11 Beliefs on learning to Ballroom Dance

This is a slightly revised copy of something written for Arthur Murray Dance Studios


11 Truths About today's Ballroom Dancing

There are some hobbies that are pretty-clear cut, straight forward, and wouldn't be that difficult to weave into a conversation. You know, like axe throwing, bocce ball, or your garden variety bonsai tree trimming. But not ballroom dancing.

Sure, it may describe a style of dancing. It may also immediately invoke certain images of what this type of dancing seems to be about, but chances are, that image, and the mental description to follow, is way, way off. That is, unless you're a ballroom dancer already. So treat this as a quick reference guide for anyone interested in knowing why this hobby is much more than what a non-dancing brain assumes it is.



1. This is Not (Necessarily) Your Grandparent's Hobby

There was a time when "Ballroom" was widely considered as a pastime for retirees. Today, nothing could be further from the truth.


2. Ballroom Doesn't Just Mean Waltz

"Ballroom Dancing" is an umbrella term - it covers a wide variety of styles and subsets, no different from hobbies like Horseback Riding or Cards - there are plenty of variations underneath the general term. Ballroom Dancing is a synonym for partner dancing and social dancing. It does include dances like the Waltz, Tango, and Foxtrot, but also Latin/Nightclub dances like Argentine Tango, Bachata, Salsa, and Cha-Cha.


3. Okay so... It's Kind of Like Dancing with the Stars (DWTS), but...

Okay, so picture DWTS, but tamer, and with more clothes on. That show teaches the celebrity to perform a routine for 90 seconds, not necessarily how to dance.

4. Blending In is Optional

There are plenty of dance students who want nothing more than to just survive a social dance situation. Performance is not their thing, forget about the images and ideas of spray tan, rhinestones, or stretchy clothes. Then there are those that love the idea of the glitz and glamour of ballroom dancing. Fortunately, just like any academic institution, the students are all there with different goals and objectives but share a common interest and studio.


5. It's Kind of Perfect for...

Weddings, First Dance, Father/Daughter Dance, Money Dance, Reception, High School Reunions, Nightclubs, Supper Clubs, Country Clubs, Country Bars, Bar-Bars, Dive Bars, Karaoke Bars that specialize in 80's music. Every music festival, big and small, or just a quiet moment in your kitchen, ballroom dancing has got you covered.


6. All Ages

Regardless of what you may have seen in movies, or transposed from similar hobbies (we're looking right at you ballet), there is no age cutoff for ballroom. In fact, many former ballet, tap, and jazz dancers rediscover their passion for dancing through ballroom.


6a. Yes, Even Kids

We have students that begin as young as 5 and others that pick it up through middle and high school as a great way to build a lifelong skill, build confidence, and make those school dances a lot less weird.


7. Mental Benefits

Your brain is a muscle and doing the same thing every day is not making it any stronger. Enter your favorite new hobby - ta da - ballroom! Research showed that ballroom dancing was the most productive activity to improve brain health. Why? Because your body is doing something active, dynamic, and creative all while your brain is juggling computations for navigating the room, maintaining a conversation, and processing the music input. Talk about a brain workout. Tens of thousands of students will tell you the significant reduction in stress after a lesson is worth all the time and money spent.


8. Physical Benefits

I can't say this enough. Every dance studio has at least one student who has lost 50 pounds or more doing this hobby. In some cases, students have lost over 100 pounds. Why? Because your good old brain does not associate the fun you are having while dancing with a workout. It is an undercover workout. Can't say the same thing for that shnazzy treadmill can you?


9. Social Benefits

Everyone is in need of a community upgrade. We live in an age where we are in a constant state of work, connected to "friends" we rarely ever see or talk to, and neighbors who are just a shade above strangers. Ballroom dancing creates a real social community that dusts off the good old-fashioned social etiquette where greetings were verbal and include a handshake or hug. It takes them several steps further by adding the elite skill of a dance invitation. Lastly, each studio is a composite of a diverse cross-section of life. People of all age groups, occupations, and backgrounds brought together through dancing, and adding contrast and depth to both your social skills and social circle.


10. Personal Achievement

Maybe this is the year, the month, the week, or the day where you've finally decided that life is too short to avoid potentially great things in life and in order to acquire these things, you just have to lean into the fear. No great job is accomplished by avoiding the work and there is no great victory without a worthy opponent - well fear is your opponent. In particular, that voice in your head that has told you for far too long that dancing isn't one of your available personal fulfillment options.


11. Far Reaching Effects

Like any great friendship, conversation, or story - some of the best things reveal themselves over time. Your initial reason for learning to dance may be something as simple as "I've always wanted to learn how to Salsa" but that doesn't mean it can't extend far beyond that. Think of this hobby as an elaborate chain of dominoes - the decision to learn topples the first one, and each successive domino reveals a new benefit, perk, and realization about that initial decision.



Final Thought

Think of features and benefits like a birthday party. There are some that you plan for, the obvious ones, you can practically put them on a calendar and pass out invitations. Then, there are others that are more like a surprise party. The size, scale, and details of the benefits are a mystery. They are unexpected, memorable, and make you hyper aware of more feature and benefit surprises in the future. So maybe you entered your dance hobby with some expected benefits, like dance moves, but chances are, you're continuing because those dance skills unlocked a string of surprise party worthy benefits.


Here are 3 reasons you why should consider taking ballroom dance lessons:

1. If variety is the spice of your life, then ballroom dancing as a form of exercise might just be perfect for you! Life in the 21st Century offers so many ways to stay in shape, but few are as enjoyable as Ballroom Dancing! And not many fitness regimens offer a seemingly endless variety of styles to choose from. Ballroom Dancing is just one type of partner dancing, and there are many styles of dance within the ballroom dance genre. Some examples of the dance styles you would be learning are Fox Trot, Waltz, Rumba, and Cha-Cha. Other dances are Tango, Viennese Waltz, Swing, Samba, Bolero, Mambo, Merengue, and Salsa. Many ballroom dancers I know also love Country & Western dancing, such as 2 Step, 3 Step, Progressive Double 2 Step, Country Waltz, and many more. So many dances to learn! But they are all so much fun, you won’t even realize how much exercise you are getting!


2. Inside each of us is a beautiful spirit with talents and gifts that are unique to our own personality. Intellectually, we know of our own uniqueness, but many of us never find a way to show it. Dance is known as the hidden expression of the soul, and it’s just one way we can show the world who we really are. When you dance, you have an opportunity to feel the music and express it through your dancing.


3. Ballroom dancing is not only a fabulous form of self-expression, but is also an outlet for many people. It offers a powerful sense of freedom while on the dance floor. In Ballroom Dancing, you forget about everything else but the dancing. It allows you to lose yourself in the music and the movement of dance. And just for a little while you can forget your problems.

These are my top 3 reasons you should learn to Ballroom Dance. You might have a different set of reasons. But I can’t think of any reason not to dance! And the good news is just about anyone can! There are so many dance classes and fabulous instructors out there waiting to help you! Sometimes the most difficult step you take is the first one: Scheduling your first lesson! After that, the dancing part is pure fun!

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