Tap dance, style of dance in which a dancer wearing shoes fitted with heel and toe taps sounds out audible beats by rhythmically striking the floor or any other hard surface.

Early history

Tap originated in the United States through the fusion of several ethnic percussive dances, primarily African tribal dances and Scottish, Irish, and English clog dances, hornpipes, and jigs. Until the last few decades of the 20th century, it was believed that African slaves and Irish indentured servants had observed each other's dances on Southern plantations and that tap dancing was born from this contact. In the late 20th century, however, researchers suggested that tap instead was nurtured in such urban environments as the Five Points District in New York City, where a variety of ethnic groups lived side by side under crowded conditions and in constant contact with the distinctly urban rhythms and syncopations of the machine age.