How to Do the Calypso

By Robert Russell ; Updated September 15, 2017
Couples dancing in the street in the Caribbean.

Calypso music is the indigenous music of Trinidad and Tobago. The first recording of a Calypso song was by Lovey’s Orchestra in 1912. Calypso music and dance, like other forms of Caribbean music, is a blend of West African musical rhythms and European music. The Calypso is associated with the French Carnival tradition in Trinidad.

Essential Characteristics: All in the Hips

The essence of the calypso is hip-rolling and thrusting movements. Calypso dancing shares this in common with other Caribbean dances such as salsa, meringue, soca and compass. The continuous hip movements make calypso dancing a popular part of Zumba workouts.

Dance Instructions

Calypso dancing is not set in stone. It leaves lots of room for personal interpretation and dance moves. The foundation of the dance is simple leg and feet movements, a rocking motion, and swiveling hips. Cross your right foot over your left foot and rock in place. Step towards the right with your right foot, and follow with the left. Do the same move but in the opposite direction. Cross the left foot over the right foot.

Thinking About Time

Calypso music is in 2/4 time rather than 4/4 time that is the common time signature for many types of contemporary dance. Calypso dance movements are based on a two-beat count rather than a four beat count. This produces a more faster, more energetic dance style.

About the Author

Robert Russell began writing online professionally in 2010. He holds a Ph.D. in philosophy and is currently working on a book project exploring the relationship between art, entertainment and culture. He is the guitar player for the nationally touring cajun/zydeco band Creole Stomp. Russell travels with his laptop and writes many of his articles on the road between gigs.