The Peabody is a Ballroom dance form similar to the Foxtrot made poplar at the beginning of the 20th century by William Frank Peabody, a N.Y. police lieutenant and active dancer. The use of the Right Outside Partner position is a major characteristic of this dance form. For the most part, the Peabody is a fast One-Step danced to lively ragtime music.
While much isn’t been written about the dance form, it is based on the ‘English’, a dance position that lead to some unique steps and patterns. The police lieutenant’s girth forced him to create the dance position where his lady partner was on his right. It went on to become the modern Quick Step with a bit of the Charleston incorporated into the style. The modern Quick Step may bear little resemblance to the Peabody although many steps remain the same. The basic step is a Cross Step and Lock Step. The partners travel at a brisk pace with the leader changing sides from right to left and back again. The Leader travels across the floor with slight dipping motions similar to the rolling of a wave.
The Peabody is one dance that can keep you on your toes. It is a walking type dance with long, gliding steps that are performed in time to ragtime. There is no doubt that it requires a huge dance floor just like the Quick Step and International Style Foxtrot. It has been very often considered a novelty dance at competitions. The jumpy, energetic dance form managed to stick around for a while even though other fad dances like the Bunny Hug and Grizzly Bear faded away. Most importantly, it make its way into the American Smooth Syllabus. One of the main reasons for the Peabody not gaining as much popularity as one would imagine was that it never really caught on after the end of the ragtime era.
The Peabody was popular at jazz clubs in the early 1920s and embodies the Golden Age of Ragtime and Dixieland jazz. The attire is something that’s important in this dance form. Traditionally, men wear old style suits with derby hats while women wear long dresses. The steps follow an open box pattern and can get intricate at times. However, there is always room for improvisation. While it may have not been so popular later in the 20th century, if you are a ballroom enthusiast, this is one of the intriguing dance forms worth considering.
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