Foxtrot’s Start in Southern California – A Brief History
While social dance is very popular in Southern California, most may not know that Foxtrot beginning’s stemmed out of Pomona, California. Wait, what? The Foxtrot is from Los Angeles?! Well, not quite; but the dance’s instigator Harry Fox was. Born Arthur Carringford in 1882, this Pomona native was given the stage name of “Fox” after his grandfather.
At the age of 15, Fox was pushed to support himself and joined a circus for a short tour. For a brief time he also played professional baseball. Fox’s career developed further in San Francisco when a music publisher hired Fox to sing songs from the boxes of vaudeville theaters. In 1904 he appeared in a comedy titled “Mr. Frisky of Frisco” in a Belvedere Theatre. After San Francisco’s 1906 earthquake, Fox moved Eastward and landed in New York.
As Fox was getting his bearings on the East Coast, ragtime was born in 1910 and embraced across the United States. The dance was very different from previously popular and smoother ballroom waltz styles. Ragtime included partners dancing in a closer hold and improvising within the dances. Playful moves such as the kangaroo hop and turkey trop characterized this new dance style.
In 1914, Fox took the stage with his company of “American Beauties” in a New York theatre. Their dancing act was featured in between shows at the world’s largest movie house. One of their dancing acts included Henry trotting to ragtime music. It is believed that audiences tried to emulate Henry’s style of dance and called it “Fox’s trot.” On the top of this New York Theatre, the foxtrot gained momentum in the Jarin de Danse, which hosted a nightly revue.
When the dance migrated to Britain, ballroom experts smoothed the scampers, hops, and kicks out of Fox’s trot. This smoother version of the dance is much like the Foxtrot that is practiced today. Overtime, the foxtrot split into quick and slow versions known as the “quickstep” and “foxtrot.” In the slower “foxtrot” version of the dance, International and American styles have distinguished the dance even further. It’s used socially and popularly within ballroom dance competitions.
Whichever style you practice, it’s pretty amazing to think that the Foxtrot developed over 100 years ago! Next time you hit the dance floor, think of Harry’s journey, the birth of ragtime, and the planet’s dance evolution!
A Brief History of Foxtrot was brought to you by dance teacher, Ziva.