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April 18, 2008


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It definitely doesn't sound like a fox trots.

The logistics of managing four legs attached to two bodies are very different from the logistics of managing four legs attached to one body. In the equine sense, the trot involves moving diagonally opposite legs at the same time. I think that would apply to other four-legged animals like foxes as well. But with two dancers, you want to move the two legs on one side at the same time, as otherwise, lacking the inherent sense of where one's legs are which is presumably innate in the naturally four-legged, you would kick or step on your partner. In a horse, this would be the "pace" gait used in harness racing. Camels pace naturally. I don't know about foxes.

I have come across sheet music with the words fox-trot as early as 1905, including In My Merry Oldsmobile 1906, usually a waltz, with a variation printed in the music for a fox-trot. This leads me to think fox-trot was around long before 1914, but no one ever acknowledges this. What do you think??

Hi Bridget,
My best guess is that there were quite a number of "animal dances" (turkey trot, grizzly bear, etc.) in the pre-WWI era, and that there might well have been a "fox-trot" among them that predated the dance that became popular in 1914. It's also possible that the 1914 version of the dance or its immediate ancestor was indeed around earlier and simply never appears on the radar before 1914 because it wasn't that popular until then. Unless you can find some sheet music with dance instructions or some other documentation turns up, this is going to remain one of those little mysteries!

I actually have learned from a musician/historian friend, that sheet music was often reprinted at a later date with the initial publishing date on it, so may not be an accurate way to date dances after all! Confounding!

Bridget you are correct, the music wasn't simply reprinted it was re-copywritten with new arrangements of old tunes into the newer dance time signatures. This was, if you will, the idea of the dance remix done all the way back in the Ragtime era. So a song that was previously a popular Two-Step or Turkey Trot in 2/4 time would be arranged in 4/4 time and reprinted now as a Fox Trot. If they released the work without first having secured the new copyright then it would have the original arrangements copyright date, sometimes up to a decade prior.
I've checked every known sheet with such dating and found this to be true, they are all republished reworked pieces. The earliest true Fox Trot music dates to July of 1914 "Carolina Fox Trot".

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