If you haven’t seen Dirty Dancing, schedule your next weekend in and grab some popcorn to watch this classic romantic chick flick.
Originally a low-budget film, Dirty Dancing turned into a massive box office hit, earning over $214 million worldwide as of 2009.
About a third of the film involves dancing scenes, which Arthur Murray was actually involved in teaching the actors. Character Johnny actually tells Baby in the film he received his training from Arthur Murray Dance Studios!
We wont ruin it for you, but the “time of your life” end dance scene makes the movie!
Seven Tips For Latin Club Dancing
Latin dance clubs are increasingly popular in Australia and although they’re often advertised just as ‘salsa dancing’ they might play music from all sources. Once you have grasped the foundations there can be a lot of freedom in this style; Arthur Murray Crows Nest will arm you with basic moves for all rhythms so that you can dance the night away.
Here are 7 tips to make your first visit to a latin club go smoothly.
1. Dress the part
The most important thing is to make sure you are comfortable and able to move freely, so choose something stretchy. You’ll get hot with all that swivelling, so wear something light and short-sleeved. Don’t wear trainers: you’ll stick to the floor! Ladies should opt for court shoes with straps, while men should invest in a pair of leather dress shoes.
2. Hear the beat
Salsa clubs also tend to play Cha Cha, Mambo, Samba, Rumba and Bachata tempos, so it’s important to hear the beat before you move your feet. Your Arthur Murray Crows Nest teacher will ensure that you can tell the difference and have a wide variety of latin moves up your sleeve for all dances.
3.Get the attitude
Prospective partners are attracted to someone who conveys a positive vibe. No matter how scared you might feel, try to exude confidence and you’ll find that people believe you. Once on the dance floor, make sure you maintain eye contact rather than looking at your feet, and keep up that attitude.
4. Watch your space
Latin dancing is a fast-growing trend, so you can expect the dance floor to be packed with sweaty bodies. Both dancers will need to minimise their styling and stick to shimmies and body rolls, rather than big arms and long leg sweeps. Men need to ensure that they only lead their ladies into steps which are within arm’s reach. It’s probably best to stick to a single spin or turn, rather than multiples, and ladies must practice ‘spotting’ their partner (keeping him within sight at all points of the spin).
5. Sway your hips
As you will be pushed for space anyway, focus on the hip and body movements at the heart of Latin dancing. Don’t worry so much about the fancy footwork and let your body just flow with the music to really enjoy the experience. Practice body isolation work in front of a mirror; roll one shoulder and then the other, sway your hips side-to-side then in a figure of eight, and shimmy your rib cage.
6. Do the walk
Latin moves are based on an unusual way of walking – bent leg and ball of the foot first – which creates that hot hip action. You don’t have to artificially wiggle your hips, just practice this movement and it will naturally drive your hips out diagonally.
7. Have fun!
Salsa is a great social dance, an all-over workout and can’t fail to put a smile on your face!
12 Tips For Safe Latin Club Dancing
With so many Salsa clubs appearing around Australia, a night out dancing is a great way to let your hair down and practice all the steps you’ve learnt in class. However, you should be aware of a few ways to keep safe when unleashing your latin moves on the dance floor.
1. The outfit
First and foremost, to have fun you should be comfortable. This means wearing something stretchy that allows for a full range of movement, as well as being light, so you don’t overheat. Footwear is critical; leather dress shoes for men to allow easy swivelling and court shoes with straps for women.
2. The accessories
Avoid bulky watches, long necklaces and dangly earrings that can catch on hair or clothing. It’s best to keep long hair under control too, so you don’t whip someone in the face as you twist and turn.
3. The attitude
You’re likely to be nervous on your first time out on the social dance floor, but assert a confident persona to boost your self-esteem and attract potential partners.
4. The floor
Don’t drink on the dance floor; any spillage leaves a dangerous slippery patch when wet and a tacky spot when dry.
5. The invitation
It’s perfectly acceptable in a latin dance club for either sex to approach the other, just be polite. Don’t grab someone from behind or drag them by the hand – catch their eye, smile, introduce yourself and simply ask for a dance.
6. The response
Unless you really are exhausted and ready to drop, it’s a good idea to dance with as many partners as you can. Not only will it improve your technique, but more people will look out for you in future, the more sociable you are at a club.
7. The dance
At first you won’t know whether you’re up against a novice or pro at a social dance, so keep it simple while you gauge your partner’s ability. Pay attention, maintain eye contact and wear an encouraging smile while you get to know each other. If you find that you are the more experienced dancer, take it easy and help your partner relax; if you’re left floundering, just focus on a good rhythm and stick to the basics.
8. The moves
On a crowded dance floor, you should be extra careful not to bump into fellow dancers; keep your steps small and rely on shimmies, body rolls and isolations instead of bigger moves until you have the chance.
9. The turn
Being mindful of others, if you see a space you should seize the opportunity for a quick spin. Men should lead only one turn and keep their partner within arm’s length. Ladies should practice their balance during turns and spotting their partner to ensure a safe return.
10. The dip
Like a spin, everyone loves to do a dip, but again it’s important to choose the right moment. Be aware not only of other people, but also any tables and chairs which might not be at eye level and can cause a nasty injury.
11. The mistake
No matter how good you and your partner are, at some point one of you is likely to make a mistake. It’s best to laugh it off and keep dancing – you’re out to have fun. Remember to work on the move at your next dance lesson.
12. The break
When you are finally ready to drop, take a break from the dance floor to grab a drink of water. Latin dancing will make you happy, but hot and sweaty too, so be sure to keep hydrated.
Best Songs For Practicing Salsa Dancing
So, you’ve started taking Salsa lessons and have been told that practice makes perfect – but now you’re in the privacy of your own home, you don’t know where to start. At Arthur Murray Crows Nest, we not only teach you the steps, but also how to recognise the rhythms yourself so that you can practice as much as you like, wherever you are, without a teacher telling you what to do.
The Salsa beat is hard to identify, because it doesn’t have one dominant drum pattern that stays constant throughout the song. Instead it puts a greater focus on rhythms. Salsa compositions involve Afro-Cuban percussion based around the Clave rhythm (which has no less than 4 types), and it is this rhythm that dancers tend to mark, either directly with the feet or indirectly, through shoulder movements.
It takes a while to get your ear tuned to recognising the beat as there can be multiple percussionists, a piano and bass, not to mention the vocalist – each with their own rhythm. A quick tip is to fast-forward a track to the chorus, or ‘mambo section’, which is usually the best part of the song to hear the beat. Unfortunately you won’t be able to do this at a dance club, but at least it will help when you practice at home.
Here’s a selection of suitable tracks for practicing Salsa:
1. Yo No Se Mañana: Luis Enrique
This is a lovely song with a nice slow start and romantic mood to really capture the connection with your partner. As a modern number, it is particularly popular in Salsa clubs, so if you want to feel comfortable on the dance floor quickly, practice to this song to gain confidence with it in the social setting.
2. Lluvia (Rain): Eddie Santiago
This is a favourite from one of the major romantic Salsa singers of the 1980s and ‘90s, and is a popular dance for Salsa classes because it is very slow and therefore ideal for perfecting your moves. If you haven’t heard this song in a class yet, try practicing your steps to this great number, which has gorgeous vocals.
3. El Tun Tun De Tu Corazon: Orquesta La Palabra
This is another slow Salsa song that effortlessly provides all the elements you need while learning – you can clearly hear the clave and the ‘pa-pa’ sound in the music, so you can easily hit the right marks. This song is perfect practice material.
4. Agúzate: Richie Ray & Bobby Cruz
This classic song, by the American duo who were famous in the 60s & 70s, has a beat that’s slow enough for practicing beginners, but boasts lots of instrumentation so you can play with the musicality as your confidence and skill improves.
5. Todo Tiene Su Final: Willie Colon & Hector Lavoe
Learn some steps to this medium-paced classic and you’ll find you can often have the last dance, as clubs tend to play it at the end of the night. This is because the title translates to ‘Everything Has An End’. Other great tracks by these legendary songwriters include ‘El Gran Varon’ by Colon, with a long intro to help you get into the faster rhythm and ‘El Cantante’, by Lavoe, which is a moderate-paced heart-wrencher.
All You Need To Know About Ballroom Dancing
With shows like Dancing With The Stars and Strictly Come Dancing hitting our screens year after year, not to mention films like Strictly Ballroom, it seems we are all expected to understand the intricacies of ballroom dancing. At Arthur Murray Crows Nest, we don’t want to bamboozle you, so we’re going back to basics to get our head around the phenomenon that is ballroom.
A little bit of history
The word ‘ballroom’ is derived from the Latin ‘ballare’ meaning to dance, and the term was given to the large halls of 17th century Europe, which were specifically designed for private social dances. Distancing itself from country or folk dancing, ballroom was an elite gathering, often held before battle to send the troops off in high spirits. By the 19th century, ballroom dances were invitation-only events, highly sought-after on the social calendar, and many novels of the time detail the customs and practices of a dance, such as titles by Jane Austen, Gustave Flaubert and Leo Tolstoy.
A whole lot of style
Ballroom dancing itself isn’t one genre of dance, but a collection of partner dances in a wide range of styles. The original dance was the Waltz, and then the Viennese Waltz added extra revolutions. Other styles under the ballroom umbrella in the early 20th century included the faster moves of the Foxtrot and Quickstep. The traditional Tango (not to be confused with the street-style ‘Argentine Tango’) completes the international ballroom suite of dances. However, ballroom dancing also includes the international latin suite of Samba, Cha Cha, Rumba, Paso Doble and Jive, making a core 10 ballroom styles in total.
Although it might seem overwhelming to master all those styles, each genre has a handful of basic steps, enabling the student to quickly get out of the studio and onto a dance floor. Social dance is non-choreographed and a couple communicates through physical contact, initiated by leaders and accepted by the followers. With just a little knowledge and a lot of practice, you’ll be surprised how smoothly you can spin around the dance floor with just a few easy ballroom dancing instructions under your belt.
Fads & fashions
If ballroom dancing was the thing for the elite in the 19th century, the sublime pairing of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in the early 20th century broadened its appeal to the wider population. The rock’n’roll revolution didn’t harm ballroom, as elements of Jive and Lindy Hop were incorporated, but the arrival of the Twist in the swinging sixties heralded an era of solo dance, spilling into the discos of the 1970s and 1980s. Partner dancing however has had a massive revival through the popular TV contests and dancers are now reconnecting with social dances as a great way to keep fit, learn a new skill, let your hair down and make friends.
All You Need To Know About Salsa
Salsa is back on everyone’s mind with the recent release of Cuban Fury, starring Nick Frost as a former dance prodigy trying to revive his career, but in fact the dance craze has infiltrated society in more ways than the latest film. At Arthur Murray Crows Nest, we want you to be comfortable with the latin-lover’s hottest dance so we’re stripping back the layers on Salsa.
A little bit of history
The term Salsa was originally coined in New York in the 1970s to describe a dance which was heavily influenced by styles from Cuba and Puerto Rico and had evolved from other latin dances such as the Cha Cha and Mambo. The name is variously attributed to the fact that it’s a mix of moves, like the sauce it’s named for is a mix of ingredients – the Salsa dance is hot and spicy; or is it simply the word shouted by musicians caught up in the rhythm – whatever its origin, the meaning is the same: fun.
In Salsa 6 steps are performed to an 8-count beat, so essentially there is no movement on counts 4 and 8, giving the movement its quick-quick-slow feel. Choreography is flexible and you can either ‘Salsa’ on the spot, while in motion, or in turn with your partner. Although you can Salsa solo, it is usually a partnered dance performed in a relaxed version of the formal hold where the arms are allowed to follow the movement of the body. Steps are taken in each direction with the toe first on a bent leg; the contrast to the straight leg you step off from creates a natural figure-of-eight hip action, giving the Salsa its sexy ‘sauce’.
Many clubs now advertise Salsa nights, so once you’ve learnt a few moves it’s easy to get practice in a social setting. The key to a good Salsa session is to let your hair down and have fun. If you keep your eyes up and a smile on your face you’re half way there, so be brave and try dancing with several partners to see how different people interpret the moves.
The benefits of dancing are well-known – it’s a full-body workout and stress-reliever and by getting your brain around the fancy footwork, you’ll also improve your mental agility, not to mention your co-ordination and balance. But Salsa is more than that, it’s a highly sociable dance which cannot help but make you smile, lift your mood and spice up your life.
Cuban Fury is just the latest in a long-line of Salsa references in popular culture, with other notable appearances in Dance With Me, Along Came Polly, Salsa, Dirty Dancing, Havana Nights, and Shall We Dance … the list goes on. But other than at the movies, you watch out for the flavour of Latin dancing on stage in the hit musical Forever Tango or on any of the hit TV shows such as Dancing With The Stars or Strictly Come Dancing. You will also find Salsa influences in fashion: short ra-ra skirts and strappy high-heeled sandals for the ladies, bandanas and see-through or sleeveless tops for men.
All You Need To Know About The Cha Cha
The Cha Cha is an expressive and lively dance that is easy to grasp and instantly infectious; the clue is in the title – once you have said, ‘one, two, cha-cha-cha’, you know the rhythm.
If that sounds too good to be true, come along to Arthur Murray Crows Nest for a free dance lesson and see for yourself how easy it is to learn this dance style. We’re sure that once bitten with the Cha Cha bug, you’ll be forever smitten.
A little bit of history
One of the most popular latin dances, the Cha Cha is a relatively new style that surfaced in the late 1940s. Originating in Cuba, this craze offered something slower than the frenetic ‘voodoo’ Mambo, but faster than the sensual Rumba.
Many people have been credited with spreading its popularity: native composer and violinist, Enrique Jorrin made several recordings of this usual beat in 1954, including ‘La Engañadora’; Prado Perez and his Orchestra toured North America during the 1950s, infecting the culture with the lilting Latin sounds; and the English dance teacher, Pierre Lavelle, brought his version of the cha-cha back from Cuba to Britain in 1952.
What’s in a name?
Also known sometimes as the Cha-Cha-Cha, the onomatopoeic name imitates the sound of the dancers’ shoes as they shuffle around the floor. ‘Cha Cha’ is also derived from the seedpods which were originally used as primitive rattles or maracas to punch out the rhythm for participants.
Mastering the moves
Derived from among other latin dances, the Cuban Motion is an important aspect of the Cha Cha, which is the distinctive hip-swivel. This move is formed by a raised hip on a straight leg and a dipped hip on the bent leg. The feet stay close to the floor throughout the dance, with slower steps on the first two beats and a quick, compact action for the triple step, or ‘cha-cha-cha’ that follows.
In addition to having Cuban roots, the Cha Cha’s dance steps bear a strong resemblance to the Lindy Hop, another popular post-war style, which comprises a series of rock and triple-steps. The style swept the world in the 1950s and is still prevalent today. It can be heard in the music of Ricky Martin, Marc Anthony and Carlos Santana.
Try Cha Cha for an infectious change
Getting into Cha Cha introduces you to irresistible music and the dance steps are easy to master. It’s a great place to start for beginners. Although you can even dance it on your own, it works particularly well with a partner and requires a good connection as the dancers synchronise their movements.
The nature of its motion helps you meet others on the social dance floor and, being a fast-paced dance, the Cha Cha will keep you fit. The moves tone your legs through the quick movements and the constant hip action help build a strong core. The speed of this style to the fast rhythm will keep your memory sharp too.
Step out to Cha Cha today
Yes, it’s true: “If you can walk, you can dance the Merengue”
Learning to dance can be daunting for a variety of reasons, but the old adage, “If you can walk, you can dance the Merengue,” really holds true and opens up the wonderful world of latin dance to even the most uncoordinated of dancers. Not only is it easy to master, but this fun and exciting style can quickly make you look like a pro on the dance floor.
A little bit of history
Often considered the national dance of the Dominican Republic, the origins of the Merengue are not as clear cut. One story suggests that the style was created when a returning war veteran, General Maringie, danced awkwardly after his leg had been injured in battle during one of the country’s many revolutions. The villagers who threw a celebratory welcome home party, felt obliged to mimic his limp in sympathetic support for their hero.
The alternate history of the dance is that it grew out of the African slave communities of the Caribbean and that the distinctive footwork resembles the steps of people who were chained together and therefore forced to drag one leg as they cut sugar to the beat of drums. In fact, the original Merengue was not a couple’s dance, but was performed in a circle with everyone facing each other and holding hands at arm’s length.
Originating among the lower classes, the Merengue rocketed in popularity throughout society when it was adopted as a national dance. As the United States took over administration of custom’s house in 1905, the country reinforced its cultural identity through the exhilarating music and movement of the Merengue. It then swiftly spread through America like wildfire and remains just as popular today.
Whatever the truth of its roots, the good news is the Merengue is one of the easiest latin dances to master, making it an ideal introduction for beginners. It’s a ‘spot dance’, which means you don’t travel all around the dance floor.
There are few turns, making it the perfect choice for crowded nightclubs. The basic Merengue step is a small side-to-side shuffle by both partners in a closed hold. Gentle turns and side walking are common features, and the only thing you must be aware of is to not invade your partner’s space. As you master the basics – remember: if you can walk, you can Merengue –you can start adding the distinctive footwork, latin hip action and fluid upper body movements to stylise this majestic dance.
Compared with other latin compositions, Merengue music is written in 4/4 time and is less frenetic, although it is still vibrant and upbeat. As well as being slower and therefore less daunting, it has good appeal to beginners for its clear beat and constant rhythm.
Try a free dance lesson
Are you tempted to discover how easy this dance step really is? Contact Arthur Murray Crows Nest today for a free trial Merengue lesson!
All About The Rumba: The Dance Of Love
As the slowest of the latin dances, The Rumba is great for beginners to learn because once you’ve mastered the signature hip roll and the Cuban Motion of the relaxed, romantic Rumba grooves, you can easily move on to some of the speedier latin dance styles.
International ballroom Rumba is quite different from its 16th century roots, where it started as the sexually aggressive frenetic dance of the black African slaves. The modern Rumba has evolved from the ‘Son’, which was a slower, more refined, version of the original and acceptable to older, conservative Cubans. Although attempts had been made to introduce the modified Rumba to America in the early 20th century, it wasn’t until the 1950s that it really took hold, simultaneously finding favour in Europe, where it was introduced by Monsieur Pierre and Doris Lavelle.
Being the slowest of the Latin dances, the Rumba’s gentle pace makes it easy for beginner dancers to master. The dancers part and then come together in a close embrace and rhythmically move their bodies in sync, which also makes it an ideal choice for a first dance at a wedding. With the focus on intimacy, the steps are compact and well suited to small dance floors. As well as precise footwork, the Rumba is based on the flirtatious Cuban Motion hip action, achieved by bending and straightening the knees rather than swivelling the hips. Although the steps have a quick-quick-slow movement on beats 2, 3 and 4, the dance is fluid without any static moments. It’s an expressive dance where flowing arms and longing gazes can help to fill in the breaks when the feet aren’t moving.
You can dance the Rumba to any slow song, typically with a laid-back 4/4 beat, but it works particularly well with ballads where the vocals can tell a love story to match the moves. Any song, new or old, can be used for a Rumba, which helps make it accessible to a wide range of people of any age and suitable for many occasions throughout their lives.
Rumba on screen
The Rumba was first introduced onto the silver screen with the eponymous 1935 film starring Carole Lombard and George Raft. Raft played a suave dancer in this superficial musical where the couple come together through the mutual love of dancing. Since then, Rumba has frequently appeared in films, including being featured heavily in both Dirty Dancing and Strictly Ballroom, two of the best dance movies of all time. More recently, Rumba (2008) is a Belgian black comedy where two celebrated latin dancers are thrown a curve ball in life with a nasty car accident. Full of visual gags and little dialogue, the film depicts the ups and downs of a marriage.
Why not try out the ‘dance of love’ at a free trial lesson!
History Of Swing: Part 1
Swing music, and the eponymous dance craze it spawned, was all the rage in the 1920s & 1930s. After a brief loss of popularity it experienced a strong revival in the last couple of decades and is now more fashionable than ever.
Learn more about its fascinating origins, before trying a free Swing dance class for yourself to see just how infectious its moves can be.
As descendants of African slaves migrated from the rural Deep South to the urban north east of America in search of opportunity, they took along their own unique brand of jazz.
Harlem in New York during the 1920s and 1930s was a major African-American hub and is widely acknowledged as the birthplace for Swing. Musicians Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Cab Calloway led the new ‘big band’ sound in the district’s famous nightclubs. In March 1926, the Savoy Ballroom opened its doors in Harlem and quickly made a name for itself, boasting a giant dance floor and a raised double bandstand podium, drawing the largest crowds to the best bands of the time.
The music was upbeat and made people want to get up and dance. Then, in the 1940s, swing jazz evolved into the driving rhythms of jump and jive, and boogie woogie, both of which were more frenetic again. These styles, in turn, morphed into rockabilly and the early rock and roll of the 1950s, but were still suitable for Swing dancers.
The move from rock and roll to folk-inspired singer/songwriters of the 1960s and glam rock of the 1970s, put paid to Swing for a while, but a revival in the 1990s saw the return of both Swing music and partner dancing, which remain strong today.
Harlem’s community found it impossible to sit still to the big band swing jazz they were listening to in clubs like the Savoy Ballroom and the Cotton Club. As the music was fast and furious, the dance was made up of high-energy moves based on traditional African dances and the era’s crazes, the Charleston and the Foxtrot. The resulting high-octane dance became variously known as Lindy Hop, Swing, the Jitterbug and the Jive.
As the ‘all-American’ dance took hold in the 1930s, Herbert White of the Savoy Ballroom formed a dance troupe called ‘Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers’. When they were showcased in a number of Hollywood films – A Day at the Races (1937), Hellzapoppin (1941), and Killer Diller (1948) the Swing bug intensified. The dances evolved with the changing music and differed slightly by region, but always retained the Swing’s basic steps and its aerial acrobatics.
What’s in a name?
As people started talking about this new dance craze, which was part-Charleston and part-African moves, everyone wanted to give it a name. The best known story goes that in 1927 in the Savoy, a dance enthusiast ‘Shorty George’ Snowden first coined the term ‘Lindy Hop’. Not long after, Charles Lindbergh’s groundbreaking solo transatlantic flight and a newspaper headline proclaimed, ‘Lindy Hops the Atlantic’.
When asked what the moves were called in the club one night, Shorty George replied the ‘Lindy Hop’, which seemed apt for the adventurous leaps and somersaults. In 1932, Duke Ellington established the phrase ‘Swing’ for both the music and the dance, when he released his classic song, ‘It Don’t Mean A Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing’, while 2 years later Cab Calloway brought out his new tune, ‘Jitterbug’, which lent its name to the faster dance moves.
Try a free Swing dance class near you
Swing is one of the most popular dances taught at Arthur Murray Studios, for its complete package of great music, high energy moves and cardio benefits.
Why not try a free Swing dance lesson at Arthur Murray Crows Nest today!
History Of Swing: Part 2
In Part 1 of this article we explored how Swing evolved and pervaded the American dance scene, but the dance has also had a huge impact on modern culture. Find out more about its role in society and you’ll want to try a free dance lessons and get the bug for yourself.
As Swing dancing took off in the 1920s, the African-Americans who spawned the style started teaching the wider community how to Lindy Hop. Racial barriers began breaking down, but to make a living, aspiring Swing dance teachers needed to stand out as exceptional dancers. Many injected tricks like acrobatic flips into their personal style during public demonstrations to help drum up business.
Swing dance marathons led the depression’s competitive dance craze in America with endurance contests seeing entrants perform non-stop for hundreds of hours in a bid to win much-needed prize money. The famous HH Harvest Moon Ball dance championships showcased the Lindy Hop and Jitterbug in 1938 for the first time. When the event was shown on movie newsreels, the craze spread worldwide.
GI’s travelling from America to Europe during the Second World War cemented the Swing’s popularity during the 1940s and later on, TV shows such as American Bandstand featured teenagers jiving to Elvis Presley, Little Richard and Chuck Berry, continuing the craze for a new generation.
Films such as Swing Kids (1993) and Swingers (1996) and the fabulous Gap commercial in 1998 featuring Lindy aerials, all prompted a revival in Swing dancing in its many guises. Some purists dance only the Lindy, while others mix all the variations but a certain form can be seen throughout all Swing styles.
Descending from the Charleston, which was traditionally a side-by-side dance, Swing evolved to alternate between an open and closed position as the couple push away from each other before snapping back together like a rubber band. The footwork includes a rock step, ball change, twist and back step to facilitate this elasticity.
The overall movement is reminiscent of the style’s African roots as the whole body is used, not just the legs and arms. The frame is bent forward in a wide solid stance, rather than upright. Swing uses lots of improvisation and personalisation, as in African dancing, and elements of friendly competition and one-upmanship is actively encouraged in the Swing dance community. However, most aerial lifts and acrobatics are only seen in performance dances as they are too dangerous to attempt on the social dance floor.
Swing is one of the best ways to let your hair down and many people dress-up for a social dance. Men might wear high-waisted wide-legged pants with a button through shirt, but don’t be surprised if you see someone wearing a flash ‘zoot’ suit of the era. ‘Spectators’ are two-toned leather shoes perfect as part of the Swing ‘costume’. The toe and heel are dark colour (typically black) with the rest of the shoe in a lighter colour (usually white). If you don’t want to dress up, just remember the basics for enjoyable dancing, of comfortable, lightweight loose clothing and leather shoes.
Women can also have great fun dressing up in knee-length full skirts (petticoat optional), just remember to wear shorts in case your skirt flies up in a spin! Heels should be low enough to be able to dance properly, with lace-up or strappy shoes the best option for avoiding your shoes flying off with your kicks and flicks. Avoid jewellery which can catch on you or your partner as you twirl, and tie long hair back for the same reason.
Part of Swing’s appeal is the lack of an intimate hold compared to many other partner dances, and so it lends itself well to the social dance floor. The whole ethos is to have fun and let yourself go, so if someone asks you to dance, just go for it.
If you find a partner who is more experienced than you are, don’t be intimidated as basic steps can be easily paired with flashier versions, however usually the better dancer will meet your level or even encourage you to be more adventurous.
Try a free Swing dance lesson
Swing is perfect for beginner dancers or those returning to dance classes to try a new style. We’d love you to try a free class – simply register online to take a private lesson at the Arthur Murray Crows Nest Dance Studio today.
All You Need To Know About the Waltz
Considered graceful and elegant today, when the Waltz first emerged among the peasants it was considered raucous and racy by the upper classes. Looking back at its history, we see how this beautiful dance has evolved over the years.
Where in the world
References to a gliding or sliding dance date back to the 16th century, but it wasn’t until the Bavarian peasants started dancing the Waltz during the 18th century that it gained popularity. The name is derived from the German “walzen”, which means to roll, and the dance is based on a never-ending series of turns.
Previously accustomed to group dances, the stiff upper classes and conservative Brits were reluctant to accept this scandalous style due to its intimate embrace between 2 people. Despite being frowned upon, the dance gained credibility and became fashionable in Paris after the Napoleonic Wars. Even though it was still being described as “riotous and indecent” as late as 1825, the Waltz went on to become a favourite of Queen Victoria.
What’s in a Waltz
The romantic floating motion of the Waltz consists of a steady three-step move to a one-two-three beat: forward or back, side and close. Once you have the rhythm, you can add the turns using the same steps, its simplicity makes it an easy dance to learn. Maintaining the correct hold, and mastering both the rise and fall and the swing and sway without gapping, is enough of a challenge to keep you on your toes for a long time. Having perfected the basics, you will find plenty of complexities to keep it interesting, or you can try a variation such as the high-speed whirling of the beautiful Viennese Waltz.
It’s all in the hold
The Waltz is defined by its closed hold where the man and woman face each other, slightly offset, pressing their right-hand sides together. The man wraps his arm around his partner and the woman leans back to create some distance between the two heads. This strict posture will help you build a strong core, as well as challenging your sense of balance and control in the spins.
The lilting music used for a Waltz has a steady beat in 3/4 time, with a strong first beat, and is typically relatively slow allowing the grace of the style to flow freely. Classical music is particularly suitable, something like Tchaikovsky’s The Sleeping Beauty, while old school tunes such as Moon River and What a Wonderful World or modern melodies like Elton John’s Can You Feel The Love Tonight are equally good.
If you’re new to dancing, this simple yet romantic classic is perfect for beginners, and you don’t even need a partner – just come along to one of our classes to try it out for free yourself. We’re sure you’ll fall in love with this elegant dance and will be back for more.
All You Need to Know About Latin Dancing
The phrase ‘latin dancing’ conjures up images of fast, furious steps with unbridled passion, but there is more to this genre of dancing than meets the eye as it spans a multitude of specialties.
What’s in a name?
Latin dancing covers a whole range of styles born by the indigenous people of Central & South America, but over the years the influences come from further afield such as Europe – namely Iberia – the Caribbean and Africa. Whatever its roots are, latin dancing is typified by freedom, self-expression and rhythm.
Who can do Latin?
Often referred to as the dance of love, the sensual latin numbers can be a little off-putting to people uncomfortable with being intimate with a stranger, but not all of the latin dances require such close contact and partners are often barely holding hands in the faster numbers. In fact, latin is predominantly about letting go and enjoying yourself (Salsa is one of the most popular social dances). You are never too young or old to learn latin, and as they say, “if you can walk, you can Merengue.”
Taking up latin dancing at any age will undoubtedly change you for the better, and you’ll get fitter, tone up, relax, enjoy yourself and improve your confidence as you master the steps and rhythm. With fast footwork and plenty of body isolations you will see the pounds drop off and muscles bulge before too long. Not only are latin dances an excellent all-over workout, but they are an easy way to incorporate dance into your social calendar with Salsa clubs springing up all over Australia.
Feel the rhythm
Latin music is as varied as the dances, and Salsa clubs tend to also play music with a Cha Cha, Mambo, Samba, Rumba and Bachata tempo, so it’s worth taking the time to hear the beat before you move your feet. Whichever style you choose, your Arthur Murray Crows Nest teacher will help you tell the difference so you can select the right latin moves for each tune.
While you should wear something stretchy and lightweight for dancing, you can indulge in some of the fashions made popular by the latin culture. Skirts with several short layers, such as the 1980s ra-ra skirt or the more modern ruffle mini-skirt, emphasise the sway of the hip action. Alternately, the South American style has influenced the recent trend for asymmetrical lines and you could wear one-shouldered tops and dresses, v-shaped hemlines and waterfall skirts. Just remember to avoid big accessories which can catch on hair or clothing, and keep long locks under control as you twist and turn.
Many latin styles rely on mastering the Cuban Motion which is the ubiquitous figure-of-eight hip action, but other common isolations include shimmies, shakes and body rolls, so latin gives you a whole body workout.
The Wonders Of Waltz
Traditional and timeless, the Waltz is often overlooked as being confined to the older generation and is taken for granted as a staple of ballroom dancing. At Arthur Murray, we celebrate the many and varied benefits of learning the Waltz and encourage all dancers to give the classic discipline a whirl.
If you can master the frame for the Waltz, it will set you in good stead for all the other ballroom styles. The key to sticking together like glue from the waist down is to make sure you’re slightly offset, connecting on your right hand sides; the man should stand upright, while the woman arches her body and turns her head away to create the beautiful image of a flower in a vase. When the dance was first presented during the 18th century, it was considered scandalous due to the intimate embrace, but this hold will give you a core of steel, as well as challenging your sense of balance in the spins.
Due to the speed of the Waltz – before you even progress to the Viennese Waltz – you’ll move your feet approximately 90 times per minute. The continuous shift of weight and the resistance of movement will increase your cardiovascular health in no time. If you dance 3 times a week, you should see real improvement in 6 to 8 weeks, and a study back in 2006 showed that it was just as effective as working out on the treadmill – and way more fun!
While the simplicity of the Waltz makes it an easy dance to learn, mastering it is another matter altogether. Concentrating on your footwork, perfecting both the rise and fall and the swing and sway of the style, as well as reading body language cues from your partner leaves little room in your mind to worry about other things. Learning the Waltz can help your cares melt away, freeing the day’s stress from your body and leaving you a more relaxed person.
Tune in & tone up
With the triple step movement performed to a 3-4 beat, the body is challenged throughout the dance to stay upright, let alone in the right position. Your muscles will pull against each other and so become lean and taught without the need for repetitive gym work, and the weight will simply fall off your frame. When you add spins and turns, you’re creating further tension within the core, which is already working overtime to maintain the frame, thus creating a fantastic all-round workout.
Make a connection
Whether you are dancing with your life partner, trying the class as a first date or single and out to meet someone new, the Waltz is the perfect way to reach out and connect with someone. Not only is it the most romantic of dances, but the hold is intimate and the style is so classically elegant it will soften even the toughest of nuts.
If you’re new to dancing, this simple yet complex classic is perfect for beginners as you can quickly grasp the steps and then make it as difficult or easy as you choose. You don’t need a partner – just come along to one of our classes to try it out for FREE to yourself.
Latin Dance Styles 101
Latin dancing is considered one of the sexiest dance styles in the world – it’s intimate, fast, sensual and involves a lot of eye contact, but it’s not nearly as intimidating as many people believe!
In fact, the latin dance genre is as wide as it is old (it dates back to the 16th century) and is full of moves that are suited to dancers who want to have lots of fun while they move around the dance floor.
While each style of latin dance is different, there are many crossovers that mean dancers are able to move from one to the other with ease. But you’ve got to start somewhere, so let’s take a closer look at the different styles of latin dance…
Salsa is undoubtedly the most popular form of partnered dancing in the world, thanks to the wide variety of moves and the fact that it’s well suited to nightclubs and live music venues – making it the ideal style to learn if you’re looking to show off your moves across town. It’s a fast dance style that involves the shifting of your weight through steps, holding your upper body mostly still, although there are arm movements involved, especially during spins.
Salsa is an ever-evolving style of dance and has incorporated many other dance styles into itself over the years.
Originating in the late 1880s along the Argentinean & Uruguayan border, the Tango is a fusion of European & African dance steps that were popular among the lower socio economic groups. It’s a very sensual dance involving the connection of body parts between partners (either chest or thighs/hips) and is a great dance to learn with your husband or wife to bring a new kind of spark to your relationship.
Rhumba, or Rumba, is a style of ballroom dancing that officially dates back to the 1930s when conductor Don Azpiazu and his orchestra recorded the first Rhumba song in New York City. The single went on to be a number one hit and was a (successful) attempt to adapt Cuban music into a style of ballroom dancing.
There are two variations of the steps involved in Rhumba, one being a slow-quick-quick step and the other being a quick-quick-slow step. It’s a slower style of dance than Salsa or Merengue and the steps are quite compact with very little rise and fall. If you’re looking for a twist on classic ballroom, Rhumba might be the right dance for you.
Not to be confused with the base of a pavlova, Merengue is a Dominican style of dance where partners stand close together and bend their knees slightly left to right to make their hips move left to right.
According to Dominican folklore, some of the movements in Merengue originated from the way enslaved beet labourers would drag their chained ankles in the fields. While the music typical of Merengue is frenetic, the movements are relatively slow and can be picked up by beginners with ease.
The Cha Cha hails from Cuba and starts on the second beat of the song, hence the count ‘two three cha cha cha’ that you often hear in dance movies. It involves hip swaying along with the basic steps, which are not too distant from Salsa’s basic steps.
The steps are quite quick, especially when considered next to the slower-style songs the Cha Cha is often danced to, and is a style of dance you can do without a partner, although we recommend partner dancing while you learn the basic steps.
If you’re interested in getting in touch with a more exotic side of yourself, why not step into the Arthur Murray Crows Nest Studio and learn the sensual stylings of latin dancing!