In this article I’ll be exploring the 5 best dances to learn for partner dancing.
As of this moment we have lessons for 18 Ballroom dances available here on passion4dancing.com. We cover all the major styles including: American style, International style, as well as Club dance style.
While we consider Cha Cha, Rumba, Swing, Salsa, Foxtrot, Tango, Waltz and Merengue to be the core dances for Latin and Ballroom dancing, it may be overwhelming to start learning so many dances at the same time.
I recommend for beginners to start with 3-5 dances at most. Then later you can expand!
The 5 best dances to learn – Ones we’d recommend beginners to start with are: Rumba, Foxtrot, Swing, Cha Cha and Salsa.
I will dive into why these are the best dances to learn for social dancing in a second but let me address the other dances that I didn’t include.
Some of the other dances like the Samba, Merengue, Waltz, Tango tend to need special type of music that is not played in most social dance situations… Of course in specific places like Latin nightclubs you will get tons of Merengue and Bachata songs playing, but in most house parties, weddings and other events the music will rarely fit those dances.
The same goes for Waltz and Tango. Waltz, while a beautiful dance has a special music structure which is 3/4 – And many songs are simply not structured in this way. And Tango is also a little bit more specialized. It would be danced in places like Milongas (Argentinian Tango dance practices) and Ballroom dance parties, but Tango music is not usually played in most social events.
Now, a dive into the 5 best dances to learn:
Let’s take a closer look as to why starting with the Rumba, Foxtrot, Swing, Cha Cha and Salsa makes the most sense for most people.
Firstly, all of these 5 dances use a 4/4 musical structure, and I am not a music expert but I know enough to understand that all it means is that MOST of the songs that you hear on the radio today will fit them. So yes, you can pretty much bet that one of these 5 dances will fit many popular songs at any social event.
Secondly, these dances will fit in character and style to many of the songs that would be played at weddings, parties and any other mainstream social events.
Let’s look at which dance to use when with some song examples.
Songs that fit the Rumba:
John Legend – Save room
Ingrid Michaelson – The way I am
Songs that fit Foxtrot:
Frank Sinatra – New York, New York
Jack Johnson – Banana Pancakes
Learn the Foxtrot basic steps for free
Songs that fit Swing:
Bob Seger – Old Time Rock and Roll
Walk The Moon – Shut Up and Dance
Learn the East coast Swing basic steps for free
Songs that fit Cha Cha:
Marc Anthony – I need to know
Santana – Smooth
Songs that fit Salsa:
Enrique Iglesias – Bailando
Luis Fonsi – Despacito
Pro Tip: Many of these dances can fit the same songs… So it is up to you to decide which dance you’d like to do. You should weigh’ different factors like: The character of the song, How slow/fast it is, and how much space you have!
Watch a video summary of this article:
How to Ballroom dance
Ballroom dance styles
Types of dance classes
More Ballroom dancing articles
Robert C. Quinn says
I ENJOYED THIS ARTICLE VERY MUCH. AS I GET OLDER, I AM 85, I HAVE LESS ENERGY. I FIND THE FOX TROT, WALTZ, AND RUMBA ARE BEST FOR ME. I LOVE THE EAST COAST SWING, BUT I GET EXHAUSTED WITHIN A COUPLE OF MINUTES. I THINK I CAN ADD THE TANGO. AS KATHERINE HEPBURN WAS GETTING OLDER SHE WAS ASKED, “MISS HEPBURN, WHAT IS GOOD ABOUT GETTING OLD?” SHE THOUGHT FOR A MINUTE AND THEN SAID,”NOT A DAMN THING.”
THANKS FOR THE LESSONS AND UPDATES.
David Fairthorne says
Robert C. Quinn. I am only 84 but I only began dancing at age 81. Now I can do nearly all dances quite well at the newcomer bronze level. I encourage you to carry on dancing, as it will improve your social life and help you to keep fit.
Thank you, Robert and David for having the courage to learn a new skill set. We women need more men to dance with and some of my favorite dance partners are older.
Rechel chavez says
LEON hi thank you for accepting me on your website this website i”ve been looking for to help develop my desire to dance i am just 16 year old and wanted to be a professional dancer in this kind of field.thank u very much
JACK C DUPIRE II says
Once upon a time there was a four year old boy who learned to play the guitar,started a rock and roll band at 6 and for the rest of his life found himself on stage more than the dance floor. Later in life he met his true love,the most wonderful, beautiful and exciting woman on the face of this planet who could dance to the envy of Angels. After 7 years they split up. devastated and always regretting not being able to dance with her he signed up for ballroom dancing at his local dance studio Ballroom Revolution in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma and purchased Passion 4 Dancing videos which by the way is like bringing your instructor home with you. After 3 months he decided to go see his friends in a popular local nightclub band. As it turned out she was there. They both danced all night,went to IHOP for breakfast at 3 o’clock in the morning and the rest is history. they are now reunited, in love and life is bliss.
My advice to all you guys out there is: if it applies, lose the weight, stand up straight and for God’s sake get off your couch potato buttocks and go dancing! If you’re not with the love of your life now, you probably soon will be.
Thank you to my instructor Diana Easter from Ballroom Revolution and Leon from Passion 4 Dancing. You wonderful people are lifesavers.
Frank A Caserio says
I agree with Jack. I met my beautiful wife 51 years ago on the dance floor. We have been married 48 years. We have 2 married daughters with 3 gorgeous children each and we still love to dance.
Richard Owens says
I looked for a good dance partner for two years. I finally met the right one and we have been dancing for thirteen years. I am 81 and she is 75. I find it a shame when I go dancing that so many ladies are in a circle dancing together with each other because men don’t get out and dance. .
Leon Turetsky says
Hi Richard! Great to hear you found a partner.
THOMAS STANLEY-JONES says
Thank you very much for this article. Clears things up a lot for me. My wife listens to Country music and it would be great if you began to offer the Two Step as well!
Leon Turetsky says
Thanks For the feedback. Okay I will note down that you and others are interested in Two Step.
Doug Ellenberger says
My wife and I have been taking lessons for four months. We attended her company Christmas party over the weekend and found we were able to dance to almost any music the DJ played with swing, rumba and a bit of lindy hop. We aren’t too good at foxtrot yet, so we skipped that one for this party. We spend the most time with our instructor on the three dances you recommended and it is paying off. I was tempted to bust into the tango when the dance floor was empty.
Weslynn McCallister says
I have several years of ballroom dance and competed in. every competition I could find at the intermediate level. I had to quit because I needed to take care of someone who had cancer. I would like to continue ballroom now but I am now 81.
It is never too late, if you are physically able to dance. I danced Viennese Waltz with my dad when he was 85 and we did very well.
Judy Kanizay says
I am a 75 yr old . Dance is all new to me although the desire to learn has never left since making a debut in teenage years. I am now taking private tuition at a local dance studio however, need to put time into remembering and perfecting steps, body movement and speed. Learning solo has its challenges. Is there more to offer that can assist progress.