Tag Archives: Fred Astaire

More on ballroom dancing

An RKO publicity still of Astaire and Rogers d...
An RKO publicity still of Astaire and Rogers dancing to “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” in Roberta (1935) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

No, not moron ballroom dancing, although that’s what I sometimes feel like when learning new steps.

I wanted to follow up on my original post with some additional thoughts on the hobby we started two years ago to celebrate our 25th anniversary.

We take lessons several times a week (they have group classes nightly from Tuesday through Saturday and we take at least one private lesson per week) and venture out at least a month.  Our favorite place is in the Heights where they have big band music and a variety of dances.  It is a great deal — only $11 per person and you can bring your own snacks and drinks.

We are taking at a Fred Astaire studio close to our house.  We’ve been really pleased with the instructors.  Very thorough and friendly.  If you tell them we referred you it is only $25 for a startup package with two private lessons and one group lesson (and they give us a free lesson). It is $50 without a referral.

One tip that could really help you: Once you’ve learned a step, make a video from your camera phone of your instructor showing your partner.  Then you can watch the steps and know you are practicing it correctly.  There have been many times when I thought I remembered it correctly but ended up practicing the wrong thing, which takes twice as long to un-learn then re-learn.

Also – and I realize this goes in the Captain Obvious category — it makes a huge difference if you practice new figures.  It doesn’t have to be a lot of time, just a few minutes on a couple occasions as close to when you learned the steps as possible.

And note that dancing makes you smarter!  Seriously, a New England Journal of Medicine discovered that something about the rapid-fire decision making involved in some forms of dancing has a profoundly more significant impact on reducing dementia than other forms of exercise, and even twice as much as reading.

Mary left this fantastic comment on the last post:

I just got back from a ballroom dance party. Love it! It’s good exercise, fun, mentally stimulating, expressive, and it makes me happy. :)

It also teaches me a lot about the Christian marriage dynamic. In ballroom dancing, as in Christian marriage, the man leads, and the woman follows his lead. They work together as a team, both being equally important and necessary to the dance, but with distinct roles. The man needs to lead gently, but firmly, making his intentions clear and doing his best to bring the best out of his dance partner. The woman follows the man’s leading, being sensitive to what direction he is taking her in and going with the flow of the movement he initiates. Much courtesy and grace is needed from both parties. Both will make mistakes. The key to getting the best out of one’s dance partner is encouragement for what they do right, coupled with diplomatic suggestions for improvement. Without the encouragement, the suggestions for improvement don’t go down as well. If one party gets the dance completely wrong, the other party has to stop them and gently indicate what it should be. Sometimes, there are times when the man gets the timing wrong. The woman can help him with the timing. But at other times it’s best to just keep going with the beat in his head. It feels frustrating sometimes but it works out better than struggling with your dance partner.

I’m single, but the above looks a lot like the Christian marriage dynamic to me.

I’ve used that illustration when teaching passages about Christian marriage, such as Ephesians 5.  Anyone who has danced realizes how chaotic it would be if there was no official leader.  Yet the notion that you are competing with your partner is foreign to dancing.  You are most clearly a team.

Ballroom dancing

An RKO publicity still of Astaire and Rogers d...
Image via Wikipedia

My wife and I started taking ballroom dance lessons last month to celebrate our 25th anniversary and have really enjoyed it.  It is a great way to spend time together and learn something new.  I never liked free form dancing but ballroom is much different.  The key for me is just breaking it down and getting lots of repetition.

Do any of you do ballroom dancing?  What do you like about it?

We’re about ready to venture out into the public.  A friend told us about this place in the Heights that plays some big band music at least one Saturday a month.  Any other good places to go in the North Houston area?  We thought it would be fun to get some friends to go out together now and then.

We’ve covered a lot of dances – Rumba, Cha cha, Waltz, Foxtrot, Salsa, Swing, Two step, and more.  Some are progressing more than others!  We were leaving one night and I noted that I really enjoyed the Mamba.  My wife pointed out that a mamba is a poisonous African snake and that I probably meant the Rumba.  (She was right, though I should have claimed I meant it as a combination of the Samba and the Rumba).

We are taking at a Fred Astaire studio close to our house.  We’ve been really pleased with the instructors.  Very thorough and friendly.  If you tell them we referred you it is only $25 for a startup package with two private lessons and one group lesson (and they give us a free lesson).  The group lessons aren’t very large – we’ve never had more than 5 people in a class.  Note: It gets more expensive after the trial: There are packages that average $100 for a private lesson and a week of group lessons (i.e., $400 for 4 private lessons and 4 weeks of unlimited group lessons).  But group lessons are only $25 and you can learn a lot in those.

They also have free Saturday night open dancing for students, sort of a ballroom dance party.  They play music for all the different dances and are glad to give you tips along the way.