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What do I dance at Holiday Parties?

Group of cheerful creative people having fun on Christmas party in the office. Focus is on blond woman.

Around this time of year we see a lot of folks coming in for crash courses in social dance to survive the imminent company holiday party. These days they don’t put a ton of focus on dance, but they do…surprisingly…put some serious thought into the DJ. So we have this great music and great atmosphere…but no dancing. Then we pay a visit to the open bar once or twice and now we’re dancing date night in Denver! So for those of us who still can’t muster up the confidence to get on the dance floor, even with a little liquid courage, we propose a little “one two punch” known as the box step and swing.

Despite what you may think, EVERYONE can do a box step and a basic swing step. These two dances are the essential combo for a great night of dancing at any social gathering AND they come in handy at weddings and other social functions you may find yourself attending. Consider couples dance Lessons in Denver, CO to perfect these steps.

On average, we can get someone proficient in boxes and swing steps in a matter of weeks and have a FANTASTIC time while doing so! Don’t wait until the last minute. Take the lessons, have some fun, gain some confidence at Dance studios near in Denver!

There’s a Swing Dance for That

Swing is a VERY popular dance these days, and has been for decades. However, little known fact, there are SEVERAL types of swing and it is important to know which swing you want to learn before you begin.

Before we even begin with differentiating them, lets talk names….So depending on the studio or where you are geographically, the same swing dance style may be called different things by different people. The most commonly danced swing style is the triple swing or east coast swing. This dance style is defined as “side triple step, triple step, rock step”. Now, I have heard some people refer to this as the west coast swing, jitterbug, or just THE swing. So it is important to know how they’re danced more than what they’re called, because names can be very misleading in this arena. So for our intents and purposes we will be referring to them by their names as we call them AS WELL AS their foot patterns.

Above all, the music decides the swing style. By listening to the music’s tempo, time signature, and general tenor you can get a better idea about which form of swing dance is going to fit it best. If you’re listening to 80s rock then you’re probably going to be dancing a triple swing or east coast swing “side triple step, triple step, rock step”. If it sounds like bluesy, jazzy, slow rock then west coast swing will be your pal, “back walk, triple fwd, triple step”. If it is fast and peppy then it’ll be a single swing or jitterbug style of “side, side, rock step”. Speaking personally, I can probably spell out about 9 different forms of swing alone that I teach regularly, which is WAY more than you want to hear about here. But suffice to say, music matters when it comes to swing styles.

So how do you know which swing dance style you want to learn? LEARN ‘EM ALL, I say. The majority of the swing styles are very similar in framework and steps from one can easily be transferred into the others. The best way to start is with the music styles you like, these will narrow down your initial choice to one or two swings that you’ll at least like practicing because you like the music. Then you’ll become a swing addict that can’t get enough swing, so you’ll spiral into the more obscure swings and then wake up one day and realize that you’re a swing master that must dance through the city shouting your love for swing from every hilltop…or you’ll just be really good at swing and share your sweet, sweet swing skills with any and every one you dance with.

Isn’t that just Waltz and Stuff?

When we tell people we are ballroom dancers, we get a very dreamy reaction from most. The eyes get starry and thoughts of big dancefloors and fancy evening wear flood into their heads. This is usually followed by the spoken regret that they had never learned to ballroom dance, and always wanted to sweep across some big glamorous floor to Strauss.

 

However, that’s just it…. WHEN are you EVER going to be in a big fancy ballroom in evening wear more than once or twice in a lifetime?!? So most people want to experience it, but most don’t because they have no where to really use it, or do they???

Webster defines ballroom dance as “any of various usually social dances (such as the tango, two-step, and waltz) in which couples perform set moves”. According to dear old webster, and we very much agree, ballroom dance simply means dancing with a partner, no one ever said it was just to waltz music 🙂

So when we think about dancing with a partner, the only thing that comes to mind (typically) is the ballroom waltzes and the fancy dress parties. In reality, ballroom dance also means hot spicy underground salsa clubs with masses of bodies all moving to the same rhythmic beat. Despite popular belief, country Two step is not just learned in honky-tonks and rodeo bars, it is also taught in most ballroom studios too (along with 5 or 6 other country dance styles!). One of the most popular styles of partner dance is SWING dance! Not only is swing part of ballroom dance, there are over 9 different styles of swing that people don’t even know about until they get in a ballroom studio and learn!

Should we change the name? Maybe “ballroom” is just outdated. Maybe we need something for the hip young kids to slang around. “Social dance” comes to mind, but these days that usually means a hyped up mob jumping up and down in unison to “don’t stop believin'”. “Partner dance” seems too boring, not much energy in the language there I admit. “Grab a person and find out what kinds of fun moves you can do together to every kind of music out there” is great…but a bit wordy. So for now, we keep the old standby “ballroom dance”, but now we know that there are infinite possibilities in a ballroom!

So from salsa to waltz, swing to country, ballroom studios are more than just places to learn how to waltz for weddings. It is where the real magic happens and you learn exactly how you dance with a partner to ANY type of music!

When do I start my wedding dance lessons?

Okay people, this is a BIG deal!!! The average couple will book their wedding venue around 9 months to 1 year before their wedding date, and will spend 6 to 9 months planning their wedding (some even 18 months, just to have enough time and not go crazy). So most of the time people will completely forget their dance until the weeks before the big day!

I get it, there is a LOT going on, but here’s the deal. Your venue sits there waiting for you, you don’t need to do anything but reserve it. Same with the flowers, catering, DJ, etc. The dance is the only thing that will consistently need your time in order for it to be what you want it to be.

DISCLAIMER!!!! If you are weeks away from your wedding don’t think you can’t start lessons now, we have put stuff together in as few as 6 days. We just ask that you manage your expectations to fit the time we have to get a dance together that you can be proud of. Okay, read on….

So lets break down the two main types of wedding dance and what to expect as far as time commitment:

  1. The traditional slow dance: This is when I usually say “it’ll beat the heck out of the 8th grade clutch and sway”! Most people take dance lessons for their wedding so they are not just rocking back and forth for 4 minutes. Lessons help get you some polish and confidence doing steps that look “dancy”. The instructor’s job is to check your song, your allotted time, and your vision for your dance and make something amazing out of it. This does not mean he’s tossing her in the air anytime soon, but it does mean you as a couple will look like you know how to dance for that special moment. So the million dollar question….how long will this take? The answer is…it depends. How much time to you plan to practice with your instructor? How intricate do you want it to be? What impact will the dress have on your ability to do certain steps? These questions all add up to a magical number that your instructor will work with to give you the best dance they can. The only thing is…none of this is really feasible in a week. We NEED time to learn physical actions like dancing!!! No one, including your instructor, just stepped on a floor, learned a couple of moves, and left confident and sure of their abilities that day. It doesn’t happen. Equate this to time spent learning how to write left handed (or right handed if you’re a southpaw). It would take time and practice to develop that skill well enough to pass it off right? This is no different. Let me also state that we aren’t expecting you to be in the studio 8 hours per week with weekend training on the side!! NO NO NO!! But we do ask that you give us some time to help you be your best. To give the quick answer to a complex question: 3 to 6 months is healthy for a dance to develop and have polish, variety, and confidence for most couples….plus its a great way to run away from all your wedding planning for at least an hour a week!
  2. The dance to WOW them all!! Many couples have it in their head to do some amazing, choreographed piece with lifts and dips and flair that represents their character and personality as a couple…WE LOVE THESE TOO!!! This takes training that doesn’t come naturally, as stated above, it takes time and plenty of practice under the watchful eye of your instructor. These dances can start as early as a year in advance and you can walk away with a pretty amazing dance that will be sure to last the test of time. Your guests will be talking about this one for years to come!! We suggest 9 mos to a year for those special pieces, to have time for proper training on how to pick up your partner, how to dip your partner, and how to transition between each spectacular move with fluidity and balance.

Whether you’re aiming for simple and traditional or flared out and unique to you, give yourself the time you and the dance deserve to be done right. PLEASE!! Your dance instructor, and your future self, will thank you!

How long will it Take for me to get good?

When you come to take dance lessons it is tempting to ask the million dollar question….”how long will this take?”. Well, that is a loaded question. Everyone has their own unique style of learning and retaining information, and this can make it very difficult to determine just how long it will take before you’re the dancer you want to be.

There are three main things we look at when we evaluate the time it will take to get you to your goals:

  1. What are your goals? Do you want to have all the moves and be the smoothest one out there or do you simply want to know a step or two to survive your cousin’s wedding? If you imagine how long it would take for you to learn a language, imagine this is language for your body. You can lean couple of simple “phrases” fairly quickly, but if you want to be more proficient with it then you’ll have to spend some time with it.
  2. How much time per week are you able to dedicate to it? One of the larger factors of determining progress is consistency. If we continue with the language analogy, you’ll probably get the language down faster if you lived in the country where it is predominantly spoken versus using what you know once a year at holiday parties. We know you won’t be sleeping in the studio every night, but we recommend finding a consistent time per week to dedicate to your lessons. Most people with lives and jobs and things will find once a week a comfortable and stable learning cadence that will produce good results in a reasonable amount of time. Also consider that you will fall in love with this and continue learning and evolving with new goals as you go along, so don’t discredit the life long learning process! This is a hobby, not a checklist.
  3. How will you practice what you know? We don’t judge your process at all, so if your weekly dance lesson is the only time you can dedicate to your dancing, we love it! However, for those of you who thrive on accomplishing tasks and checking off the boxes then we really encourage you to get out and use what you know! Find a local dance hall and try out your moves “for realzies”. Every city has a great dance hall or two, and if your city doesn’t, then nothing beats a boombox and a living room floor! Make your own dance party right at home. The goal is to get dancing whenever possible. We have found that most people hit their goals fastest when they learn on their lessons and craft the courage to take it out into the real world!

How do I start if I’m a single person who wants to learn?

Its no secret that taking dance classes can be a scary prospect for some. First of all, the million dollar question is…who will you dance with? This one question holds many back from even thinking about taking dance lessons and we’re here to say NOOOOOOO!! Singles can most certainly enjoy partner dance lessons just as much as couples can, with the added benefit of dancing DIRECTLY with your professional instructor on a private lesson. This means you don’t have to worry about your amateur partner’s habits or hang-ups, just 100% focus on you and your progress!

For the group class lovers among us, things get a little different but NOT any less fun!

Finding the class that works best for you and makes you feel comfortable is also coupled with the ever present concern of not having a partner to dance with in group classes. I’m not going to lie, WAY more women pick up this particular hobby than men so yes, there are times when there aren’t enough partners. The benefit here is that you get to practice your skills without having the distraction of an amateur partner to contend with, while still being in a “rotation” (as we say in the biz) of partners that are switching around the room as the class goes on.

There is also the elephant in the room to address here. Group Classes….you and a bunch of strangers learning something new that requires coordination and musicality and closeness. No problem right? Singles or couples, EVERYBODY grapples with this reality.

For some, the thought that others might be in the room doesn’t bother them in the least. These people usually are the ones who also bring the party everywhere they go and have no trouble getting out there and trying new things. About 40% of the US population are found to be in this category. Here is an interesting article about that if you’re like me and love to look at the stats!

These people tend to do very well in group class settings since they don’t really mind the potential observers or crowds.

The other 60% may fall into a range from hermetically shy to mildly reserved. These people will usually gravitate towards private lessons in order to limit the crowd or potential observers to just themselves and their instructor. However, even in this case, most studios will host multiple private lessons in one room at any given hour.

This concern is so common that we could write novels about this….however for the sake of brevity we’ll say two things:

1) EVERYONE feels this way at first. Shy people think that everyone is watching them and judging their abilities, however it is impossible for them to be judging you AND worrying about being judged themselves. This is next level thinking that just doesn’t show up as often as we believe.

2) EVERYONE is learning. You’re in a dance SCHOOL not a dance competition. If you were the best at what you are doing, we’d be out of a job. You come to dance classes to learn how to dance better. Try and keep the perspective and the rest seems to settle itself!

So to answer the million dollar question…without really answering the question, do I start with private lessons or group classes? The social connections you make when you attend group classes can turn into friendships that last a lifetime and build the comradery that takes away the self-consciousness! Private lessons can provide you with the individual attention a group class can’t give you, the individual attention you may need to become confident and skilled.

In the end, it takes a great deal of courage to step into a dance class and we’re here for you and PROUD of you! Dance instructors LOVE new faces coming to learn this magical thing that makes us all so happy each and every day, and we LOVE sharing that experience with you!!!

Take the leap, group or private you’ll be glad you did!!

Are group classes or private lessons better for us?

Taking dance classes can be a scary prospect for some. Even when you’re doing it with your partner, it can be a daunting task finding the class that works best for you and makes you feel comfortable. Here we’ll break down what you can expect when attending group classes versus private lessons, and we hope this helps make your decision an easy one!

Group Classes….you and a bunch of strangers learning something new that requires coordination and musicality. No problem right?

For some, the thought that others might be in the room doesn’t bother them in the least. These people usually are the ones who also bring the party everywhere they go and have no trouble getting out there and trying new things. About 40% of the US population are found to be in this category. Here is an interesting article about that if you’re like me and love to look at the stats!

These people tend to do very well in group class settings since they don’t really mind the potential observers or crowds.

The other 60% may fall into a range from hermetically shy to mildly reserved. These people will usually gravitate towards private lessons in order to limit the crowd or potential observers to just themselves and their instructor. However, even in this case, most studios will host multiple private lessons in one room at any given hour.

Add to the mix the inevitable mix of shy and outgoing couples that come to dance together and we now have a big sticking point on our hands! One wants the group atmosphere with the social engagement, the other can’t stand the thought of other people staring at them. This is so common that we could write novels about this….however for the sake of brevity we’ll say two things:

1) EVERYONE feels this way at first. Shy people think that everyone is watching them and judging their abilities, however it is impossible for them to be judging you AND worrying about being judged themselves. This is next level thinking that just doesn’t show up as often as we believe.

2) EVERYONE is learning. You’re in a dance SCHOOL not a dance competition. If you were the best at what you are doing, we’d be out of a job. You come to dance classes to learn how to dance better. Try and keep the perspective and the rest seems to settle itself!

So to answer the question…without really answering the question, whether you’re the outgoing type or the shy type, both styles of instruction will benefit you in the end. The social connections you make when you attend group dance classes can turn into friendships that last a lifetime and build the comradery that takes away the self-consciousness! Private lessons can provide you with the individual attention a group class can’t give you, the individual attention you may need to become confident and skilled.

In the end, it takes a great deal of courage to step into a dance class and we’re here for you and PROUD of you! Dance instructors LOVE new faces coming to learn this magical thing that makes us all so happy each and every day, and we LOVE sharing that experience with you!!!

Take the leap, group or private you’ll be glad you did!!