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Home > Dance History

The Wide World of Ballroom: A Short History

On Friday night I decided to take a tango class. I was lucky that the teacher was willing to dance with me since I didn’t bring a partner… It was that draw of romance, passion and partnering that drew me there. A few couples came to learn and I noticed how delighted and alert they looked while they perfected their dance together. I observed the couples gazing in each others eyes, and moving in perfect opposition yet in sync. After a few basic movement displays, I picked it up and found myself being swept away by my partner’s knowledge of the language. He knew where to go next, and he knew how to move me; he just required my trust and my “letting go”. There was something so seductive about it: the passionate movement, the trust it required, and the flow it brought. I was hooked…

Tango Dancers

Tango, and Ballroom Dance in general have swept dance lovers worldwide. We see ballroom dancing coming out of the closet, and taken backout for a spin. There is something about the sleek movement, the bright and beautiful costumes mixed with the homegrown factor and the sociability and of it that makes ballroom look so tempestuous yet achievable!

Ballroom was derived from folk dancing and was always defined by the era in which it was created. Historically, ballroom was an un-choreographed type of popular dancing which required a “leader” and a “follower” as well as partner contact.

Ballroom Dancers

Though Ballroom Dancing does refer to any form of social dancing, some relate it directly to Dancesport which is a ballroom competition organization. We have a wide variety of ballroom dance competitions today, all stemming from the originator Dancesport which is categorized as follows:

INTERNATIONAL STYLE

International Standard
  • Slow Waltz
  • Tango
  • Slow Foxtrot
  • Quickstep
  • Viennese Waltz

    International Latin
  • Cha Cha
  • Samba
  • Rumba
  • Paso Doble
  • Jive

    Dancesport

    American Style

  • American Smooth
  • Waltz
  • Tango
  • Foxtrot
  • Viennese Waltz

  • American Rhythm
  • Cha Cha
  • Rumba
  • East Coast Swing
  • Bolero
  • Mambo


    These competitive ballroom styles are well known today due to televised competitions as well as shows such as Dancing with the Stars. This FOX show couples celebrities with seasoned ballroom dancers, who train and perform until the couples are narrowed down to the “winner” of the competition.

    This show as well as a handful of movies such as Strictly Ballroom, Dirty Dancing, Lambada, Saturday Night Fever, Footloose, Shall We Dance?, Swing Kids, and Stepping Out (among many others) caused ballroom to gain popularity throughout the years.

    Dirty Dancing


    Before ballroom found itself in the competition, television/film and stage circuit, it was merely a social type of dance that the general public created and enjoyed. Each style of ballroom dances had a set step of patterns which dance couples freely used in their own freestyle dances. A lot of ballroom dancing found it's way into nightclubs and social events around the country:

    Historical Folk Ballroom

  • Waltz
  • Polka
  • Tango
  • Foxtrot
  • Schottische


    General Latin

  • Salsa
  • Merengue
  • Samba
  • Bachata
  • Cha Cha
  • Mambo
  • Bolero
  • Paso Doble
  • Argentine Tango
  • Forro
  • Samba
  • Milonga
  • Lambada
  • Pagode
  • Habanera

    Salsa

    Nightclub/Other

  • Hustle
  • Swing
  • Lindy Hop
  • Disco
  • Two-step Country
  • Charleston
  • Shimmy
  • Twist
  • Square Dancing

    Country Dancing

    There are so many styles, and variations of styles coming from various backgrounds, competition standards, and the even coming from the nightclub scene. Each style continues to evolve and to be adopted by dancers worldwide. Ballroom was once just that: a room where the “ball” or the dance would be held.

    Ballroom has always been a social and fun way to bring people together as well as create beautiful displays of movement and lifting. Today we continue the ballroom dance craze more then ever and bring it to new levels like history has never seen before. If you don’t “get” the craze, then take a tango class for starters, you might just fall in love.






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