The waltz is a usually slow smooth ballroom dance as well as a folk dance usually performed in a closed position. The first record of the waltz was prior to the 16th century with a reference to a gliding or sliding waltz. Montaigne, the French philosopher mentioned a dance he saw during his stay in Augsburg during 1580 where the man and woman held one another so close that their faces were touching.
Peasants from Styria, Tryol, and Bavaria danced what was known as the Walzer which was a couple’s dance in 1750. The time 4 waltz was popular in Bavaria and in Bohemia, Austria which quickly spread from these areas to the cities. Even though the upper class was dancing the fad dance known as the minuet, the upper-class noblemen would often sneak in to enjoy the new waltz.
Geschichte des Fauleins von Sternheim a novel that was written by German Sophie von La Roche in 1771 described the man placing his hand around the woman’s waist and pressing her to his chest, which she called an indecent whirling-dance.
There are many different forms of waltz which were performed in 5/4, 6/8, 3/8, and 3/4. Vernon and Irene Castle created a new waltz known as the Hesitation waltz during the 1910’s. The music was fast, but the dance incorporated hesitations which involved only a stopping of one foot for an entire waltz measure with the other foot up in the air or even just dragged gently on the floor.
Mission priests banned the waltz in California until 1834 due to the body touching dance moves. After 1834, a new form of the waltz was invented known as the Spanish Waltz in a closed position, but was done in a specific number of steps instead the gliding that had been performed previously.