The Quickstep evolved in the 1920s from a combination of the Foxtrot, Charleston, Shag, Peabody, and One Step. The dance is English in origin, and was standardized in 1927. While it evolved from the Foxtrot, the Quickstep now is quite separate. Unlike the modern Foxtrot, the man often closes his feet, and syncopated steps are regular occurrences (as was the case in early Foxtrot). In some ways, the dance patterns are close to the Waltz, but are danced to 4/4 time rather than 3/4 time. This dance gradually evolved into a very dynamic one with a lot of movement on the dance floor, with many advanced patterns including hops, runs, quick steps with a lot of momentum, and rotation.

The tempo of Quickstep dance is rather brisk as it was developed to ragtime era jazz music which is fast-paced when compared to other dance music. By the end of the 20th century the speed of Quickstep as done by advanced dancers has increased even more, due to the extensive use of syncopated steps with eighth note durations. While in older times quickstep patterns were counted with (one beat) and slow (two beats) steps, many advanced patterns today are cued with split beats, such as quick-and-quick-and-quick, quick, slow, with there being further steps on the ‘and’s. It should be noted that there was a 19th century Quickstep, which was a march-like dance and has no relation to the modern ballroom step.