Ballroom dance steps

Types of Ballroom dance styles – Article

by Leon Turetsky · 8 comments

Ballroom dance typesIn the Ballroom dancing world there are so many different dances and styles that it’s hard to get an overall picture of all the different types of Ballroom dance styles that are out there. While there are hundreds of dances, most of them can fit in to at least one category or style. Depending on which part of the world you live in, the styles and dances will differ slightly. This dance article is meant to give you a good summary of the most popular dances and Ballroom dance styles. After reading be sure to leave a comment and let us know if you have any additions or questions.

American Style
This is a style that is mainly danced in the United states. It’s main purpose was to make social dancing easy to pick up. It is danced both socially and competitively. The dances that fall under this style can be broken down into 2 more types: American Rhythm and American Smooth.

American Rhythm dances:
Cha Cha
East Coast Swing

American Smooth dances:
Viennese Waltz

International Style
This is a style that is mainly danced all around the world. This style has very specific syllabus that dancers strive to master. It is danced both socially and competitively. The dances that fall under this style can be broken down into 2 more types: International Latin and International Standard.

International Latin dances:
Cha Cha
Paso doble

International Standard dances:
Viennese Waltz

As you can see both the American and International styles have very similar dances with a few differences.

These are the core types of Ballroom dance and now I will share some other styles that fall under the umbrella of Ballroom dancing.

Latin Nightclub style
This is a style that is mainly danced in nightclubs and is very easy to pick up. People love this style because it is very fun and social.

Core nightclub style dances:
Cha Cha

The Swing dances
This is a specialized style of Swing dances. People dance this usually in Swing organized events and clubs. It is a very fun and smooth type of dancing.

Swing dances:
West Coast Swing
East Coast Swing
Lindy Hop
Not so popular ones also include:

Other Popular Social dances:
Argentine Tango
Nightclub 2 step

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Claudio C October 6, 2012 at 8:29 am

Another very informative article. Thanks for posting it.
I have a question wich I hope is related to this article.
I recently watched a movie with Daniel Day-Lewis and Winona Ryder called ”The Age of Innocence” in the movie they were dancing what some type of Waltz, the strange part of it is that they were dancing in a Clockwise Direction.
I know that the Waltz is a very old dance , but I have always been told to dance it in a Counter Clockwise direction.
Did at some point people danced the waltz in a Clockwise direction?

Leon October 11, 2012 at 11:05 pm

Hey Claudio,

Mhhh. I don’t know if they used to dance clockwise …. I think they probably did it for the movie because well…. it’s a movie so they didn’t care for it to be perfectly “The Ballroom way”. By the way, is that a good movie?

Claudio C October 13, 2012 at 2:58 pm

Thanks for the reply. Leon

Here is a youtube clip of the dance in the movie .

They keep doing the same clockwise turn over and over. If you have a minute please watch it and let me know what you think.
The Age of Innocence. Is a great movie and great music if you got a good pair of speakers.

Tony Warnock October 14, 2012 at 8:35 am

From the clip, it looks like the LOD is counter-clockwise, just as now. (And just as in the old dance manuals at the Library of Congress.)

The couples are also spinning around their own axes.

Claudio C October 15, 2012 at 3:06 pm

You are right Tony. the couples may be spinning in a clockwise direction, I guess that it what confused me. But as you said the LOD is counter clockwise. All is well

Leon October 16, 2012 at 9:14 am

Yes it looks counter clockwise to me…

Karen Martin May 21, 2015 at 8:03 am

Hmm, you’ve forgotten to mention Australian New Vogue! These are sequence dances of 16 or 32 bars and many of them are based on specific dance styles such as waltz, foxtrot, rumba, tango, swing. Some of them are danced competitively in Australia and they are also popular as social dances as the simplified steps and repetition enable beginners to pick them up easily. Lots of fun!

Robert C. Quinn July 3, 2015 at 11:16 am


The article on dance style causes two reactions. One how edifying to learn the great variety of dances. Two the number tends to overwhelm me. Thank you this has been a great dance site.


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