Tuesday, November 27, 2007


The Sailor Step or Sailor Shuffle is one of the basic components often used in the choreography of many line dances. Line dancers know it and execute it well. Yet I've also had difficulty getting beginners to 'step' it properly. Most times, they end up doing a back rock and a step to the side.

The Sailor Step involves three foot movements. It is usually done as a Triple Step, i.e., 3 steps in 2 beats. The count would usually be 1&2 or 2&3 and so on. Sometimes, it can also be done slow, each step taking one beat each.

The most important part in executing the Sailor Step, I believe, is in the second step, on the & count. For example, if we begin the Sailor Step with the Left foot (which will step behind the Right), the next step should be to move the Right foot to the Right side in order to make a Ball Change from that position. Most times, the dancer does not take the Right foot to the Right side but replaces it in the same position after the Left has crossed behind, making it look like a Back Cross Rock.

Explaining it in words would further confuse the matter. Since 'A picture paints a thousand words', I have put in two short clips which I hope, would clear up what I'm trying to put forward here.

The first clip shows a Ball-change which is required in executing the Sailor Step.

And the second, the Sailor Step itself.

The legs you see and the voice you hear in these clips belong to Jo Thompson; a very popular, highly-respected and well-loved line dance instructor.

I hope you find the clips helpful.

Let's do the Sailor Shuffle!


Anonymous said...

Oh, thank goodness! This is a great demo of the Sailor Step. I took a line dance class this week, and the teacher (normally very good) just called out the Sailor Step at one point as if we all knew it. I asked him to demonstrate it, and it looked just like a step-ball-change to me. Thanks for your demo! It makes sense now.

ML said...

I'm glad I was able to help. Thanks & credit must go to Jo Thompson (the teacher in the videos) who explains it so clearly.

Anonymous said...

I squeezed in a class in which all students knew the dances. First class was tough. I didn't want to give up so I turned to internet for help. I learned Sailor Step from your wonderful demo just before my second class. When the instructor called out Sailor Step during one dance, I was so happy I could follow everyone with no problem.

Thank you so much.

more demo please!

Unknown said...

Hi Mei Ling,
just finished checking out your blog from Sydney and noticed that your beautiful child has grown a little bigger.Will be joining one l/d lesson with Julie Talbot.Hope Agnes and i can catch up with the Aussie dancers.Tell u when i see u.So okiedokie for now.
Happy dancin'
Jerry Low