Ballroom dancing is not your old sixth-grade box-step anymore!
Sometimes it’s a special occasion like a wedding or anniversary party, and sometimes it’s a way to have a new kind of fun and meet people to share it with. Whatever the impulse, you’re on the trail to finding a ballroom dance class.
The Image of Ballroom Dance
Television has done much to change the old staid image of ballroom dancing, as have movies. Strictly Ballroom, Dancing with the Stars and the Latin international competitions get caught up in the excitement, glamour and sheer athleticism of today’s ballroom dancing. Signing up for ballroom classes no longer makes us feel like a social disaster.
Dance studios have benefited from our society’s increased interest in fitness for all ages. Some of them offer pilates and other exercises as well as dance. As they always have, dance studios have kept time with changes in dance music. Hip hop, tango, bachata, new swing, old swing, jive and salsa are all types of music people are dancing to. If you hear the music, there’s someone who can teach you to dance to it practically anywhere in the country.
Studios take pride in the competitive titles their instructors win, train teams to compete and provide entertainment, and host master classes and exhibitions by world-renowned ballroom dancers. They reach out to people who need to dance like brides and grooms who do not wish to shuffle or jounce around the floor and those who want to like young singles sick of the bar scene, active seniors, kids and teens and practically anyone who’s not too Type A to admit to the occasional romantic impulse.
Finding a Good Ballroom-Dancing Class
There still remains the question of finding a good ballroom-dancing class. There are several ways to search. Local newspapers and the telephone yellow pages will give you an idea of what is available close to you. These methods may or may not answer your need. Ads tend to emphasize the best of the best, and the mere thought of tripping through the tango in the company of a group of well-toned 30-somethings may be too intimidating to contemplate. If your skateboarding days were, well, before there were skateboards, you may wish to keep looking. Community centers, senior centers and the Ys sometimes offer ballroom classes. Since they are not necessarily business-based, they may be reasonably priced.
The Price of Ballroom Dancing
Price is a consideration and can get a bit confusing when you actually call a studio. Ask for a brochure to pick up or receive in the mail. National chains, such as Arthur Murray or Fred Astaire, provide standardized instruction and fee schedules. They are accustomed to being asked lots of questions and providing full information. They tend also to offer the widest spectrum of dance classes and instructor training. Try to include a national-chain studio when finding a ballroom dancing class. It will give you a base against which to measure local studios or regional chains. Ask them all the questions you can think of: costs, availability of individual instruction, commitment to a number of sessions, parties or mixers or practice socials and cancellation or makeup policies. A national chain may raise questions you hadn’t thought of and provides an overall picture of ballroom dancing opportunities.
Local studios should be able to answer the questions listed above and volunteer any other information you need. If you get vague or gushing answers, you may wish to continue looking.
Visit the Class
Try to arrange to visit the kind of class that interests you. While you’re at it, check the web to see if your prospective studio has a site. With dance, show counts for more than tell. Studios take the opportunity to post both photos and videos of their work, a wonderful publicity and sales tool. On the site, you’ll find out what the studio’s really proud of. No matter what they say about serving all kinds of students, they’re really into bargain-priced Latin evenings at little clubs instead of studio mixers.
Sites have current calendars. If it’s waltz you want, must it be Thursday at 6 pm or never? Class and party pictures tell you a lot, because studios post the best. Are lots of people standing around? You’d be surprised. A site that made much of its fun-fun-fun reputation contained several pictures with a few people dancing and a lot of people just watching! Do people look as though they’re having fun? Are people super dressed up or super not? Most important, are these people who look like people you might have fun with? If they do, you’ve found your class.