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11a. Cross-Body Lead

Cross-Body Lead, the quintessential American style pattern, is a type of left-turning basic where the man turns away from the lady, leading her to pass in front of him while dancing across from one side of his body to the other. The cross-body position used in the pattern is one where the man and lady stand at right angles with the lady on the man's right side. While in this position, the man moves sideways to his left while the lady moves forward.

As shown in the man's and lady's charts, the pattern turns 1/2 to left overall, but the man and lady turn at different times. He turns first, taking 1/4 turn to left to end perpendicular to the lady -- cross-body position. Toward the end of the pattern, he turns another 1/4 to left while leading the lady to dance 1/2 turn in the same direction, and they thus return to closed position, having ultimately turned the same amount.

The Cross-Body Lead is a common pattern shared by many rhythm and nightclub dances, including Cha Cha, Rumba, Mambo and Salsa. In each case, it is danced to the basic rhythm of the dance. In Rumba, therefore, it is danced to slow-quick-quick timing.

Following the first 4 steps of the Rumba Box (SQQ, S), the man turns 1/4 to left, dancing his side-close action on steps 5-6, while leading the lady to take two forward walks in the same direction (QQ). Throughout these two walks, she remains at a right angle to the man in cross-body position. On step 5 she will be at his right side, but by step 6 she will have passed in front of him. At this point he will turn 1/8 to left, leading her to pivot 3/8 to left. This is followed by a forward step (typically, but not necessarily the first step of another Box) with another 1/8 turn to left.

The Cross-Body Lead can be danced in closed hold, or in open position with a one- or two-hand hold. In open position it is sometimes called a Side Pass. It can be repeated as desired.


Normally in closed position when the man turns to left or right, the lady will turn equally and remain in front of him. To successfully execute the Cross-Body Lead, the man must increase tone in the arms and extend them rightward as he turns to left, effectively turning away from his own hands, to indicate to the lady that she should not turn with him. This is how the cross-body position is achieved. To resolve the position to closed, the arms must then retract once again to the normal position.

Although not necessary, it is popular for leaders to drop the LH-RH hold to chest or even waist level. A word of caution, however: This lowered arm position should not be used as a "cue", in lieu of a genuine lead. The pattern is best learned in a normal dance hold before variations are introduced.

Man's Foot Position on Step 6

The man's foot position on step 6 is described as "Close right foot to left foot, slightly back". It could also be interpreted in any of the following ways:

  • Close right foot (completely) to left foot
  • Right foot back*
  • Right foot back, small step

* Note that in a normal closed hold, if the step is taken back, it should be taken as a small step so as to not compromise the frame. The man's footwork should then be ball of foot. If taken in open position, there will be more leeway in the hold to allow the man to take a back step of normal size.


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