Ballroom Dance – History and Styles. Social, Competitive and Fun Dances Through the Ages
The popularity of dancing started when the first strains of music brought people to their feet. Ballroom dancing evolved and became an enjoyable social activity.
Ballroom dancing has been around for many years, starting out hundreds of years ago in Europe. It has since evolved and become popular in social, professional and competitive arenas. Each dance style has completely different steps and nuances.
The waltz was the first known ballroom dance, bringing scandal to England in the 1800s because of the close embrace of the man and woman in public. However, the elegance of the dance won out, and it became immensely popular with British society. It involves a graceful rise-and-fall movement in with a step count of 1-2-3. According to JustDanceBallroom.com, no other dance can be done to waltz music because of the 3-count rather than the typical 4-count of other dances.
The foxtrot started out in the U.S. in the early 1900s. It was originally danced to ragtime music, but it evolved to jazz and Big Band music. The partners are close, and they typically dance in a slow-quick-quick rhythm. There are variations on the rhythm to make the dance fit the music. The basic foxtrot is fun and easy to learn. Competitive and professional foxtrots require more advanced skills.
The Argentine tango began in the late 1800s. It involves dancing with a partner in both closed and open holds. Tango steps are walking to music, with the partners’ feet close, with feet, ankles and knees brushing as they do little kicks and flicks. The American tango evolved from the Argentine tango and is considered much simpler and easier to learn.
The cha cha is an American dance that began in the early 1950s in dance studios. According to an article on FirstDanceImpressions.com, it is a blend of the rumba and the mambo. Most of the movement in the cha cha is in the lower half of the body, with small steps and hip action. The rhythm is step-step-cha-cha-cha or a variation.
Swing, Lindy Hop and Jitterbug
Swing dancing started in the U.S. in the 1920s. The Lindy hop was named after Charles Lindberg to dance with the jazz and blues music of the time. Later, Cab Calloway played music named “Jitterbug,” which was another variation of nightclub dances. Swing, Lindy hop and jitterbug dancing is fast, fun and playful. The basics are easy to learn, and the dance is conducive to tricks and gymnastics, which make a great show for competitive and professional dancing.
Mambo and Salsa
Salsa dancing is related to the mambo, which was introduced at a nightclub in Havana in the 1940s. Mambo became popular in the United States in the 1950s. The mambo is typically has sharper footwork than the salsa, but the steps are basically the same. However, the salsa comes across with more sensuality and is known for being a sexy dance. Both are flirty and fun for people who enjoy dancing to Latino music.
Other Ballroom Dances
There are other ballroom dances and variations on the standard moves. Some of the other dances include quickstep, paso doble, and jive. Television shows such as “Dancing with the Stars” and “So You Think You Can Dance” have brought ballroom dancing back into vogue. Dance instruction and dancewear shops have sprung up all over the country.