History of Nite Club 2 Step
(Commonly called Nite Club)
This was excerpted
from an article by
Rick Archer at SSQQ
Nite Club is an
interesting dance that is described as an "up-tempo" slow
dance, assuming your sensibilities can handle such an obvious
oxymoron. Popular first in
California and now making its way across the country, Nite Club is a
triple-step dance that combines a little bit of several dances and
adds some twists of its very own.
Latin dancers say Nite
Club is taken from Salsa, Western dancers claim it is a slow Polka,
and Ballroom dancers see resemblances to Samba and Bolero.
Chances are, if you know any dance at all based on a Triple
Step, at some point you will notice similarities between your dance
and Nite Club. The man who
created the dance, Buddy Schwimmer, said in his experience Nite Club
most closely resembles Cumbia, but adds he had never seen a Cumbia in
his life when he began experimenting with his own dance back in 1965.
Mr. Schwimmer probably
never expected his dance to become the fixture it is on the Western
Buddy Schwimmer is a
well-known Swing instructor based out on the West Coast.
He was born into a family of dance champions. As
a 15-year-old teenager, Mr. Schwimmer developed Nite Club when he
noticed that most of his friends just stood still and clung to their
dates when romantic songs like “Soul and Inspiration” by the
Righteous Brothers were played at their parties.
Acknowledging that there were some virtues to a 3-minute
standing clench, Mr. Schwimmer still figured there had to be a more
interesting alternate style of dance than that.
Finding none, he invented his own dance and called it the
“Nightclub Two-Step”. (Note:
since there already are enough dances with overlapping names as it is,
the name has been shortened to simply “Nite Club” to avoid
comparisons or confusion with our own Texas Two Step).
Although Nite Club is
taught predominantly as a Western dance, everyone should be clear that
the dance is versatile enough to be danced to any 72-90 beat per
minute romantic song there is if that is what you wish to do.
Nite Club spans an enormous range of music from an In Sync love
ballad to a Gloria Estafan Latin torch song to a Platters hit from the
50s to Bill Withers’ 70s hit “Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s
Gone”. There are many
lovely romantic ballads recorded on Western CDs Nite Club gives people
an excellent dance to use to these recordings.
the years from the 30s classic “Stardust” to the Disco era classic
“Lady in Red” to the more recent hit “Circle of Life” from the
“Lion King”, over time, l as Mr.
Schwimmer has refined his dance and added patterns, Nite Club
has been growing in popularity across the country on a steady basis.
Nite Club was recently added as a competition dance by UCWDC.
It looks like Nite Club is poised to break into the Houston
dance scene very soon.
Below is an Interview
with Buddy Schwimmer, the creator of Nite Club Two Step, regarding his
thoughts on the dance.
Nightclub Two Step
An Interview with Buddy Schwimmer, the creator of this
beautiful "new" dance. by Philip Seyer
Phil has been dancing "20 years." For 12 of those
years Phil was dancing free style in singles parties and inventing his
own sexy version of Night Club Two Step.
Phil has been doing Buddy Schwimmer's style of Nightclub Two
Step and other ballroom dancing for 8 years.)
Philip Seyer begins:
I love Night Club Two
Step ("Nite Club" for short).
Its a dance you can do in night clubs as well as ballrooms and
at weddings. It's perfect
for medium slow popular music, for example "Lady In Red"
(from the movie of the same title).
A few years ago I
decided to introduce Night Club Two Step to a lady I was chatting with
at a local Swing club in San Mateo, California.
"This is a new
dance" I told the lady proudly, "it was developed just two
years ago by a dance teacher in Los Angeles.
interesting," she said politely, "but I think I learned it
15 years ago."
Maybe you learned something similar.
"No, it WAS Nite
Club Two Step."
"Where did you
learn it? Who was your
"I learned it at a
Buddy Schwimmer dance workshop."
I began to turn a little
red. I was so proud of my
knowledge of this "new" dance.
But could she be right? After
all, I had heard that Buddy Schwimmer had invented the dance just two
years ago. I decided to
check my facts. I took
every Nite Club Two Step class I could from San Francisco Bay area
teachers. But no one
mentioned anything about the history of the dance.
Finally I got the courage to call Buddy Schwimmer, himself.
In the rest of this article, you can "listen in" on
Two Step is Becoming more Well-known.
Seyer: Nite Club Two
Step -- I think it is a terrific dance!
Schwimmer: Thank you.
Seyer: But it's not so
well known--like say, Rumba, cha-cha, waltz, tango and dances like
Schwimmer: You'd be
surprised how many people do know about it, though.
You know it's on the Internet [the new computer super highway].
The university students are chatting about it all the time.
Seyer: What kinds of
questions do they have?
Schwimmer: They want to
know more about it, where it came from and what kind of music does it
go with, and about the different movements for it.
Also, I teach people up and down the coast and in Europe and
London, too. So it depends
on where you go.
How Two Step was Developed
Seyer: Is it true that
you developed it 30 years ago?
I was 15 years old. I
was doing a line dance called Surfer Stomp, where the guys stand on
one side and the girls on the other.
You do Side, Cross Side, Stomp.
Side, Cross, Side, Stomp. We'd
join hands and push 'em up in the air on the stomp.
The count was: one, two, three, touch four; one, two, three,
touch four. We'd do that
to the faster music and it worked fine.
But when a slow piece would come on, we still wanted to dance,
but the footwork was too slow.
We'd be going:
So we double timed it and the count became One & Two &
Three & Four. We
thought of taking two steps with the left foot and then two steps with
the right foot like this (leader's part):
Left & Left -- Right
& Right. Or 1 & 2
- 3 & 4 -
That's where the name
Two Step came from. [NOTE:
the first "Left," here, is similar to a 5th position break.
On the "&" you don't step, but replace your
weight on the right foot and then step side with your left foot onto
the slow. .]
Seyer: Can you name some
songs that you first danced Nite Club Two Step to?
I can't tell you, pal.
It's just mostly the ballads.
Songs that come to mind, now, are things like Jeffrey Osborn's
"On the Wings of Love," and Kenny Roger's "Love the
Night Club Two Step is even popular in New Zealand.
You may to also see: http://www.nzdances.co.nz/dance/danstyle/nightclub/ncindex.htm
for another perspective on Night Club Two Step.
Why People Need Two Step
Nite Club Two Step is
something that people need, because it a nightclub it's kind of stupid
to go out and do a Rumba, sticking your elbow in the air.
If you did that in the Marriott Hotel, they'd laugh at you.
The dance position for Nite Club Two Step is more natural, what
people tend to do without lessons, street dancing in other words.
Seyer: I've noticed that
some instructors teaching Two Step are recommending a ballroom dance
teachers try to make it, well...,ballroom.
I had one teacher, many years ago, said "Why don't we
start calling it 'Contemporary Foxtrot.'" That's a really stupid
name as far as I am concerned, because it always means that something
is up-to-date. For
example, people do swing a lot now days, but we don't call it
contemporary swing. Swing
is just swing.
Swing is not the same as
it was years ago, it has been modified.
Nite Club Two Step has gone through changes over the years just
like anything else.
Starting with the Rock Step
Ballroom teachers try to
make it Side, Rock Step, instead of Rock Step Side.
That makes it more like Bolero.
Seyer: So you don't
recommend starting Two Step with on the Slow.
Schwimmer: It's total
ludicrous. Also, in
Eastern Swing and West Coast Swing I recommend starting with the rock
step because that's the step that makes you move.
If you start with the rock step you can immediately lead an
Seyer: Many teachers, it
seems, are teaching people to start on the slow because it's easier to
do it that way.
Schwimmer: It's easier,
but then people don't look like they are doing the dance.
Seyer: If you start on
beat Two, would it still work to start on the slow?
Schwimmer: You mean hold
the one and then side on count two?
Schwimmer: That's fine
as long as you end up doing the rock step on the One-And.
"Dancing is to Music"
Seyer: Being a music
educator, myself, I've noticed that some teacher's don't teach to the
music very much. They just
teach steps and patterns, but not in relation to the music.
But dancing is to music. What
happens is that they teach what is easy to get people to do.
How Buddy Got Started as a Dance Teacher
Seyer: It must have been
easy for you when you created the dance.
You were only 15 when you developed Two Step! Incredible.
When did you serious start teaching Nite Club Two Step?
Schwimmer: We were
teaching in night clubs all the time, but I opened my first studio in
1978 and that was without everything that I loved in my life.
But I had won over 2,000 dance contests because we used to have
contests every other night in nightclubs.
People kept asking me to teach this.
So finally me and my, well, girlfriend, opened this studio.
It cost me $50 to start it.
I started in her dad's
warehouse in Costa Mecca. We
went from there. The
people liked the American style street dancing (and its a big thing in
Europe now). They didn't
like the ballroom, Latin, international, or whatever so much then.
They were into American style dancing, because it was more free
and more what's actually being done in clubs.
Studios sometimes design
their programs to keep people at their own studio.
They tell their people not to go to open dance competitions.
But we teach people so they go out and dance with other people
as opposed to dancing only with dancers at the same studio.
You'll never get better until you go out and see what other
people are doing and try to improve on what they are doing.
Seyer: Do you have any
tips for dancers or dance teachers?
Schwimmer: Learn why you
do steps a certain way. Fifteen
people will do the same step differently.
Figure out which one is correct and why.
Don't just do a step a certain way because so-and-so is a big
shot and says to do it that way.
How Nite Club Two Step Evolved
Seyer: Can you say a
little more about how Nite Club Two Step evolved.
Schwimmer: As I said, we
would do side, cross, side stomp as a line dance.
When we didn't have any lines, we would hold hands with our
partner and do the same thing. When
the music got slow it was kind of stupid to go S..I..D..E,
C..R..O..S..S, S..I..D..E. So
we double timed it and it felt more fun to do.
Some people say that
Nite Club Two Step is combination of Meringue, Samba, and Rumba put
together. When me and my
sister first did it, we hadn't seen any of these dances.
I was just a kid going to the park dance and never did that
kind of stuff. My sister
and my mother and father taught me how to dance.
They taught me to do the Surfer Stomp.
I decided I would only dance it with my sister since it was the
only step I could do easily, fast, and well.
Then we started doing it together as the Night Club Two Step.
Buddy's Parents Gave Him the Gift of Dance
Seyer: So were your
parents pretty good dancers?
Schwimmer: My mother and
father were never beaten in my life! I
know all the major swing dancers in the world.
I teach most of them. I
have people compete against them.
I've never seen a swing dancer better than my mother and
We used to go the Carnation place in Disneyland and when my
parents got on the floor, everyone else would get off to watch them.
Seyer: Are they still
Schwimmer: My dad, Abel
Schwimmer is dead. My
mother, May Schwimmer, is still alive, but she is quite old and
doesn't dance any more. We
used to live in the Chicago/Gary Indiana area.
They competed in Chicago and New York at all the jitterbug
competitions. They used to
call Dad, Jew Boy, Rubber Legs. He
used to compete against Shorty George.
(Shorty George was a black guy named George, who was 4'
10". He used to dance
with a 6' 4" lady and do a step where he would go between her
legs and come out the other side.) They used to compete at the Harvest
Moon Ball. My dad won it
four years in a row.
Seyer: So that's why you
didn't need lessons.
Schwimmer: I was a
terrible dancer when I started. I
was the worst dancer in the world.
My sister was a natural and my whole family (I have five
brothers and sisters) all danced.
But none of them did it for business.
I disagreed and decided to teach, dance, have a good time and
do my thing. I've made a
living from it for many, many years, traveling around the world.
Nite Club Two Step Takes Off!
Seyer: When did the Nite
Club Two Step become popular--really take off?
Schwimmer: It depends on
where you were (chuckle). As
far as we were concerned it was popular when we were 15 years old, in
1965. So if you were in
Whitaker, Illinois where we were raised, it was popular then.
Seyer: But when it did
it become popular, nationwide.
Schwimmer: It's still
not popular nationwide, like swing is.
But it is becoming more and more popular.
For example, I recently taught a group of 650 people in Santa
Rosa, California. All they
wanted for a whole weekend was Nite Club Two Step.
At BYU, Brigham University, Nite Club Two Step is as important
as Waltz in that in their curriculum of dance you must also learn Nite
Club Two Step. Recently
they have started to teach Nite Club Two Step in the European
ballrooms even though it is very hard to get any new dance in Europe.
Seyer: What I'm getting
at is when did Nite Club Two Step start to be required and taught in
Schwimmer: It's hard to
say. For different people
it became popular at different times.
I've been teaching in Canada for a long time.
Lots of people do it there.
Country and Western dancers are starting to do it and even use
it for competitions. It's
more popular now than it ever was.
Seyer: I was told by a
dance teacher in San Francisco that Nite Club Two Step was invented
four years ago.
laughter, cough, cough]
Seyer: He said that's
when you started touring and going around teaching the Nite Club Two
Step to other dance instructors.
Schwimmer: That's when
he came into the scene. That's
like a person who is a disco dancer relates everything they do to
disco. A Latin dancer
relates everything to Latin. Now
everyone he teaches will think that's true.
Unless you were there when I was 15 you don't really know.
Seyer: What do you like
best about the dance?
Schwimmer: It's the
alternative to the "Why" dance.
That's a dance where you stand, put your hands by your
partner's waist and your partner puts her arms around your neck.
You just step back and fort, back-and-forth for a while and
then say: "Why dance? Let's just go home." The non-dancers
do that. It's a lack of
knowledge and lack of technique and that's why they do it that way.
After five drinks, everyone thinks they are a wonderful dancer.
Buddy's Favorite Patterns
Seyer: Do you have any
Schwimmer: I like a very
easy pattern called "Around the World." I like that one and
the body wrap and unwrap. But
remember, it's not patterns that make a good dancer.
It is how you do them.
Nite Club Two Step Technique
Seyer: Do you have any
particular technique tips you can give?
Schwimmer: The number
one tip is to start with the rock-step on beat one--don't start with
the side step. That's
because the music is going quick, quick, slow, not slow, quick, quick.
Seyer: It seems that the
drum part is often going quick, quick, slow.
Schwimmer: That's true.
Usually, your second beat (or your upbeat) is your heavy beat.
ba, ba, B--A--A!, ba, ba, B--A--A!
quick, quick S-L-O-W!,
quick, quick S-L-O-W!
Seyer: Is the rock step
a fifth position or is it a back step?
Schwimmer: The toe is to
the heel, but not further. Don't
twist your hip. If your
hip opens up, you have gone too far.
Seyer: So the rock step
it is a fifth position break, right?
Schwimmer: Yes, it's not
just a back break. The
fifth position also opens you up to move the "girl." If you
do nothing more than step straight back, you will just keep doing the
basic step. Where the man
rocks, denotes where the girl is going to go next.
I use the side check a lot.
[Side rock step] If I'm going to do a left turn, I "side
check" because that's where I want her to go.
So the principle is that the man will rock in the direction
that he wants the lady to travel.
Seyer: It sounds like
you are really insistent that the dance should start with the rock
Schwimmer: The point is
that it is best if we dance to the music.
People who have learned Bolero always start by breaking side
because Bolero music starts with a slow.
Another example of the importance of dancing to music is
Cha-Cha. Do you start
Cha-Cha on Two or One?
Seyer: There's an accent
on beat Two.
Schwimmer: Yes, there is
an accent in Latin music. Now,
if you dance cha-cha to a disco piece that doesn't have that accent,
should you start on two?
Seyer: Well, it wouldn't
feel like cha-cha if didn't start on two.
Schwimmer: Yet, 90% of
the fast music played in nightclubs, doesn't have an accent on count
two. Yet people who do
cha-cha in nightclubs tend to start on count two regardless of the
accent. But the reason for
starting on count two was because of the music.
So if our whole idea is to dance to the music, then dancing on
count two to all music is incorrect! But
it's what you like.
Some people will say,
"Well, that's not a real cha-cha, so I won't dance cha-cha to it.
I'll do something else. That
would be the smart thing to do. But
it doesn't matter. It's
what you feel comfortable with. If
you're having a good time out there social dancing, the important
thing is what you feel comfortable with.
But if you are teaching, it's not what you feel comfortable
with; it's what is best for the student you are teaching--in the long
run. It may be easy today
to teach them something, but not good for them in the long run.
Seyer: In Latin dances
like cha-cha we use a lot hip movement--do you recommend that in Two
Schwimmer: What kind of
Seyer: Any hip movement.
Schwimmer: Heh, heh! There's
hip movements in every dance that you do, whether it is a hip that
stays still and then moves on the delayed count or a hip that moves
out first or a hip that rolls. But
I don't recommend a Latin hip movement.
If you do that, you start looking like a Latin dancer trying to
do Nite Club Two Step.
You wouldn't want me to
do Latin or Cuban hip movement in waltz would you?
Schwimmer: Then don't do
it in Nite Club Two Step. Heh,
heh, heh, ha, Heh!
The Hip Lift
Seyer: What about a hip
Schwimmer: You're trying
to say, "Can I do this or that"? It
Seyer: A teacher that I
like very much in the San Francisco Bay Area strongly recommends a hip
lift on the "and" of count one.
He says to lift your hip as you press into the floor.
Schwimmer: Does it raise
your head up?
He stresses that you should not be bobbing up and down.
Schwimmer: I'd have to
see it, but it sounds like it wouldn't be too bad.
But that would be my personal opinion.
I might not like something, but that doesn't mean you can't do
Learning the Differences Between Dances
An important point here
is that a good teacher will teach students more about the differences
between dances than the similarities.
For example, there is a box step in Foxtrot, Waltz, and Rumba.
But are they the same? A good teacher will show you the
differences. Have you ever
seen a good ballet dancer who doesn't yet know ballroom? She will look
like she is doing ballet no matter what dance she is doing.
That's because she hasn't been shown the differences.
She's just been told to keep her arms and up and lifts from the
Seyer: How do you feel
about integrating some of the old "swaying" steps into Night
Club two step.
Schwimmer: You can
integrate anything you want as long as you don't take away the style
of the dance. For example,
I wouldn't try to integrate a whip from West Coast swing into Nite
Club Two Step. You'll be a
better dancer if you concentrate on doing the steps you known cleanly
instead of throwing in everything but the kitchen sink.
Close Body Position
Seyer: I'm thinking of a
swaying step you do in close position.
Schwimmer: There is a
"close body" Two Step pattern like that.
It starts out with a touch and lifting the hip first.
Touch, step side, touch step side.
Videos and Dance Camps
Seyer: That sounds like
variation I'd enjoy doing. Do
you have any videos that teach movements like that?
Schwimmer: I have two
videos that teach Nite Club Two Step.
Each one has 25 different patterns on it.
Seyer: Where can that be
Schwimmer: Just call me
or write to me. I have a
summer dance camp they can go to learn and I also put on the World
Swing Dance Championships. My
dance camp will be Hawaii this year; the year after that we will be in
San Diego. Mine is the
longest running dance camp in the US.
This is our 18th year.
Seyer: How long does
each camp session last?
Schwimmer: One week.
Seyer: I'm sure you do a
lot of Nite Club two-step lessons at your camps.
What are your favorite Nite Club Two Step songs right now?
Schwimmer: Mine? Oooo,
Gosh! I like "Circle
of Life" from the movie from the movie Lion King.
There are all kinds of 'em.
That's my favorite right now.
Seyer: When it comes to
tempo, what kinds of songs do you think are suitable for Nite Club Two
Step. Like, how many beats
per minute is Nite Club Two Step music?
Schwimmer: I never worry
about the beats per minute. It
depends on the person dancing it.
Some people, like in triple time swing, can dance it very fast
and get though the triple with no problem.
Other people say its too fast and they go to single time.
I, myself, like a medium tempo, like in THE CIRCLE OF LIFE.
My wife likes it a little faster.
Everyone is a little different.
If it gets too fast, it looks like you're running and that's
not good. If it gets too
slow, it looks like you're waiting.
So you have to figure out what's best for you and what you can
Salsa and Cumbia and Nite Club Two Step
Seyer: I heard one
teacher say that we can actually use Nite Club Two Step patterns for
Well, actually Nite Club Two Step is similar to Cumbia (a dance
I never knew about before I created Nite Club Two Step).
It's a Latin dance that's done by more people than any other
Latin dance. It's a street
dance that's well known to the Latin night club community, but not the
Two Step, Step List
Seyer: Is there an
official step list for Nite Club Two Step like there is for other
Schwimmer: I have my
own. I have a step list of
123 patterns. But there
are many more steps than that because everyone makes up their own,
Seyer: Are all of those
covered on your videos?
Schwimmer: There are 25
patterns on teach tape and I have two tapes.
Seyer: So where do
people learn the other 73 patterns?
Schwimmer: In workshops.
I teach all over the world, all the time.
Every week I teach somebody different.
I make 60 trips a year on the road.
Seyer: Do you publish
Schwimmer: If people
call me and they want to know when I'm in a certain area, I'll let 'em
Seyer: I've been
concentrating on Nite Club Two Step for some time in my area.
Schwimmer: Where are you
Seyer: Near the Avenue
Ballroom in San Francisco. I'm
teaching Nite Club Two Step there now.
Schwimmer: Oh, yeah! I
used to go there years ago. Who
Seyer: Joel Kosei.
Schwimmer: He used to be
known as Oz. He sent out
letters to everyone saying, "I'm now to be known as Joel, instead
of Oz." Oz was his nickname, like Buddy is mine.
Seyer: Well, then,
Buddy, do you have any cautions to offer us? Things
to watch out for?
And this is the bad part, I have to tell you.
Watch out how you learn a dance.
If you learn it wrong, it’s hard to break your bad habits.
It is easy to learn Nite Club Two Step.
But it is hard to break those bad habits; they will start to
feel is natural. Out of
every 100 teachers, 2 are good. Ninety-eight
are just there doing a service.
Seyer: What other Nite
Club Two Step Tips and Traps can you offer?
Schwimmer: Breaking to
the side on count one, as we've already discussed.
Cranking the girls arm on a turn--you've got to get rid of
that. Thumb holds--that's
should never happen; you can hurt a lady's arm that way.
Keep in mind that the area from the shoulders to the hip is the
lead zone. Never lead
turns above the shoulders; don't lead turns below the shoulders.
Initiate from the body. If
you start turning a lady with your arm held high, you have done a
disservice to her. You
should move her body first and then the hand goes up.
If you are in dance position, the leader's right hand is the
lead hand. The upper hand
is a guide for direction only. If
a teacher notices a problem in this area, the teacher needs to point
out to the leader why what he is doing is wrong.
undoubtedly there will be some dance teachers as well as students
reading this article. Let
me finish by asking you this: how can students and teachers can
continue to improve and be in that top two percent you talked about
The Best Teachers Know Why
workshops and ask questions. A
group of 60 teachers brought me up to the Bay Area one time.
But all they wanted me to do was to give them material--steps
and patterns. They didn't
care about why or why not? But
the best teacher is the one who knows why.
When a student asks me a question about a step, I always start
by explaining why it should be done a certain way.
If it doesn't seem logical to the student, we talk about it.
We keep talking until either I convince the student or the
student convinces me. There
is a logical way of dancing. It's
got to make sense. If it
doesn't something is wrong.
Seyer: Buddy, I like
your idea of focusing on WHY. You've
inspired me to ask teachers to give the reasons behind their
techniques. So at your
next workshop, when you point directly at me and insist that I point
my toes out slightly...I'll be ready for you!
Schwimmer: Heh, heh!
Excellent. You do ask a
lot of good questions.
Seyer: Buddy, you've
given us a lot good tips. Thanks
for being so generous with your time.
welcome. I'm glad to have
been of help.
For more information on
music and dance you may want to see:
About the Authors
Philip Seyer has
authored books on music, computers, and psychology and is currently
working on composing original music for a new CD album entitled
Starlight Room. He has
been dancing 20 years and is now teaching Night Club Two Step, Hustle,
and West Coast Swing. You
can reach him by calling 415-665-8933.
Buddy Schwimmer gives
dance workshops in Nite Club Two Step, Swing and Hustle and tours the
West Coast, Europe, Canada and England.
He also hosts dance camps and the American Swing Dance
Championships. You can
write to him at 26860 Ironwood Ave.
Moreno Valley, CA 92555 or call him at 909-243-9438
For more tips on dancing
from Buddy Schwimmer, go to: http://www.mortimer.com/trkleinco/buddy/tips.htm
This was excerpted
from an article by
Rick Archer at SSQQ