Cha-Cha, Waltz, Rumba, Merengue, Foxtrot, Salsa, Tango, Swing, and Hustle: These are most likely all the dances that you have seen or danced at parties, showcases, or competitions. If you are a longtime student at a dance studio, it would make sense that you would know the six core dances since they are the most requested and are considered essential. In addition, you might also be familiar with a bit of Merengue, Salsa, and Hustle, as these are popular nightclub dances. However, these nine dances are not the only ones that you can have fun with. Obviously, there are many other ballroom dances, but some are better equipped for social events than others. Even though the dances we are about to review may not be showcased as often at a typical party, it doesn’t make them any less exciting. Many of these are easy to learn, as well. So, next time you go out, you may feel inspired to get on the dance floor and try a few moves from the following dances:
Nightclub Two Step
The Nightclub Two Step is actually a fairly popular form of contemporary social dance. It was developed by Buddy Schwimmer in the mid-60s when he was 15 years-old. It originally came from a line dance called the “Surfer Stomp”. This line dance was done to fast-paced music, but to make the dance work with slow-medium music, instructors changed the time and made the Surfer Stomp into a partner dance. This dance is typically danced to mid-tempo pop-ballads that are in 4/4 time. The rhythm is also similar to that of Rumba (“quick, quick, slow”). It is sometimes seen as a good replacement for Rumba – many ballads are slow, but not quite slow enough for a comfortable Rumba, so this is where the Nightclub Two Step comes in! The footwork consists of long sweeping movements and tiny rock steps that make it a relaxed, playful, and easy dance. Next time you go to a wedding or club, you can try the Nightclub Two Step when those romantic pop songs are played!
The Bachata is a dance that originated in the Dominican Republic. It is commonly known as a dance in which couples step from side to side, moving their hips. Bachata music also has its own distinct style which usually consists of guitars and various kinds of percussion. The dance can be done in open, semi-closed, or closed position. Unlike Salsa, there are not very many turn patterns. In fact, dancers will often copy moves from other partner dances and incorporate them into Bachata, making it something that is easy to learn and perform. Like Merengue, the basic steps of Bachata are simple: dancers take three steps to the side, add a little tap step or hip “pop”, and repeat on the other side. The fun music, easy-to-follow steps, and hip movements make this a very enjoyable dance to do when Bachata music is played at parties.
You may know a few patterns from the Viennese Waltz, but it’s probably not a dance you do every time you attend a party. Its speed and complexity make it hard to be considered a social dance where partners can relax and actually socialize on the floor. Instead, people often dance the slower, American-style Waltz which is more common. Even though the slow version is slightly more popular, the Viennese Waltz is actually the original form of Waltz. In fact, it was the first ballroom dance performed in a closed hold and is the oldest of current ballroom dances. The fast and graceful dance is usually done at 180 beats per minute (while a typical slow Waltz is 90 bpm). It’s a dance that rotates much more than the slow Waltz; the only time the dancers aren’t turning is when they are doing figures that keep them in one spot on the floor. Viennese Waltz may be very fast, but it is still extremely graceful. Whenever a song comes on that seems too fast for a slow Waltz, you can try out this dance!
This ballroom dance evolved as a variation of the fast Foxtrot in the 1910s/1920s. The Peabody got its name from a New York police officer who loved to dance fast Foxtrots, but couldn’t hold his partner directly in front of him because of his girth. As a result, he held her on his right side in a promenade-like position. The unusual dance position eventually led to unique steps and floor patterns. Overall, the Peabody is a very brisk dance that covers a lot of space on the floor and is typically danced to ragtime music. You may not see the Peabody danced as often, but it is done at many ballroom competitions and showcases around the world. Even though it was more of a popular nightclub dance in the ragtime era, it is still a fun and lively one to watch and perform today.
This is another lighthearted, fast, and powerful dance that emerged from the 1920s. It developed as a combination of slow Foxtrot, Peabody, and Charleston. The Quickstep is full of dynamic movements and advanced patterns including hops, runs, quick footwork, and rotations. The music for Quickstep is usually very fast with a jazzy or big-band feel. Even though the dance moves at a quick pace, it should still look elegant, smooth, and glamourous like the Foxtrot. Dancers always appear light on their feet, yet very energetic. Just watching it can make you feel tired! If you are used to American smooth dances, you may not see this one as often because it is only danced in International ballroom. If you do get the chance to see a Quickstep performance or learn it yourself, it is definitely worth it!
The Rumba doesn’t have to be your only go-to romantic dance. Bolero is also a slow-paced Latin/rhythm dance that can be done to slow, romantic music. In the western world, this dance is usually done in 4/4 time between 96 and 104 bpm. It is a very unique rhythm dance because not only does it require Cuban motion, but it also includes rises and falls and contra body movement like in Waltz. All of these elements definitely make Bolero a sensual and dreamy dance that can be done whenever you come across a song that is too slow to be a Rumba. In addition to being romantic, it is also a lot of fun. There are slight gliding motions in the dance that give you even more of a “Waltz-like” feeling!
Happy Dancing! ^_^