This is the dance which gave rise to the quickstep and the slow foxtrot. It was originally a mid-tempo dance in 2/4 or 4/4 time or 12/8 time (ie swing music) but it can be danced at a range of speeds and to almost any music. When travelling around the room, the Line-Of-Dance follows the wall in an anticlockwise direction. The leader will be largely facing the wall (but looking left) while the follower largely faces into the centre of the room (but also looks left).
Unlike some other dances, social foxtrot figures do not necessarily match up with whole bars of music (a typical basic figure occupies one and a half bars). Also some steps are slower than others - with a "slow" taking twice as long as a "quick". However, the feet are still used alternately.
The simplest rhythm pattern is slow, slow, quick, quick; with the simplest foot pattern for that being 2 steps forwards or backwards followed by a side-close - ie a step moving sideways before placing the other foot next to it and transferring full weight onto that. This pattern of four steps means that each figure always begins on the same foot, left for the leader and right for the follower, and the leader's and follower's steps are not simply the same ones danced out of phase.
The leader steps forwards slowly on the left foot and then the right foot (towards the wall) and then dances a quick left side-close (along the line of dance) - ie a step to the side on the left foot and a closing step with the right foot, putting weight onto the right foot so the left foot is ready to move again.
The follower steps slowly backwards on the right foot and then the left foot and then dances a quick right side-close - ie a step to the side on the right foot and a closing step on the left with weight transferred onto it.
The forwards basic is typically followed by the backwards basic.
The leader steps backwards slowly on the left foot and then the right foot (away from the wall) and then dances a quick left side-close (along the line of dance) - ie a step to the side on the left foot and a closing step with the right foot, putting weight onto the right foot so the left foot is ready to move again.
The follower steps slowly forwards on the right foot and then the left foot and then dances a quick right side-close - ie a step to the side on the right foot and a closing step on the left with weight transferred onto it.
When it isn't convenient to move towards and away from the wall, or just for some variety of dance figures, the slow steps can be taken sideways instead. Typically this includes bringing the free foot inwards and tapping it closed before using it to step sideways in the other direction in turn. The overall timing remains the same as does the order of foot use.
The leader steps side left (and taps right), then steps side right (and taps left) and ends with the usual left side-close. Whereas the follower steps side right (and taps left), then left (and taps right) and ends with the usual right side-close.
To make faster progress around the room, eg to overtake other people, use a promenade figure.
The leader turns the follower slightly to point both of them down the line of dance so that both walk forwards in the same direction for 2 slow steps before turning to face each other again for the usual quick side-close component.
This is like a promenade but the leader also raises the left hand to right handhold to create an archway with the joined arms for the follower to pass through underneath. The leader may also push slightly with the right hand on follower's side before letting go. The follower removes their left hand and turns all the way round to the right on the 2 slow steps before the couple face each other again for the quick side-close component and regain their usual ballroom hold.
It's better to alternate straight promenades with turning ones to avoid getting dizzy!
In this variant both leader and follower turn separately. The leader needs to signal this by turning to promenade but pushing away with the left to right handhold as well as letting go with right hand. The leader will be turning all the way round to the left on the 2 slow steps while the follower turns all the way round to the right. They still need to face each other and regain hold for the quick side-close steps.