Getting Started As a Social Ballroom Dancer
Typically a new dancer will start as a social dancer, attracted to dancing by an enjoyed event with dancing - witnessing a TV show - yearning for more "social" in their social life - or being talked into it by a spouse, friend or relative. A small percentage of social dancers later find that their love of dance compels them to become competitive dancers or DanceSport Athletes. The vast majority of new dancers will remain social dancers all of their lives and will reap many benefits from this activity.
Besides the valuable social benefits of dancing, your participation in a regular program of ballroom dancing will produce significant mental and physical health benefits. Dancing is a great stress reliever. It builds confidence, alertness and a good attitude. It also has been proven to be a great physical benefit as it physically tones the whole body in enjoyable exercise. In summary, dancing will add a new and very beneficial dimension to your life. See “Why Dance”.
So, how do you get started as a social dancer? The first step is an Absolute Beginner’s Group Lesson at PJ’s Dancetique. This is an affordable weekly group lesson, especially designed for beginners and is an excellent place to commence your dance training. Next, consider the Friday Night Beginner’s Class at PJ’s Dancetique. Then, come to the Saturday Night Practice Party. The “low key,” “friendly” atmosphere of these events will put your fears at ease and will provide you the courage and opportunity to get started with your ballroom dancing. You will learn rapidly and will have the time of your life while learning.
After a few weeks of dancing as a beginner, your best approach will be to seek out opportunities to take group lessons at PJ’s Dancetique in the particular dance in which you are interested. Scope out the many Dance Styles, the Calendar, and Events for scheduled dance classes and other dance events.
Selection of Your Instructor
Your most important decision after you decide to become a social dancer is the selection of your instructor. Ask each prospective instructor for a resume, including professional tests and examination credentials certifying the level of teaching qualification attained by that instructor. Such credentials, when accompanied by actual experience in teaching beginner dancers, such as yourself, offer a good measure of assurance that you will not waste your time and money learning things that at a later stage you will need to relearn. PJ’s Dancetique offers the finest dance instruction through Ben De La Vega and his staff. See Ben De La Vega’s Biography.
It is often a good idea to start with group lessons in the American style Beginner-Bronze syllabus. This will give you a basic foundation for social dancing that will be useful all of your life. Check out the various Dance Styles and Dance Syllabi for these dances. The odds are that after you become involved in group classes and witness dancing events, you will soon select a favorite dance or dances in which to seek special training.
Partner Versus No Partner
Ballroom dance includes any dance performed with a partner. However, it is not necessary to have a regular partner when you first start dancing. Most group classes accept singles and you should not hesitate to commence without a partner.
However, if you already have a partner, it will be best that you learn together. You will quickly find that learning to dance together adds an entirely new and beneficial dimension to your relationship.
Private Lessons Versus Group Classes
Which are best? It depends on you and your budget. Private lessons are more expensive but they also provide individualized attention that can greatly speed up the learning process. On the other hand, group lessons are inexpensive and are a good way to try out a variety of dances and meet new friends.
Most beginner dancers find the environment of learning together as a group stimulating, challenging and lots of fun. Also, group classes provide social interplay and the opportunity to both meet and dance with other beginners. We recommend that you start your adventure into the new and joyful world of social dance by attending group classes with other beginners.
Some beginner dancers may feel the need for more privacy as they strive to untangle two left feet. In such cases, a few private lessons may give them the confidence to then join a group class.
If you are taking group lessons and find that you are unable to keep up with the group, if you miss some lessons or are having difficulty with a particular figure, it may be advisable to purchase a few private lessons and use them to catch up with your classmates.
Since group lessons tend to focus on steps and patterns rather than on technique, it is especially recommended that male students take a private lesson every few weeks and use that time to study the technique of movement involved, including how to effectively lead his partner through the figures taught in the group classes. Women will find that occasional private lessons help add style and grace to the movements they learn in group classes.
Some studios and some independent dance instructors ask students to sign a contract for a specified number of lessons with a price that may include private lessons, group lessons, dance parties, workshops, dance weekends, cruises, etc. Just remember, none of it is free and you may not need or be able to take advantage of, or be able to afford, all that is in such packages.
Back in November 1992, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued a warning about the sales practices of some dance studios and suggested that potential problems can be avoided by comparison shopping for dance lessons. We encourage you to do that. To read those FTC suggestions, click: FTC-Dance Studios.
It is important that you not let this warning about contracts deter you from becoming a ballroom dancer. The best approach is to learn the basics of dancing without becoming involved in formal contracts. There are many excellent independent instructors and studios that offer dance instructions on a pay-as-you-go basis with no formal contracts. Seek them out and use their services whenever possible.
Becoming a good dancer always includes three key elements: expert instruction, practice and frequent use of what you are learning. If your training program does not include an appropriate amount of all three you will be wasting much of your time and money.
Take a few minutes each day to practice what you have been working on in class. Fifteen (15) minutes each day in which you focus your mind and body on executing the figures will reinforce the learning process and give you the confidence to then apply those skills in a social dance setting. Read about our practice times and practice parties.
Lastly, it's vital that you attend a social dance at least once each week and put into use the things you have learned. Remember: “You use it or lose it!"
It will not happen overnight, but as you learn and put into practice the things you learn in class, your confidence in your dance abilities will increase and you will begin to capture the joy of dance. Soon dancers of the opposite sex will begin to seek you out and will ask you to dance with them. You will have arrived!
A Special Request
Please copy or email this webpage link and give it to all who are interested in learning to ballroom dance. Urge them to give it a whirl! Tell them that dancing will add zest and joy to their lives!