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Unclassified Quickstep Figures II

by Roy & Phyllis Stier
December, 1991

BACK FISHTAIL: The starting position for this figure is with the man's L back and the lady's R forward in strong contra body (having made a LF turn for this position from the previous figure). Using forward poise, on step 1 the man crosses R in front of L as the lady crosses L behind R, both on the toes as the forward poise is maintained. Step 2 is man's L moving backward and somewhat left as the lady steps forward diagonally on her R, again both on the toes. On 3, the man takes a diagonal step backward on his R as the lady steps forward and slightly left on her L with both on the toes and still maintaining forward poise (man).

Note: For the man there is a slight LF turn on step 1 which is compensated for on steps 2 and 3 so that he ends up facing nearly the same as his starting direction, lady opposite.

Step 4 is a crossing of L over R (T) for the man as he moves somewhat forward with a left shoulder lead while the lady crosses R behind L (T). Then on 5, the man steps diagonally back on his R toe and lowers to the heel, ladies opposite. Timing is SQQQQ and normally starts with the man facing DRC for his first step and ending RLOD. If the first step for the man is taken backward toward LOD, he would end up facing DRW.

THE TWO FISHTAILS: Actually an amalgamation with a lead to end with a normal Fishtail. This figure starts with a Back Fishtail as described above where the man steps diagonally back down LOD on his R toe (using the normal starting position) as he brings the lady back in line (CP) as she steps forward on her L toe (S). We now follow with and Open Finish, which is a lead back on the man's L (full foot) down LOD where he starts to bring the lady back to contra banjo. This is a preparation step (S) and not part of the actual Open Finish. The lady has a heel lead as she rises to the R toe while blending to contra banjo facing LOD and a little toward DLC. The two quicks that follow are the actual Open Finish on the man's R, L, as he turns LF, first bringing the lady into line (on the ball of the foot), then side and slightly forward (toe) to end facing the wall still in CP but preparing to step outside on the lady's right side. Ladies turn LF on the R, L, toes, then lower to the heel at the end to face COH.

To complete the figure, the man turns an additional 1/8 LF as he uses a R heel, rising to the toe to start the normal Fishtail. Ladies step backward in contra body DLW on the L toe starting to turn a little RF. The four quicks that follow to complete the figure have been described previously. This one, however, has only a slight RF turn which is compensated for on the third and fourth quicks to end once more with the man facing DLW, still outside partner.

We need to recap the timing for this amalgamation in order to sort out the problems of the lengthy sequence: Back Fishtail SQQQQ, Preparation S, Open Finish QQ, Fishtail SQQQQ.

SIDE FLICKS: This usually follows a Tipsy Point with the couple remaining in place and using four quick beats of music. The weight is first centralized and then as the flicking foot is taken to the side with a controlled vertical bouncing action, the supporting foot is replaced in the same space on the floor. Normally, the lead is with the man's L and the lady's R, however, it can be done with the opposite feet. Note that this action is quite different from the Flea Flicks as used in jive because there is no lateral movement before replacing the weight.

WOODPECKER: When a Tipsy is taken with a hop and tap in place, it is called a Woodpecker if the tapping foot is held toe down in a nearly vertical position. It can follow a Tipsy or Side Flicks and consists of two quick taps.

PEPPER POT: This is a name given to a Woodpecker type of figure where it is accompanied by a RF turn. Again, the hop and tap are simultaneous as it follows a QQS entry. Two taps are made as the couple turns RF followed by a 1&2-count Tipsy. A good entry is to use a Tipsy Point followed by two Side Flicks (QQS) where the man uses a slight right sway.

CRACKERJACK: An older style movement that is seldom used any more (see Lazy Quickstep by Gordon Moss). The entry most used is a Tipsy Point followed by a step, thru hop = spring thru. The basic movement is for the man to pull the L back while extending the R, then pull the R back while extending the L (lady uses opposite footwork). More particularly, it is the inside edge of the L and outside edge of the R, then opposite footwork . . . The couple maintains a fairly compact SCP as the feet are extended on the diagonal. If the spring thru is used for the entry, timing is normally &S, Q&QQQ.

Note: Some of the above figures have been standardized since this article was written.

This concludes nearly all the quickstep figures and actions that do not normally appear in print. We will continue next time with some considerations of the original waltz type, the fast or Viennese waltz.

This column comes from a series published in Cue Sheet Magazine between 1987 and 1992, and is reprinted with permission. The full series is collected in an 86-pg booklet, available for $30.00 plus postage. E-mail Fran Kropf at This article was published in the Dixie Round Dance Council (DRDC)  Newsletter, September 2013.


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