Bolero is one of the most beautiful, graceful, romantic dances ever created, danced to very slow Rumba music and counted Slow, Quick-Quick. Unlike the rest of the Rhythm dances, the Bolero basic is danced in a closed dance position similar to many of the Smooth dances.
Cha Cha is an exciting, syncopated Latin dance that originated in the 1950’s, as an offshoot of the Mambo. The dance gets its name and character from its distinct triple, repetitive foot rhythm. This consists of 3 quick steps (cha-cha-cha) and 2 slower steps on the 1 and 2 beats. It is a high-energy, flirty dance and is flashy, sassy and full of itself.
East Coast Swing
East Coast Swing is a 6-count style of Lindy Hop. It can be danced to Jazz, Swing, Bop, Rock ‘n’ Roll, Rhythm & Blues, Disco and Country. It is characterized by an up-tempo, carefree, relaxed style that is easily adaptable to a wide range of tempos from moderately slow to very fast music. Often known as the Jitterbug, the Swing with its fun spins and intricate patterns is a very versatile dance. The East Coast Triple Step and Single Step Swing tend to be very circular in their movements and work more on a 6-count beat basic.
Harry Fox introduced the Foxtrot into the mainstream in 1913. Foxtrot is both, beautiful and romantic, yet playful. It is most often danced to any syncopated 4/4 rhythm. Foxtrot is a great dance for beginners; it feels like a stroll in the park…with some rhythm thrown in. The basic beginner rhythm of Foxtrot is Slow-Slow-Quick-Quick. Higher-level patterns are often danced Slow, Quick-Quick.
Hustle was originally created in the 1970’s as a line dance, but has since developed into a partner dance. It is a fast, yet smooth dance in which the follower almost constantly turns. Hustle is taught dancing in a slot rather than rotation, and is characterized by its 3 count basic step. It can be used widely for club dancing to popular 4-count music, as well as to Disco.
This dance is the European version of East Coast swing. Six and eight count patterns make up this dance, as in East Coast swing but it is quite bouncy with very sharp kicks and flicks. Unlike East Coast swing, Jive is danced to a faster tempo swing music and is primarily for competitive style dancing.
The Lindy Hop is an American dance that evolved in Harlem, New York City in the 1920s and 1930s and originally evolved with the jazz music of that time. Lindy is mainly based on jazz, tap, breakaway and Charleston. It is frequently described as a jazz dance and is a member of the swing dance family. Lindy Hop is an energetic, free-spirited dance that hops to a syncopated jazz rhythm.
Mambo became popular in the 40’s as Americans became fascinated with the exciting rhythms emanating from the Latin countries. As with most Latin dances, the hip-movements are the key to looking authentic. Salsa is the more contemporary name for Mambo, but is often danced on the 1 beat while Mambo starts on the 2 beat. The Mambo gained in popularity and in the 1950’s was taught in dance studios, resorts, and nightclubs in New York and Miami. Mambo is the forefather of Cha-Cha. It also shares many patterns in common with the other Latin dances Rumba and Bolero. Mambo is fun and flirty and socially is a great dance to learn if you like Latin music.
The Merengue is a popular dance of Haiti and the Dominican Republic and is a truly lively Latin dance. It is a very easy dance for beginners. The Merengue basic is danced as a walking step with a step taken on every beat of music. The simple march tempo is easy to hear and feel, and lends itself to a spontaneous, improvisational style of dance. Learning the Merengue is a good way to start familiarizing yourself with Cuban Motion, which is common to almost all the Latin dances.
Night Club Two-Step
Night Club Two- Step, not to be confused with country two-step, is one of the most practical and versatile social dances ever conceived. It is designed to be used with contemporary soft rock (“Love Song”) music. This type of music is common just about everywhere, nightclubs, radio, etc. The rhythm of the dance is very simple and rarely changes from the 1 & 2 count. It’s attractive, romantic, and a real asset to learn since it will be used often.
Paso Doble originates from Spain. It developed based on movements performed by the matadors during the bull fights. In Paso Doble the man (as the matador) is in focus more than in any other dance. The lady is left with playing a role of a cape or a bull, depending on circumstances. The dance came into fashion around 1920.
Quickstep is a lively and energetic dance, characterized by a variety of kicks, hops, skips, lock steps and chasses. Foxtrot and quickstep have a common origin. In the twenties many bands played the slow-foxtrot too fast, which gave rise to many complaints. Eventually they developed into two different dances, slow-foxtrot tempo has been slowed down and Quickstep became clearly the fast version of Foxtrot. The Charleston had a lot of influence on the development of Quickstep.
Rumba, is the spirit and soul of Latin American music and dance and is considered the sexiest of the Latin dances. The Rumba was originally a courtship, marriage, and street dance that was African in origin. The characteristic feature is to take each step without initially placing the weight on that step. Steps are made with a slightly bent knee which, when straightened causes the hips to sway from side to side, in what has come to be known as “Cuban Motion.”
Salsa is danced on music with a recurring eight-beat pattern, i.e. two bars of four beats. Salsa patterns typically use three steps during each four beats, one beat being skipped. The dance structure of salsa is largely associated with mambo type patterns. However, while Mambo movements are typically sharper and more staccato, Salsa is a smoother, more fluid dance. Typically salsa music involves complicated percussion rhythms and is fast with around 180 beats per minute. Salsa is a spot dance, meaning the couple does not travel over the dance floor much, but rather occupies a fixed area on the dance floor.
The Samba originated in Brazil. It is danced as a festival dance during celebrations. The festive style and mood of the dance has kept it alive and popular to this day. Samba is a fun dance that fits many of today’s popular songs that typically have a very distinct bass line. Many figures, used in the Samba today, require a pelvic tilt action.
The Tango originates from Buenos Aires (Argentina) where it was first danced in “Barria de Las Ranas,” the ghetto of Buenos Aires. It is a romantic, yet dramatic dance that combines long, striding steps with close, geometric dance figures. The sultry motion, the stylish look, and the haunting sense of passion make Tango a fascinating dance.
Formerly a court dance of aristocrats from Austria, this is the fastest of the Waltz tempos. With its smaller smooth turns, dancers seem to glide across the floor with grace and ease. The nature of this dance requires both the leader and the follower to maintain a good frame.
The romantic, graceful waltz was born outside of Vienna, in the alpine region of Austria. From the old German word walzen to roll, turn, or to glide, it is a ballroom dance in 3/4 time with strong accent on the first beat and a basic pattern of step-step-close.
West Coast Swing
West Coast Swing is a distinctive “slot dance” using a 6 count basic and originating from the dancehalls of San Diego as far back as 1938. While sometimes referred to as Sophisticated Swing, WCS styles can vary considerably. Modern WCS can be danced conservatively with upright posture, be smooth and warm, or be a funky, hot partnered-jazz dance. While Rhythm and Blues is standard WCS music, it is frequently danced to popular Top 40 tunes. It offers endless possibilities for expression.