The follower usually mirrors the steps of the leader however in some figures the steps may be completely different, allowing for self-expression and improvisation. Because of the very lively music, the overall style is small sidewise steps with relatively steady upper body and no hip swinging, wiggling or jumping. There are exceptions to this rule, but feel of the zydeco is very real and consistent. Zydeco dance can be described as the opposite of swing or ballroom since the direction or feel of the dance is down, not up like swing or ballroom.
The basic step in zydeco takes 8 beats and consists of two mirrored parts 4 beats each. The step pattern is often memorized as "SPSS SPSS", "S" is for "step", "P" is for pause. In the most basic form, there are no steps at all, only weight shifting from one foot to another. The leader starts with weight on his right ("R") foot, the left ("L") one is without weight about one foot sideways. (The right foot of both partners points between the feet of the opposite partner, knees are slightly bent ("softened").) On count "1" the leader transfers his weight on the left foot, followed by pause, then the weight is transferred on the right foot and back on the left one. The same repeats in the opposite direction: right-pause-left-right. Sometimes this step pattern is memorized as "LLRL RRLR", indicating the standing foot for each beat of the music.
After mastering the basic rhythm, one may replace simple weight transfers by very small steps to shuffle in place or just a little sideways or the couple may rotate in either direction, usually in the clockwise direction.
Finally, the lively zydeco music with its accented 2nd (and 6th) beats will force you to do something rather than simply "pause" on counts 2 and 6. Usual "fill-ins" are kicks, toe or heel taps, flicks, brush, etc. with the free (unweighted) foot or a little twist on the weighted foot. These actions are commonly known as "eat-a-beat".