If you’re one of the many people who read my blog, then you probably made the decision to take up dancing (ballroom, social, partner) some time ago. However, it is around this time of year that many people make the resolution to learn. Obviously, I think it’s an excellent resolution to make. However, if you’re not clear about what you want or do not really know what your options are, then you might not find it as satisfying as you’d hoped. In this post, I am going to give you some advice on how to best start learning to dance.
Step 1 - Know why you’re learning
There are numerous reasons to learn to dance: because it looks good, for fitness, to meet people of the opposite sex, because it will make you seem more impressive, because you’re bored, because you like learning new things and so on. They are all excellent reasons and I really can’t say that one is any better than another. However, there are many options when it comes to learning dance – methods and styles. It’s good that you know why you want to learn dance so that you can choose the best options for yourself. So make sure you know now what you’re learning for.
Step 2 – Choose a style
I can’t go over all the styles here (there are too many), but I can go over some of the common options to give you an idea of what you might like. This is influenced by my experience so you might want to also read up on other styles too. Especially if you find that the options are constrained by where you live.
This is the granddaddy of them all. One could argue that it only consists of 10 dances (the traditional dances that we think of seeing in a Jane Austin movie and the Latin dances), but if you go to a dance school that teaches ballroom, then you will probably also get a bit of the other dances too. Certainly this option will expose you to most dances and is good if you like to learn a lot. Just so you know – ‘Ball’ in ‘ballroom’ comes from the Latin for dance. So when you say ‘I had a ball last night’….
Swing is like the other major tribe of dance. If you have ever seen a movie set in World War II and loved the way they danced, then swing is the way to go for you. You might assume that it would be filled with inherently more fun and relaxed people than the ballroom community. In my experience, there is a little more discipline in the ballroom crowd so swing might suit you if you’re a bit more laid back. Or if you like vintage fashion.
We are talking Tango, Rumba, Cha Cha Cha and so on. It also can include Jive, which shakes things up a bit. Looking for the hot sultry style with a range of experiences from the romantic Rumba to the fun and energetic Jive? Then Latin is for you.
Salsa is a fairly popular dance at the moment. So much so that it is a single dance that you can learn at a few different places. Salsa actually took over from Cha Cha Cha back in the 80s or so. If you would like to focus on a single dance that has a lot of life to it, seems a touch exotic and has some sensuality to it, then Salsa is probably the option for you.
Tango has the reputation that has allowed it to remain a stand-alone dance to learn for years. Like Salsa it offers a chance to focus on a single dance and it also is exotic. However, it is more attitude than life and it certainly much more sensual. Nothing will make you feel like you’ve entered another world than walking into a Tango dance studio and learning this traditional dance that has almost an entire culture to go along with it.
Too cool for school? If you are, then blues be the dance for you. Blues has a definite culture with it too. But think that cool fringe American culture of maybe the 50s or 60s. The best thing about blues (apart from the cool people) is the music that you get to dance too. Almost all other styles require music that is different from what you would normally listen to. Blues can usually be danced to most popular music. And of course, it can be danced to the coolest music of all, the blues.
Step 3 – Decide how and where you will learn
There are three basic options for learning dance: One on one lesson, group lessons and video lessons. I actually suggest a combination of the three, but I will go over each separately so that you can decide how you will start and what will be your main approach.
These are easily the fastest way to learn. You have a teacher that you can ask questions of and who will be able to spot what you need to work on. If you want to meet people, then your dance teacher will likely become a good friend. But that’s probably all if you’re looking to meet people of the opposite sex. However, if you’re keen, then take a look here – seducing your dance teacher.
These are the best way to meet people. A good group class will rotate partners and give you a name tag. By the end of an hour you would have met about 20 people of the opposite sex. If you want to take it further then you will need to hang around for the social dancing that should (and usually does) come afterwards and put the effort in to talking and dancing with others. You will need to put some extra effort into talking to others of the same sex before and after class, but the fact that you have just ben in class gives you something to talk about.
This is easily the cheapest and most convenient option. In fact, they can be close to free if you want to use an internet search alone. However, if you buy some videos, then you can be more certain that you get all the details and guidance that you should be getting from video lessons. Below are some that I have used and found to be good value for money.
If you’re wondering which is the best value for money, then I think you basically get what you pay for. Privates are often 4 times more expensive than groups, but you learn about 4 times faster. Videos are much cheaper, but you can only learn so much. In reality it is a question of what else you want out of dance apart from learning to dance. If you let that guide your decision, then you will get real value for money.
However, like I alluded to earlier, a mix is best. I would suggest that you choose group or private based on what you want most. Then get use the other to augment your learning as needed. Then, as you dance more, and work out what you need a god reference for, you can buy suitable videos to help with what when your practice at home.
Step 4 – do it
Once you have an idea of how you want to learn dance, you need to start looking for places to learn. I was rather lucky; I went to a school that was down the road from where I lived. It just so happened that they taught in a manner that suited what I needed. Later I found other places, often via the internet, that taught the extra things I needed or offered the social outlet I desired. The point is that you can likely find what you need by simply conducting an internet search for studios or dance groups in your local area. You basic search engines are pretty good, but you can also look at the online Yellow Pages. Even better, meetup is pretty good too, especially for the group classes with a social element.
When will you see results – set goals!
If you have been thinking about dance, then you probably also have some idea of how well you want to dance. Depending upon how much you want to learn, you should have no trouble being able to honestly say ‘I can dance’ within a year. If you have any stumbling block along the way (timing, being able to move smoothly, remembering steps, etc.) then focusing on the specific issues will help you improve faster. Sign up for a free e-book on dance here; it will help you take on each issue and solve it as you work on improving your dance.
Regardless of whether you take up dance or not, I hope you enjoy the New Year.