This quick article should help to inform beginner dancers or those considering signing up for a social ballroom dance class about what they might need to know to get started, along with some information that may help to dispel common myths about taking a partnered dance class. Information like this can help to relieve stress and anxiety and help newcomers know what to expect when they get started.
Do we have to switch partners in this class?
The big truth on this is to simply understand that in a beginner ballroom dance class, but also at every level of ballroom dance, nobody is ever forced to dance with anyone they don’t want to. Go ahead, read that sentence again.
While it may be encouraged to rotate partners in a learning environment, it’s perfectly acceptable for couples to stand together and simply not rotate when they both don’t want to dance with others. Those rotating will notice a couple not moving, and simply walk around to the next open partner in the line of rotation. Easy!
At most local-level social dances, it’s customary to find a few couples who don’t dance with anyone else but do enjoy the social aspect of the dance and making friends, and many more others in attendance who are there to dance with everyone as well as socialize. Both kinds of social dancers can get along in the same space simply by applying a little grace and kindness to one another.
· There are skill-building benefits to dancing with a range of dance partners to build your lead-follow connection abilities as you are learning.
· If you’ve taken a ballroom dance class where you felt like you didn’t have any choice about partner rotation one way or the other, that was not a good class.
· If you want to dance with more people than just your partner but your partner doesn’t allow you to, recognize this as a big red flag. Ballroom dancing and ballroom dance classes in particular do not come with the hook-up connotation that may exist in bar establishments geared toward a dating culture.
What do I wear to a ballroom dance class?
A ballroom dance class involves a lot of movement so you want to be comfortable in clothing that will allow you to move without binding up, weighing you down or causing a wardrobe malfunction. Athletic wear, work-out clothing, light stretch fabrics and sweat wicking materials are all encouraged.
You might show up for your first class in your regular jeans and a t-shirt, but by week 4 you’ll probably reach for a pair of light casual slacks and a sweat wicking polo and find that much more comfortable. A class environment is a casual learning space, so gowns and fancy spangled dresses are rather out of place. Most beginner ballroom students dance in socks until they want to search Amazon for a decent pair of practice-level ballroom shoes that come with a suede sole made for ballroom dancing. *These shoes aren’t ever worn outside on pavement!
Practice-level dancewear is easily accessible via the wonders of online shopping, but if you’re stumped about what you should opt for, have a chat with your ballroom dance instructor who can recommend options that factor in how the instructor has seen you move and dance and the style of dance you’re working to learn. Dance teachers are most often wide open to provide guidance on the correct gear for how you’re dancing in class, taking into account your unique body type, shape and size, and your dance ambitions. Your teacher is also a good resource in terms of what you can see them wearing during your dance class. Your instructor will almost certainly have great dance shoes, so check those out to see what you might want to invest in, perhaps sometime in the future.
Where would I get to use the ballroom dance skills I’d learn?
The ballroom dance classes in June and July at the Decatur Arts Council will include practice time with a great selection of music provided by the instructor immediately following the class so that everyone can practice their steps and moves to music on an open dance floor. As Decatur grows its social ballroom community starting from these classes there will be increasing opportunities to dance right here in town!
There are also many social dance events in nearby cities within easy reach of Decatur. Here’s some good places to try out your new ballroom dancing skills:
Regent Ballroom in Savoy
Bring Back Dance in Normal
Young Dance in Peoria
For more information on upcoming nearby dance events, ask the instructor as she frequently attends local social dance events throughout the Central Illinois region and will gladly share upcoming events with students to point you in the right direction for good dancing!
Beyond local social dance opportunities, many find good use for their ballroom dance skills at family weddings, at the concerts and live music events they attend, and often right at home just dancing in the kitchen. If you’ve ever chaperoned at a prom, church dance, bar mitzvah or quinceanera, these skills come in very handy.