On Considering the Ballroom


With the return of Dancing witht the Stars, some will return to considering ballroom dance lessons. This post is dedicated to those who our curious about the world of ballroom dance.

After learning that my wife and I take ballroom dance lessons, a friend asked me some basic questions: Is it hard? What do you need to know?  Here are 10 questions and 10 answers.

Is it hard?
Like anything else, the more you learn, the more one discovers how much there is to learn, thus how little you know. There is a lot to learn over time, but so much depends on your instructor and how well they weave things together.

Is it hard for a couple to learn?
Yes … especially since neither partner know what they are doing. For instance if a single person is taking lessons, they probably dance with their instructor who obviously knows what to do.

What about leading?
Although some won’t like this, males lead, and this isn’t easy! The whole thing involves the male leading with subtleties and the female being able to detect the subtleties. Yes, this takes time, yet each person must learn their part.

What about the music?
Because of the ability to hear the beat, rhythms, and the counts, people with a musical background have an advantage. When the radio is one, I can quickly identify the proper dance for the song played. In other words, all cha-cha music doesn’t need a Latin sound. We have a friend whose tinnitus acts as auditory clutter, thus masking many beats. Nonetheless, she enjoys ballroom.

Do you have to be coordinated?
It helps, but not mandatory. The key is noticing the beat within the song and matching the foot to that beat. Remember, this is not Dancing with the Stars and the aggressive choreographed moves.

What dances to you learn?
Although this may vary from studio to studio, most start with fox trot, waltz, swing, tango, rumba, and cha-cha. In time students may add or transition into others as salsa, mambo, samba, meringue, west coast swing, hustle, bolero, different swings, and others.

Is it expensive?
This provides as early hurdle. Most studios are a business, and not a recreation center; therefore they pay rent, utilities, employees, associated costs of doing business, and also seek to make a profit. With that in mind, think $75-100 per lesson. On the other hand, some studios include group lessons and studio parties in their plans.

Who are the instructors?
Interestingly, dance steps and teaching methods are copyrighted. There are three main copyright groups for dance: Fred Astaire Dance Studios, Arthur Murray Dance Studios, and DVIDA; each with their own certification and use guidelines. Bottom line is that one has to know what they are getting. For us, it’s Fred Astaire.

Where do you dance?
Anywhere there’s music – and people will notice that you know ballroom.

Is it fun?
Absolutely, and that’s why we do it. Given that it’s something we enjoy and we do together, it’ worth the expense.

Here’s the our story about how we got started.

Imagine from Fred Astaire Dance Studios.