The Turkey Trot first made popularity in the 1900's. The Turkey Trot was done to fast ragtime music which was popular in the time period from 1900 to 1910. Scott Joplin's Maple Leaf Rag is just one type of music the trot was danced to. Around 1914, the Turkey Trot's popularity began to wane as the Foxtrot became the dance of the day.
The Vatican denounced the Turkey Trot, causing the dance to achieve popularity. The Vatican contended the positions and moves made by the dancers were far too suggestive and demoralizing. Conservative members of society attempted to get the dance banned at public functions, which again, raised its popularity. Some have claimed the Turkey Trot came from Middle America in the 1860's, while dance historians contend the dance originated in 1909, in San Francisco.
Disapproval of the dance led to news reports of guilty dancers being fined, claiming the Turkey Trot they were doing was disorderly conduct. Fifteen girls were caught on their lunch break doing the dance and were fired from their jobs. In another incident, young women found guilty of doing the dance were sentenced and made to serve 50 days in jail. Irene and Vernon Castle increased its popularity by dancing the Turkey Trot in the Broadway show "The Sunshine Girl".
The Turkey Trot's basic steps included hopping sideways for four steps, while the feet are far apart, first on one leg, then the other with a rise up on the ball of the foot, then followed by dropping down on the heel. The dance was made more flamboyant with scissor like flicks of the feet and abrupt stops, followed by fast trotting actions. The Turkey Trot was not considered a graceful dance, but it was danced face to face and not side by side like other dances of the same era. This dance was considered fun to perform and was done to upbeat music that made you want to move your feet. Also, the average dancer could easily master the moves and steps, quickly.