What is trad blues?


Trad stands for traditional.

In recent years, interest in blues dance has increased and the term ‘blues dancing’ has become cool. Which is kind of great. It also can lead to confusion if the term blues is used when little or no blues is being taught/danced at events promoting themselves as blues events. Traditional blues honours African American movements; whole-body rhythmic expression and ‘athletic’ posture. If you’re swaying, bolt upright, pressing into your partner, you’re unlikely to be dancing traditional blues. Blues is not Slow Modern Jive. It is not ‘funky’ West Coast Swing. It is not ‘lazy’ Tango. Heck, it isn’t even always ‘slow’ dancing. (cue fast blues clip – Ed)

The best way to know if you’re getting your blues on is to ask yourself these two guiding questions:

  1. Am I dancing to blues music?
  2. Am I rhythmically expressing this (blues) music with my entire body, from an athletically versatile / grounded stance, with my weight committed on one foot at a time?

If either of these don’t apply, you’re not dancing traditional blues. You are most likely dancing Fusion (a mix of two or more styles of dance), slow lindy or slow / smooth modern jive. And that’s cool. We want you to get your groove on the best way you like it! The Basement Blues team teach and enjoy a multitude of dances on any given night. At Basement Blues events, we teach traditional blues and tango fusion on occasion. Our DJs play a high percentage of blues music plus music for west coast swing and tango fusion.


Recent routine with 3 people ‘working it’; rhythmically expressing blues music with whole-body movements and grounded posture. With lots of Sass. Don’t forget the sass.

Styles of blues idiom dance you’ll see in this clip: struttin’, ballroomin and jookin’ and more… From Damon and Heidi.

Competition footage from North Star Blues, Minneapolis (our Vel can be heard whooping encouragement during this one as she was there as part of her second US blues dancing tour of 2015).


One Comment Add yours

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