Ballroom Dancing: 6 Beginner Lessons Learned

A few months ago Dan and I started ballroom dancing. Neither of us had ANY dance experience, literally zero. Dan grew up playing football and swimming. And I was an avid volleyball player. Honestly, the only reasons we were going in were that we got a free lesson, and that we wanted to learn how to dance for our wedding, even if it was just the basics.

Let me tell you, we got sucked in so fast, and we are having the time of our lives learning new skills, making new friends, and challenging ourselves.  I learned some basic lessons very quickly, so here they are for either you to laugh at or to utilize when you start ballroom dancing!

  1. It is NOT like other sports, but it is a sport: Ok, this might be obvious. But to me it wasn’t. I was always a tomboy but through friends and family dancing, watching Dancing With the Stars (yup…), and watching other sports that don’t include balls: rhythmic and artistic gymnastics, ice dancing, figure skating, and other dancing disciplines, I have really learned to appreciate it. NOW, this is how it is NOT like other sports. Don’t show up to your lesson (not practice), in basketball shorts, a t-shirt, and tennis shoes. Because that is what I did. Now being a few months into dancing, I can’t even BELIEVE I did that! It is possible to dress to sweat while looking like a decent human being; I wear a lot of sun-dresses, leggings with a simple v-neck, and sometimes nice pants with a nicer shirt. I have invested in dance shoes as well.
  2. Ballroom Dance is VERY Chivalrous: Now as an independent woman (that don’t need no man), this was a bit of an adjustment. Dan and I have never been very formal in that sense and so having him escort me around and LEAD me in dancing (I have had to learn how NOT to lead). It is still very hard for my independent brain to wrap around, but I have realized I kind of really LOVE it, and so does Dan.
  3. You Have to Think: Seriously. I did not realize how much thinking I would have to do. I mean other sports, even playing catch in the backyard are like second nature. But in Ballroom you have to be thinking three steps ahead while doing the current steps and not running into any of the other people, and THEN you have to look pretty on top of it. I leave every lesson having worked out both my brain and my body and it feels great.
  4. There are Lessons, Not Practices: This was weird to me. I am used to practicing with a large group of people, one coach to a decent group of people. These lessons are with one or two coaches, who for us are professional dancers. The lessons are very personal and very individualized and it is awesome.
  5. It is Expensive: It costs money, like most things in life. I have to say, originally, we were a little shocked at the price point, but once it is fleshed out you realize that yes it costs money, but for being coached by professional dancers and learning new things and having fun, it really breaks down to a somewhat reasonable price. Depending on where you go, the prices will be different, but I encourage you to look at the breakdown and enjoy the ride!
  6. There is A LOT of Eye Contact: This felt so awkward when we first started dancing, especially when I wasn’t dancing with Dan. Ballroom dancing is very intimate so you have to be comfortable with eye contact. My awkward engineering self was a little thrown off by this at first, but now it is one of my favorite parts of dancing, you get to know so many people!

I have to say, I NEVER thought I would love dance this much (and neither did most of my family and friends), but it has been an amazing journey, and we are only at the start.

Dan and I are Bronze Level students at Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Milwaukee. 

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