5 reasons to take your wedding dance seriously

Photo by edenpictures
Photo by edenpictures

This is not an attempt to arm-twist you into ballroom dance classes. I’m just suggesting you weigh the costs and the benefits.

  1. It could make the whole day go better. You don’t need a big, splashy dance routine. But knowing what you’re going to do on the dance floor will make you more relaxed and confident going into your wedding day. Plus, if you plan your wedding dance correctly, you can match the routine to your ability, which will prevent you from taking on more than you can handle, further easing the tension.
  2. It provides social proofing. Can we talk man to man? Throughout history and across cultures, men have danced. The most macho characters in American film have danced, from Arnold Schwarzenegger (True Lies) to Brad Pitt (Mr. & Mrs. Smith) to Harrison Ford (Witness) to Antonio Banderas (The Mask of Zorro). Dancing, especially at your wedding, is the correct behavior for men—hence, it gives you social proof. You don’t have to like it but being able to ballroom dance and not show fear is alpha male behavior.
  3. It’ll make your fiancé happy. If your fiancé wants to do a credible wedding dance, whether it’s choreographed or just loosely put together, then your support and willing involvement will make her love you even more.
  4. It will be captured on video. Ouch. The YouTube era makes it open season on us klutzes. Let’s hope you don’t have friends who are disturbed or hold a grudge. But even if it’s never posted to the web, the videographer is going to nab some dance footage and it’ll end up on the official wedding video. Over the years, you’ll watch it again and again. Your children will watch it. Their children may watch it. Do you want to risk doing something you’ll regret?
  5. You’ll be expected to dance at events for the rest of your life. Learn an easy dance step or two now and it will not only get you through your wedding but through every other wedding reception, dinner dance, nightclub, concert, cruise, New Year’s Eve party and senior center social that you attend for the rest of your life.

Oh, one more thing: They say that how you dance is a metaphor for who you are. By learning to dance together, you may discover something new about the person you’re about to marry.

(For more on the first dance, check out “Surviving the Wedding Dance.”)

If you’re about to get married, what’s your biggest issue preparing for the first dance? If you’re already married, do you regret not taking it more seriously?

Fake a ballroom dance with a “basic side step” (video: 2 min., 15 sec.)

A basic side step will work with most kinds of dance music, from foxtrot and rumba, to salsa and swing, to unfamiliar music (this video goes with the book so it’s also posted on the Freebie Video page):

Here are two reasons why, if you need a crash course in ballroom dancing, you should learn to do a basic side step:

  1. It uses the versatile double—single—double—single rhythm pattern (that’s eight beats of music: STEP STEP—STEP HOLD—STEP STEP—STEP HOLD), which is easy and fits a vast range of tempos and musical genres. This simple footwork creates a rhythm for the feet that anybody can groove on.
  2. If you don’t have a good dance connection with your partner—two newbies will not have a good dance connection—it will be easier to move your partner side-to-side than to move her forward-and-back.

Even if you know some dances, the plight of many beginners is that they can’t identify the music and what dance to do. If you get stuck on the dance floor not knowing what dance to do, start with a basic side step; then, see what develops and transition into something else if it’s appropriate. Watch other dancers on the floor for clues.

If you’re looking for minimal choreography, the basic side step is a good foundation step pattern for a wedding dance and a slow dance. Learn it well.

Note: The basic side step will not work for a waltz because waltz music is counted in sets of 6 (all other ballroom music is counted in sets of 8).