Have you ever been out dancing, a song started playing, and you found yourself wondering which dance to do? That seems to be an interesting question for many dancers, especially beginning students. If you’re in a dance class or at a studio party you’re lucky enough to hear them state what the next song will be. “We will now do the swing.” No problem there… You’re told which dance to do. But what happens when you are out dancing, and your teacher is not there to yell, “foxtrot?” A song comes on, and you’re thinking, “Swing? Foxtrot? Rumba?” After a minute or 2 it’s easy; you can look around and see what everyone else is doing. If you want to be the first on the dance floor, that’s a different story. There really isn’t one perfect answer for any song (except probably Viennese Waltz, Waltz and Tango due to the specific music for each) it’s really up to you and your dance partner. And teaching that to someone is not easy. It takes time, experience, the ability to feel the music, and develops confidence ensuring you and your partner are enjoying the music and each other as well.
After many years of teaching dance I’ve seen it all. Some dancers will do a cha cha to every single song that is played. And that’s ok. They love the dance, and can make it fit to almost anything except the waltz (different timing) and a tango, both of which have very different music. Dancing in sync to the beat is more fun and natural, not to mention correct.
To become knowledgeable you must learn that certain timing will only work with certain dances. The waltz has ¾ timing; counted one, two, three- one, two, three- so you really want to do a waltz when you can recognize this timing. Listen to songs like “Moon River” and you should be able to hear the 1,2,3 beats. And a tango will become recognizable in time. For the other dances I like to divide the group into latin, non-latin, slow and quick. Generally speaking a slow Latin song can be danced with a Rumba or Bolero (generally very romantic sounding songs), and a quick tempo Latin song will be danced with either a cha cha, salsa or mambo (salsa and mambo can be debated as the same dance, but that’s another story.) Non-Latin songs will enable you to dance foxtrot, swing or nightclub two-step. Slow tempo non-Latin would be best for a night club 2-step or foxtrot. It’s interesting that many songs fit well for both Swing and Foxtrot; particularly West Coast Swing (That dance has taken on a new life recently and is a spectacular dance with as much passion as any of the others). For the quicker non-Latin songs dances that would fit well are the Quick Step, East Coast Swing, Jive, and Lindy Hop. The tempo will make a difference as well as whether you want to travel around the dance floor or not. If you want to travel, Foxtrot or Quickstep is your dance. If the tempo is quick you can depend on the quick step or lindy hop.
You can find passion in any dance, as long as it is fitting the music. Feel It! Move With It! And then enjoy your dance choice. Match movements that work well with the music. If it feels good to you it will feel good to your partner. Enjoy your dancing…you’ll soon find out that there’s nothing like it!