I know the stress the headline might have caused you. Where do I go? Will I need a partner? Will I make a fool of myself? What if I have two left feet? Luckily I have found the best way to tackle these anxieties, after spending plenty of money and time in beginner classes.
Let me begin with the benefits you will gain at the end of your dancing adventure (if you decide to take it). You will gain confidence, friends, and happiness. What you will lose is: pounds, bad dance habits, and stress. Most dancers have great bodies because dancing forces you to use muscles in your body that you normally don’t use.
Dancing works to lose weight because you are moving multiple parts of your body simultaneously as you are stepping multiple times. If you measure the number of steps walked (with a fitbit or apple watch), and heart rate while dancing you will find that they both grow exponentially while dancing. Body heat and partner work will make you sweat, and a little anxiety will make you lose weight.
What makes dancing fun is that there is no excruciating pain (unless you break a bone), soreness, or weights involved. People in the class are generally happy people and very helpful. And time flies when your dancing (compared to other exercises) which feels like time is slowing down.
Tips for beginners:
When I started, I was intimidated and didn’t want to make a fool of myself, so I took my first class while I was traveling. I figured, “If I make a fool of myself”, nobody will recognize me and I can go back to my normal life. I suggest, if you are scared, start by finding a location that is a healthy driving distance away from your home so that you feel less emotionally involved and have an easy way out.
Where to go for your first dance class is the first obstacle, but I recommend a dance studio that offers “beginner” classes that are structured like courses. Investigate when the next beginner course will begin and sign up for the “beginner “or “level 1” course (even if you believe you know your way around a dance floor). This is the least stressful course and the instructors (usually a male and female couple) will guide you and make you feel welcome and the class is specifically aimed for anyone without dance experience.
Don’t try to be a hero and skip to a more advanced or intermediate class, as you might interrupt the dynamic of a class and you will get dirty looks. You will immediately feel out of place, and discouraged. However, keep in mind that these students have danced with each other (for weeks).
What to expect:
What to expect if you choose a beginner class is; generally a group full of fun people of all shapes and sizes and (of all dance levels) learning a discipline. There will be other students, which is the first time they dance. Most new students are there because a wedding is coming up or on a date, but for the most part there will be more women than men.
Yes even advanced students are at beginner classes because they know that practicing and perfecting the basic steps makes it look easy. If you are new, I recommend to position yourself behind the instructors so that you can see what their feet are doing and ensure nobody is blocking you. However, make sure you give other new students the opportunity to be in your prime spot.
Class etiquette includes rotating position after every quick lesson to ensure everyone gets an opportunity to see. You will not need a partner as the instructor will partner whoever is there for practice purposes, and there is usually a male and female instructor that rotates with each student. Introduce yourself when practicing with a partner and thank them after the rotation.
Many couples attend classes together. The only watch-out is to respect the couple’s decision to rotate partner. In my experience, the couples that rotate partners learn faster. Remember, this is a class, not a place to hook up. Respect and humility are very important.
What to wear:
You don’t need to dress to impress, or wear a fancy outfit, all you need is comfortable clothes (but please don’t show up in pijamas). I often went to a class after work. Jeans and t-shirt are fine, and women generally show up in leggings and a comfortable shirt.
Shoes are important only because the dance studio doesn’t want you to damage the dance floor. As long as the shoes don’t scuff or damage the floor, and let’s your ankles be flexible any shoes will do (tennis shoes, or dress shoes are OK). Dance shoes come in all sorts of styles, the only difference from regular shoes is that they have suede on the bottom that helps you slide.
How to feel Clean:
Once the class is over, you will be surprised at how much sweat you will produce, so make sure you plan accordingly on how to feel clean after class. You may want to take an extra shirt, as your back will be sweaty (remember you have been sweating). Showerpouch is a great product that you can easily carry in your back pocket, and you can use it to remove all the sweat that you produced. It will have you smelling clean in no time. You can also use it after work (before your class starts as most classes are scheduled after regular work hours).
You will be making friends, and classes generally last 45 minutes. Sometimes (if there is not another class right after) some students stay for additional practice. The friends you meet may want to hang out after class and it will be important for you to feel clean.
How to socialize:
The instructors usually arrange “socials” after class. This is a time set aside for you to practice (in a safe environment) all of the dance moves you have been learning with other students, and even the instructors. Generally a room with a music playlist of the discipline you have been learning is set aside to mimic how a party and or club environment might be. This is a perfect time to practice how to ask people to dance with you. For, the most part nobody says “no”.
What to dance?:
Choosing a dance discipline could be tricky and each one has their pros and cons. If you are interested in burning the most calories and getting a good workout while having fun, I recommend AfroCuban (however these classes are hard to find). If you would like to learn good partner work and individual dance moves, I recommend Salsa. If you want to get a little more sensual, I recommend Bachata. Country and swing are also lots of fun and make you burn calories (they are not as easy as they might look).
You might expect the professor to be Latin, but that is not necessarily the case. If you decide that Salsa is the discipline that you choose, you will learn that this is the most popular discipline in the world (yes the world). Therefore, you will find instructors from all cultures.
Finally we have come to the cost of the class. That will depend on how many classes you take, but expect to pay between $20 -$35 for each group class. There are usually discounts when you signup for more than one class. One on one classes (where is just you and one instructor) is another option, and these may range from $80-$120 for one hour of instruction.
If you have the courage to finish an entire series you will feel proud of overcoming fears. You will definitely increase your confidence in the dance floor and at that time, I recommend to find a class closer to home. The only warning I have after attending a dance class is that you might become addicted. I did.