It feels a bit overwhelming, thinking about attending your first ballroom dance class, doesn’t it? For most social dancers, group classes are their first taste of the world of ballroom dancing… And nearly all of them will be nervous and wanting to make the best impression. If you want to convey confidence and savvy right from the start, you need an insider’s scoop on what to expect.
Step One: Before you go
- What’s the cost?Classes typically range from $5-20 per hour, unless it’s a higher-end school or an expert has been brought in from outside.
- What do I wear? Dress comfortably, with easy-breathing, stretchable fabric. If you have concerns about under-dressing, call the studio or check their webpage gallery to compare with other dancers. Shoes with a small heel (1” for men, 1.5-2.5” for women), and a suede leather sole is best, and well worth the investment.
- What do I bring?A water bottle, chewing gum for your breath (chew beforehand), and deodorant are wise choices. If you sweat a lot, bring a towel as well.
- Do I need a partner? Check with them to be safe, but nearly all studios have ways of making sure everyone can find a partner during the class.
Step Two: On arrival
- When should I arrive? Come 10-15 minutes early, so you have time to pay for the class, put away your outdoor clothes, and assess the community before you begin. Arrive earlier if you need to use the change room first.
- How do I know the teacher is good? Most students look for a teacher who is polite and approachable, can make a class fun without being inappropriate, who builds community with the students, and tries to answer everyone’s questions, within reason. Often the teacher is the deciding factor when deciding to continue with the class.
- What should I do with my cell phone? Put it on silent, and if you must make a call, excuse yourself and leave the room.
Step Three: During the class
- Can I dance with my life partner the whole time? Most studios encourage partners to rotate partners, as it teaches them to adapt to different styles of leading and following, and allows them to meet new people. Furthermore, it ensures that no one is left without a partner for the entire class. If you absolutely must dance with the partner you came in with, make sure you speak with the instructor at the beginning of the class, so they can take you out of the rotation.
- How should I rotate partners? First, thank the partner you were just with! Then, follow the flow of traffic (a savvy instructor explains how everyone will rotate near the beginning of class), over to the next student in line. Be sure to say hi and introduce yourself if you haven’t met them before.
- What if I have questions? Limit yourself to 3-4 per class, less if there are more then 5 people. Try to ask just after a section has been explained or practiced, not midway through (this will interrupt the flow of the lesson). If this is difficult, ask at the end of class, or save it until you see them at the beginning of the next.
Practice the tips above, and you are guaranteed to make a good impression on your first – and second, and third – day of class. Get out there, and happy dancing!