The Easiest and Most Enjoyable Styles for Beginners

So you want to learn how to dance but don’t know where to start. You’ve considered Hip Hop, Jazz and Salsa, but have no idea which one will suit you best.

If you’re on the fence about whether to choose partnered or solo dancing, picking a social dance to learn first may be a great way to begin. Partnered dancing offers a lot of benefits that appeal to the novice dancer.

Besides being a great way to meet new people, social dancing is, well, incredibly social and engaging. You always work and collaborate with a partner. If you already have a spouse or significant other, it can be a great activity to do as a couple. Plus, partnered dances are less demanding physically and can be a great way to get you into better shape if you should choose a more rigorous dance later on.

Partnered Dances for Beginners

But where to begin? With so many social dances to choose from, you may be uncertain if you should start with the Merengue, Salsa or the Foxtrot.

Before you take on any of the sophisticated dances you’ve seen on shows like Dancing with the Stars and So You Think You Can Dance?, you’ll want to first learn the cornerstone of almost all Ballroom and Latin steps, the “Holy Grail” so to speak, in the world of partnered dances.

The foundation for most social dancing including the Waltz, Rumba, Foxtrot and Quickstep, the box step is incredibly easy to learn and you don’t have to leave your home to do it! If you’re nervous about your first class, you can pick it up in front of your computer, right now, before you’ve even stepped into the studio. You’ll impress your teacher and fellow students by being ahead of the game.

The Box Step

If you’re leading, begin with the feet together. Keep in mind that you need to count in 3’s (or in 6’s if you prefer).

  1. Count 1. Transfer weight to your right foot and step forward on your left.
  2. Count 2. Bring your right foot to meet the left and then slide it over to the right.
  3. Count 3. The left foot slides to right and you transfer weight to the left.
  4. Count 1. The right foot steps back and you transfer weight to the right foot.
  5. Count 2. The left foot meets the right and slides over to the left.
  6. Count 3. The right foot comes together with the left.

The pattern on the floor makes a box. Think that you always initiate each step with your outside foot.

If you’re following, you’ll want to reverse the whole thing and start by stepping back on your right foot.

 Social dancing for beginners

The Waltz

Once you’ve mastered the box step, the next basic dance, the waltz should be a breeze.

Counting in ¾ time, the Slow Waltz, incorporates the box step while you travel across the room in a circular configuration. As you become more proficient, the male can initiate and spin his partner while dancing.

One of the first dances invented where partners hold each other and touch, it was at one time banned in countries like Germany, Switzerland and the United States.

The Rumba

Easy enough to be learned in one lesson, the Rumba is the slowest of the five competitive International Latin dances. A romantic, sensual dance with origins from Cuba, this dance uses a 4/4 meter and is generally done to a slow Latin ballad.

As you progress, you can try the club version that involves holding both hands and twirling the female partner.

The Merengue

Yet another beginner Latin ballroom step, the Merengue incorporates sexy hip movements and rhythmic footwork. This social dance is a popular one at parties and clubs for its high energy and simplicity. Done to 2/4 time, the Merengue is just like marching in place while moving your hips.

The National Dance of Haiti and the Dominican Republic, this dance is said to have originated from African slaves in the 1850’s. Unable to lift their legs due to their heavy chains as they worked the sugar plantations, the slaves shifted their feet back and forth to the beat of drums.

Choosing the Right Partnered Dance for You

As a beginner, you may want to explore a variety of different dances starting out. Try some classic Ballroom and Latin dances to discover which you enjoy more. Becoming proficient in the beginner steps will help you later on as you explore more and more new dances along the way. Before you know it, you’ll become an accomplished partnered dancer.

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