Something About the Origin, Characteristics, and Form of the Boston-reasons Why it Has Changed so Noticeably-the Easiest Way to Learn-the Correct, Original Step-some Variations and Hints on Dancing the Boston
Like the two-step, the Boston is purely an
Fig. I. First step. The pupil takes a small slide forward with left. Both steps are taken obliquely vival of the calk-walk. The Boston owes its existence to the valse; considered broadly, it is merely a charming variation of the valse.
It originated in the city of Boston, hence the name, and was danced to valse music, in strict time, in the form of a star. For that reason, a single repetition of the six steps did not form a circle; it was only after finishing five or six complete series of steps, that the dancers described a circle. Naturally, this elongated movement carried them much further along the floor than an ordinary valse circle. Each step fitted into one beat of the music; but the Americans again demonstrated their partiality for emphasising the second step, by giving a long dip and accent on that beat, as in their two-step.
The Boston was universally danced in the States soon after Bostonians first invented it; and was known as the star Boston, or two-boston, because of the shape and the long second step. Variations did not creep in for many years in America; but the star was gradually dropped. The step remained the same as in the original invention, but became longer, and, if possible, smoother. The original method necessitated practically straight backward and forward progression; but by degrees the steps were taken at a more acute angle, and so the star was eliminated. Finally, one series of six steps, with accents on two and five, completed the circle, as in the valse.
Before we ever saw the Boston it was very much danced in Paris. There it was popularised by various smart Americans about seven years ago (1904), and finally reached England about a year later (1905). On its first appearance, we were taught both the star, or two-boston, and the subsequent development, in circles. The latter we accepted as the genuine Boston-which it certainly was-and the few remaining dancers in this country who are still able to Boston correctly perform that same step. We call it the three-boston, as it has three steps for each foot; and is sometimes counted in three instead of six. This is done in order to achieve the long, dipping step on two.
We also danced the two-boston, among many so-called improvements and innovations; and that is merely a two-step step danced to valse music. The steps never fit into the rhythm, and their monotonous right
Fig. 2. Second step. The pupil slides forward with her left outside the foot of her partner, who slides backwards with the sequence is only varied by sudden "runs" or "rushes" into the corners of ballrooms. As we valse to two-step tunes, and call the result the two-step valse, we are equally broad-minded, and two-step to valse music. The unpleasing result is known on this side of the Atlantic as the two-boston, though it has no relationship to the original dance of that name. In America no dance is called a Boston that has the slightest connection with the two-step; every American Boston is some form of the valse.
Fig. 3. Third step. The pupil draws her right foot forward to her left; her partner, the left foot back to the right
Before going further, it may be wise to explain that the Boston referred to in this article is the original Boston as it came to us from the States, via Paris. It has nothing to do with the many stupid innovations prevalent nowadays (1911), which are, indeed, the sole inventions of various individual dancers, and have no connection with genuine Bostons.
The American Boston presented so many difficulties to English dancers that they would not take the trouble to learn the correct steps. Seeing the new dance, and gathering that it was a mixture of the valse, with many characteristics of the two-step-long second steps, and smooth, flat-footed motion-they invented a mongrel dance of their own, and called it the Boston. Nowadays a discerning observer could pick out fifty or more couples at any dance, all doing something different.
It is no exaggeration to state that in England there are hundreds of so-called Bostons being performed nightly. Each district, town, and set has its own form of that dance; and teachers are driven to despair. Their only hope is to teach children the correct step, before they have time to realise that in this country Bostoners have become a law unto themselves. Children can seldom elaborate or improve on their own account. So if they are carefully taught, we may in time get back to the original Boston. The only course, therefore, in writing an article is to describe the dance as it was, and should be.
It is not necessary to stand exactly hip-to-hip in this dance; but it is wiser for the lady not to stand too squarely in front of her partner. The whole foot is kept on the floor; the long, dipping effect being obtained by bending the knee of the leg which is not moving.
The easiest way to teach a child the Boston is to stand by her side and make her do the step straight down the room. Insist on the long step coming upon beats two and five, occasionally making the pupil take sliding steps straight forward with alternate feet, as if running. These steps-which must be perfectly smooth-correspond to the "running" steps in the Boston. The " run " is concluded by drawing the feet together; the pupil always restarting the Boston step with her right foot.
The step may then be attempted turning, as in the valse. The following is the actual Boston step:
Step 1 (Fig. 1).-The lady takes a small slide forward with her right foot; and the gentleman a small slide backwards with his left foot. Both steps are taken obliquely.
Step 2 (Fig. 2.)-The lady takes a long slide forward with the left foot, outside her partner's feet. The gentleman takes a long slide backwards with his right foot. These steps should carry the dancers well round the circle.
Step 3 (Fig. 3).-The lady draws her right foot forward to her left; the gentleman his wards with her left foot; her partner, a small slide forward with
Fig. 4. Fourth step. The lady takes a small oblique slide back' the right tsol left foot back to his right, both closing in third position. The dancers are now half round the circle, and standing in opposite positions to Fig. 1.
Step 4 (Fig. 4).-The lady takes a small oblique slide backwards with her left foot, and the gentleman a small slide forward with his right.
Step 5 (Fig. 5).-The lady takes a long slide backwards with her right foot; and the gentleman a long slide forward with his left foot.
Step 6 (Fig. 6).-The lady draws her left foot back to her right; and the gentleman his right foot forward to his left, both closing in third position. The dancers having finished the step and described a complete circle, can continue as before, from step 1.
In dancing the Boston it will be noticed from the illustrations that the dancer's feet do not intermingle, but pass each other. The circle in the Boston is much larger than in the valse, as every step is taken at a considerable angle. The dancers stand further apart, and it is therefore unnecessary for their feet to pass between when moving. As in the valse, there is absolutely no rule as to the method of progression when Bostoning. Once the step is learned the dancers must use their own discretion regarding turning, reversing, or " running." These runs can be introduced at any time; or omitted entirely. If danced, their principal feature is their perfect smoothness, and regularity. There should be no jerks, hops, or unevenness in a good Boston step. Reversing in the Boston implies no variation in the step; it is simply a case of turning the reverse way. The gentleman's step, as in valsing, is precisely similar to the lady's,
Fig. 5. Fifth step. The lady takeg a long slide backwards with her right foot; her partner, a long slide forward with the left
Fig. 6. Sixth step.
The pupil draws her left foot back to the right; her partner, the right foot forward to the left. This completes the movement Photos] [M. Jacolette only starting with the left foot at step 4, and finishing at step 3.
In addition to the hundreds of incorrect Bostons there are several proper variations in set form. One of the most popular is the nine-boston, so called because it consists of nine steps. Starting with one ordinary circle of six steps, the gentleman then backs himself towards the centre of the room, taking three smooth steps (left, right, left), the lady doing the same thing forward (right, left, right). A reverse turn then follows, starting at step 4; after which the gentleman again backs himself towards outside of room, taking three steps. In each case, the three backing steps are taken obliquely; the dance thus forming a zigzag. This is a particularly pretty and fascinating form of the Boston.
The five-boston consists of five sliding steps taken sideways, with a long dip on every second step. A sharp turn is taken on step 5, so that the dancers alternately face the wall. The two-boston is the two-step to valse time. In addition there is the double-boston. This-like most variations of the Boston-is a series of half-turns. An ordinary turn, a reverse, two backing steps, followed by another ordinary turn. The whole thing is then repeated with reverse turns, and vice versa. This Boston takes sixteen bars of music to complete.
The many freak dances which had sprung up like mushrooms in 1910, such as the Judy walk, one-step, crab step, and Boston trot, are not genuine dances at all. They are the unnecessarily officious inventions of those who are not sufficiently painstaking to learn the real steps.