance is so quick and busy that people thought it was only for professional dancers when it first emerged. But the "roaring twenties" flappers had it down in no time. The following steps will help you grasp the ragtime jazz rhythm of the Charleston.

Get to Stepping

Find a 4/4 beat, ragtime jazz music selection. "Charleston," "Ain't She Sweet" and "I Wanna be Loved by You" are just a few. You can find whole collections dedicated to the Charleston online.

Start with the basic Charleston dance step, the kick. This is the basis for the rest of the dance, so get this down well before you move on.

Step back with your right foot.

Kick back with your left foot.

Step forward with your left foot. You should be right back where you started.

Kick forward with your right foot.


Add Arms

Get those arms moving. Swing your left arm forward and your right arm back when you begin the kick step. You are swinging your arms opposite of your feet-just like you would naturally if you were walking, but exaggerate the motion, and swing them high.

Switch it up with alternative arm movements. Holding your arms straight out in front of you, bend you elbows so that your arms are at a 90- degree angle.

Swing your forearms in a circle, towards the right, then towards the left.

Partner the arm moves with the kick step, and you are dancing the Charleston.


  • When you get a bit more confident, try criss-crossing your hands over your knees while moving your knees in and out-sort of like an old-fashioned version of the "tootsie roll" dance.

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