May I have this dance?
Updated: Feb 15, 2021
If you're anything like me, you want to answer that question with an enthusiastic 'YES!'
But alas, too often the answer is 'I don't think I know that dance'. Over the course of an evening the band or DJ are likely to play a variety of songs. Some fast, some slow, some up-beat, some down-beat, some rock'n, some swaying. The most fun you can have during a social dance night is out on the dance floor.
How will I remember the steps if I'm learning multiple styles though?
It may feel a little overwhelming at first when you try to learn more the one or two dances a the same time. Maybe you even feel that spending time learning the Swing is taking time away from perfecting your Tango. What really helped me feel confident to start learning multiple dances was the interrelated system. Whats that? The interrelated system is a teaching method that great dance teachers use to help their students relate steps or skills that they have learned in one dance with the same or similar action in another dance.
How does the interrelated system work?
Let's take the basic action of the Bachata: Side-together-side. Great! you've learned how to dance the Bachata, you can dance side-together-side dancing to the right and dancing to the left. You can even dance the steps with some hip motion and have learned how to perform turns. Oh no! the band finishes playing Bachata music and the next song is a Cha Cha. No need to panic, using the interrelated system, your teacher has shown you how the Cha Cha uses the same side-together-side motion. All you needed to learn was an addition rock step and you were off and Cha Cha dancing. Even some of the turns and hip actions were transferable across the different dances. Voila!
How many different dances should I learn?
There is no fixed number, but many dancers consider the following dances to be a must for weddings, parties, anything: Waltz, Cha Cha, Tango, Rumba, Fox Trot and Swing. These six dances cover a wide range of musical genres and tempos and are always popular were couple dancing is taking place. Even within this range of dances, the interrelated system is working hard to help you learn quickly and easily. The box step may be a classic pattern from the Waltz but it can also be danced in the Rumba and Fox Trot. Beyond these, you can talk to a dance professional to get guidance for which styles you should learn based on where you want to take your dancing. Want to enjoy rock bands at your local? Consider adding West Coast Swing. Fancy dancing under the bridges of Paris? Argentine Tango is the next dance to learn. Want to try the cities latin night spot? Salsa & Bachata are fun additions to your repertoire.
Even having a working knowledge in some of the extra dances means that you never have to say no when asked the question "May I have this dance?".