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:
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.
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).
Single rhythm, one weight change in two beats of music (e.g., a STEP HOLD or a SIDE TOUCH, no weight change on the HOLD or the TOUCH), can be a lifesaver when you’re ballroom dancing (this video goes with the book so it’s also posted on the Freebie Video page):
Doing all single rhythm is the rhythm pattern to use for a sway (single–single is the rhythm pattern, SIDE TOUCH—SIDE TOUCH is the verbal call, keep repeating), which is what to fall back on if you get stuck, lost or confused–or if you flat-out don’t know what you’re doing. If you neglected to take lessons before your wedding, use this to survive your wedding dance—but choose a wedding song with a beat you can hear. You still have to connect to the music or you’ll just get an awkward rocking back and forth. If you can’t hear the beat, I urge you to learn how to count sets of 8.
I relaunched my website/blog—the thing you’re reading—this week on a new platform. I know, it looks a little dreary at the moment. It’ll be under construction for a few months so I’ll try to spruce it up. Hang tight.
My book is finally finished …[pop champagne corks]… Every Man’s Survival Guide to Ballroom Dancing: Ace Your Wedding Dance and Keep Cool on a Cruise, at a Formal, and in Dance Classes. It’ll be for sale on Amazon by the end of January 2010.