Ballroom Dancing For Beginners
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Ballroom Dancing For Beginners

Ok, let’s break it down into the basics. First of all, Ballroom dancing is an umbrella term for lots of different kinds of parter dances, and they each have their own name. When you’re starting out, you don’t necessarily need to know what all of them are called, but you’ll probably want to know about the basic categories and which dances are the easiest to start with.

International vs. American

Ballroom dances are broken down into two basic categories, International and American. Many different ballroom dances fall under both of these categories, with some variation in rhythm or steps, and some don’t. Keep in mind, these two basic categories are primarily for competition purposes. These two categories also each have two categories under them. International dances may be Latin or Standard, and American dances may be Rhythm or Smooth.

Broaden Your Horizons

So, basically, there are more formal ballroom dances, and there are faster latin dances. Most people who want to get into dancing know which they think the would like to try. But, before you go buying shoes and scheduling lessons, you should know that a dance that really interests you may be very difficult. A more difficult dance would be something your instructor(s) will save until you’re ready to tackle it. The easier ones your instructor will probably start you off with are the Fox Trot or the Waltz, which are ballroom dances, or the Cha-Cha or the Rumba, which are Latin dances.

beginning ballroom latinAlso, keep in mind, whether you think you’re a Latin or a Ballroom kind of person, you will need to learn both. There are aspects of both that the other doesn’t have that will really make you a better dancer. Really, you can’t call yourself a dancer until you’re comfortable with at least one dance of either type.

Are you a leader or a follower?

Okay, ready for Ballroom Dancing 101? Leading and following. Anyone can lead and anyone can follow. I repeat, anyone. This is not a boy/girl thing. It’s just that men tend to be better leaders and women tend to be better followers. Everyone really should learn both. But to start with, just know that there is a soft strength involved with either one. Firm, but flexible.

Leaders need to let their follower know what step to do next without words, and followers need to be able to tell what the leader is trying to tell them. What that means is, when dance partners touch, they can feel the soft strength from their partner. A leader needs to have an assertive strength so the follower can tell what to do next, but it must still be soft so the follower has enough leeway to make the leader look good. Followers must have a firm strength in order to be led. There’s nothing worse than dancing with a limp noodle. But, that strength must be soft enough to be able to tell what the leader wants to do because there are no words involved, here.

It Takes Two

Many followers tend to want to do all the dancing for both people. If that’s you, just remember that you can calm down and have a ton of fun with your leader even if he screws up royally. It doesn’t matter, it’s dancing. You can’t learn how to dance unless you partner is right there with you.

Many leaders often want to either count their steps or look at their feet to make sure they’re doing it right. Well, listen. If you’re thinking too much, you’re not having fun. And, if you’re not having fun, then whats the point? It’s dancing! Let yourself just go with it. If you screw up, great. You’ll learn faster that way!

Remember, if you can walk, you can dance, so don’t let technicalities bog you down. In fact, never look down – always look forward. Now, go! Go find shoes and a dance studio and get shakin’!


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