What happens when you combine the theatrics of Broadway, the rhythm of swing, and the flair of ballroom dance? You get the quickstep! This lively, elegant dance style developed in the 1920s from mixes of foxtrot, charleston, ragtime, and other jazzy steps. It became a popular exhibition dance adopted by competitive ballroom dancers for its sheer energy. But what songs truly embody quickstep's spirit?
This playlist rounds up 21 irresistible tunes perfect for this fast-paced dance, from retro covers to movie musical numbers.
Whether you actually attempt the intricate quickstep footwork or just want to channel the Roaring Twenties, these songs will energize your mood and soundtrack everything from an art deco soiree to a lively solo dance party.
Keep reading for the top quickstep tracks that capture the dazzling essence of the Jazz Age.
Benny Goodman's frenzied jazz masterpiece "Sing Sing Sing" from 1938, featuring the great drummer Gene Krupa, kicks things off with a swing. Goodman's howling clarinet drives the big band forward, capturing the exuberant energy and joy of the swing era perfectly. Begin your quickstep with this lively beat as your guide.
The brass section of the orchestra adds a catchy melody to the song, and the standout percussion solo punctuates the tune. Additionally, Benny Goodman delivers a clarinet solo that steals the show.
"Sing, Sing, Sing" is a must-have for every quickstep playlist, whether you're a jazz fan or simply in search of some uplifting music.
Glenn Miller's iconic 1939 hit "In the Mood" keeps the big band magic alive. Miller's rhythmic orchestration and sweet melodies turned this into the unquestionable swing anthem.
Glenn Miller's rendition of "In the Mood" is a lively, energetic composition featuring a driving rhythm section, a catchy melody, and a memorable saxophone solo. The saxophones and trumpets deliver a recurring theme that forms the core of the song's melody.
The vocals in this song are instrumental, meaning there are no lyrics. Instead, the song's rhythm and melody drive its momentum. "In the Mood" should be on your quickstep playlist because it is a classic big band-era tune that is perfect for dancing.
Count Basie dials up the heat with the sizzling instrumental "Jumpin' at the Woodside" from 1938. This jazz floor-filler features screaming trumpets and a strident keyboard. Let it infuse your feet with energy and make you jump.
The lead saxophone player brings simmering intensity to the song, gradually building to a rolling boil from a rhythmic piano motif.
The track takes its name from the Woodside Hotel, a famous Harlem hotel where jazz musicians and Negro league baseball players stayed during the era of segregation when visiting New York City.
In this song, the horns take center stage, engaging in a call-and-response arrangement with the rhythm section. The rhythm section provides a driving beat while the horns deliver the tune.
With its moderate tempo, "Jumpin' at the Woodside" is perfect for quickstep dancing, and its exhilarating climax offers dancers the ideal opportunity to showcase their skills.
Duke Ellington specifically composed this tune to convey the spirit of swing music, which he regarded as jazz's most crucial element. It quickly gained popularity and has since been covered in various genres by numerous musicians.
The song features a straightforward and distinctive melody, highlighted by a recurring hook that's easy to remember. It features a call-and-response structure, with the lead vocalist singing a phrase and the band responding with a musical riff.
This jazz standard perfectly captures the essence of swing music. With its bright and energetic vibe, memorable melody, and lighthearted lyrics, it's a fantastic addition to any quickstep playlist.
The Andrews Sisters' classic 1941 rendition of "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" gets you into the groove. They combine tight harmonies with jump blues beats to strike the perfect balance of quickstep vitality and nostalgia.
This song boasts a catchy chorus that's easy to sing along with and a bright, uplifting melody. Its lyrics tell the story of a bugle boy who masters the boogie-woogie beat on his instrument, quickly becoming the life of the party.
Over the years, many artists have covered it, with Bette Midler achieving success with the song in 1973. Its nostalgic vibe appeals to fans of retro music, and its enduring popularity is a testament to its timeless appeal.
The jovial 1930s showtune "Puttin' on the Ritz" from the movie of the same name showcases Fred Astaire's genteel charm. The quick pace glides gracefully above Astaire's silky vocal performance.
This song revolves around the idea of dressing up and going out on the town to meet people and create a positive impression. A trumpet solo during the song's orchestral interlude adds to its jazzy ambiance. Additionally, the song's chorus features a catchy melody that repeats throughout.
If you enjoy dancing to enthusiastic, vibrant songs with a jazzy flair, "Puttin' on the Ritz" should definitely be a part of your quickstep playlist.
On "Steppin' Out with My Baby," Tony Bennett, the song's hallmark performer, adds a sophisticated flair to his romantic rendition. Bennett's warm vocals glide smoothly to the steady foxtrot beats.
This song is typically played in major chords and boasts a brisk tempo. Its melody swings with an energetic and catchy quality, making it perfect for dancing. Additionally, it features a brass section that enhances the song's dynamic and invigorating nature.
A timeless classic, "Steppin' Out with My Baby" has stood the test of time. It serves as the perfect accompaniment to dancing, especially the quickstep, thanks to its cheerful and lively melody, heartfelt lyrics, and swing-style vibe.
Let's revisit the nimble footsteps of Fred Astaire as he takes on the peppy 1936 showtune "Top Hat, White Tie and Tails," a reference to the stylish attire worn by ballroom dancers of days gone by. Astaire's cheerful vocals bop along with uptown panache.
This song exudes a swinging, jazzy vibe that perfectly captures the energy and excitement of the era. Its lyrics revolve around the idea of dressing up and hitting the town. It serves as a prime example of the sophisticated and romantic lyrics that were prevalent during the golden age of Hollywood musicals.
"Top Hat, White Tie and Tails" unquestionably deserves a spot on your quickstep playlist if you're a devotee of classic Hollywood musicals, ballroom dancing, or simply exceptional music.
Stevie Wonder brings his funky brilliance to life in his lively 1976 song "Sir Duke." He energetically pays homage to Duke Ellington and the buoyant spirit of swing through his performance. Wherever you are, this joyous highlight will have you quickstepping.
This song celebrates the power of music to bring people together while also honoring the artists who have influenced Stevie Wonder's music. The big horn section gives it a dynamic and energizing feel.
The song's optimistic lyrics praise the ability of music to unite audiences, and its catchy horn section and memorable chorus make it an excellent choice for dancing.
Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong come together in their delightful duet "Cheek to Cheek" from 1956. Their breezy back-and-forth vocals dance on top of swinging beats. This song has a slow, swinging rhythm that is easy to dance to, and the lyrics are sweet and romantic.
One of the song's highlights is the vocal duet between Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong, whose distinct vocal styles harmoniously blend. The song features rich and deep orchestration, including a rhythm section, horns, and strings, all contributing to the overall tone.
The romantic and vintage atmosphere of "Cheek to Cheek" is perfect for dancing. Let this duo effortlessly transport you to quickstep paradise.
Nat King Cole takes the lead in "Let's Face the Music and Dance," a captivating standard. Cole's smooth voice gracefully flows over the loping rhythms, encouraging us to embrace challenges and treasure the present.
The song boasts an enthusiastic, lively melody with a swinging rhythm that beckons you to dance. Backed by a full band and a robust horn section, it exudes a vintage jazz ambiance. Its upbeat lyrics inspire the listener to confront life's obstacles with a positive attitude.
The song's central message is to keep dancing and enjoying life, regardless of circumstances. With its swing rhythm and uplifting message, it's a fantastic addition to any quickstep playlist.
When Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta perform the duet "You're the One That I Want" from the 1978 Grease movie, they transport us back to the 1970s. Their pop voices enhance the quickstep's fierce intensity and vigor.
The song's nostalgic ambiance is a throwback to the 1950s, the era in which the movie is set. It's a flirtatious and playful love song that's perfect for dancing.
The song achieved immense financial success, topping the charts in numerous countries, including Australia, the United States, and the United Kingdom. With its catchy melody, humorous lyrics, and nostalgic feel, it's a lively addition to any quickstep playlist.
The legendary Fats Waller injects humor and verve into his breezy 1929 stride piano hit "Ain't Misbehavin'." Waller's exuberant vocals scat and laugh, capturing the carefree Harlem rent party scene that gave birth to jazz.
This song enjoyed commercial success, with all six recordings of the song in 1929 ranking highly in the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) rankings for that year. Moreover, many artists have covered it over the years, including Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, and Nat King Cole.
Its melody exemplifies the classic stride piano style of jazz piano, emphasizing rhythmic left-hand accompaniment while the right hand handles the melody and improvisation. If you're a fan of quickstep dancing, "Ain't Misbehavin'" is an excellent addition to your playlist.
Returning to the screen, Fred Astaire performs a smooth rendition of "The Way You Look Tonight" by the Gershwins from the 1936 movie Swing Time. Astaire's soft crooning beautifully captures the gentle spell of love.
This song's opening line, "Some day, when I'm awfully low," sets the tone for the rest of the song, which is a declaration of love and admiration for the person being.
It won the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1936. Since then, countless performers have recorded covers of it, making it a jazz standard.
This song is a must-have on every quickstep playlist due to its widespread appeal and timelessness. Its lovely melody and lyrics will guarantee a wonderful dance experience.
We hop back to the 40s as Bing Crosby lends his velvet vocals to the cheerful 1944 ditty "Swingin' on a Star." Backed by a lively big band arrangement, it reminds us to be humble as we quickstep through life.
This song exudes a cheerful and upbeat vibe, with a catchy melody that is easy to sing along to. Its lyrics playfully encourage listeners to dream big and reach for the stars.
This song was an instant hit and quickly became one of Crosby's most popular songs. Additionally, it won the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1944.
Its swinging rhythm and upbeat vibe make it the perfect song for dancing, and its playful lyrics will keep you smiling all night long.
Bobby Darin epitomizes Rat Pack cool on his swinging 1959 cover of "Beyond the Sea." Darin's romantic vocals paired with big band instrumentation make this an enduring dancefloor favorite.
This song's chorus is particularly catchy and memorable, with the lines "Somewhere beyond the sea, Somewhere waiting for me, My lover stands on golden sands, And watches the ships that go sailing."
Bobby Darin's version of "Beyond the Sea" is the most popular and well-known version of the song. It reached No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100, No. 15 on the US R&B Chart, and No. 8 in the UK Singles Chart.
It is a classic song with a timeless melody and romantic lyrics. Its upbeat vibes and catchy chorus make it a great addition to any quickstep playlist. Let it whisk you across the ballroom in blissful retro style.
Scottish songstress KT Tunstall brings driving acoustic power pop energy to her 2004 breakout hit "Suddenly I See." Her earnest vocals ride the galloping beat, urging us to keep looking on the bright side.
Its upbeat melody and strong vocals make it an anthem for women across the globe.
This song won Tunstall the 2006 Ivor Novello Award for Best Song Musically and Lyrically.
The song's tempo is perfect for dancing the quickstep, a ballroom dance that is characterized by its fast pace and lively movements.
Pink Martini's retro charm shines through in her genre-blending 2009 track "But Now I'm Back". This song has a jazzy and upbeat feel characteristic of Pink Martini's music. The use of brass and percussion instruments gives the song an upbeat and festive feel.
The melody of the song is catchy and memorable. The use of a horn section adds depth to the song and makes it sound full and rich. Its melody is cheerful and upbeat, in keeping with the song's lyrics.
"But Now I'm Back" is a fun and upbeat song, perfect for dancing.
The vocal group Swing Republic fuses old and new styles on their vibrant electro swing take on Beyonce's "Crazy in Love" from 2014. Dancehall rhythms and brassy horns meet diva vocals for a unique modern quickstep experience.
Swing Republic infuses their version with elements of old school jazz, blues, ragtime, and early rock. The rhythmic track allows dancers to showcase fast footwork, spins, and synchronized steps like the Lindy hop.
While a modern update, "Crazy in Love" by Swing Republic nails the vintage vibe of classic swing music. For any high-octane playlist, especially one focused on swing dancing, this cover delivers a contemporary spin on a timeless sound.
Christina Aguilera shows off her powerhouse pipes on "Show Me How You Burlesque" from the 2010 film Burlesque. This track aims to capture the playful, sensual spirit of burlesque dancing.
With its smooth funk guitars, swinging percussion, and Aguilera's powerful, raspy vocals, this song creates an atmosphere of retro musical theater glamour. Its melody combines influences like jazz, soul, and Broadway musicals to achieve a modern take on vintage burlesque sound.
Christina evokes vintage vaudeville and soul amid modern beats to create a booty-shaking quickstep showstopper.
We end our quickstep journey with Nicole Kidman leading a rendition of "Sparkling Diamonds" from the 2001 film Moulin Rouge. This flashy song encapsulates the extravagant vibes of Paris's famed Moulin Rouge cabaret theater at the turn of the 20th century.
With its driving rhythm, burlesque lyrics, and Kidman's powerful vocals, "Sparkling Diamonds" creates an atmosphere of risqué excitement. The melody alternates between sensual, sweeping verses and an upbeat, punchy chorus as Kidman sings about becoming enthralled by the "diamonds" of the nightclub scene.
"Sparkling Diamonds" is a mesmerizing and flamboyant production number. Its theatrics and bold energy epitomize the mood of extravagant early 1900s Parisian nightlife. For any playlist celebrating quickstep, this classic song deserves a spot.
In conclusion, a quickstep playlist is a great way to get your heart rate up and have some fun on the dance floor. With its mix of elegance and high-powered motion, quickstep provides great exercise while connecting you to generations of music and dance history. These 21 tracks will start your feet flying and heart soaring.