Does anyone remember the days when a band played at a music hall, dinner, gala or event and everyone in the room would get up and casually tango dance, foxtrot or waltz about the dance floor? A time when ballroom dancing wasn’t dominated by competitive Dancesport or Dancing With the Stars extravagance? A time when (pretty much) everyone could dance?
I got to experience this three times in my life: once at Atomic Ballroom’s Saturday night dance, once at a private Milonga (tango party) and once at Alpine Village in Torrance where orchestras still strike up a waltz and (mostly senior) couples flood the floor. And it was pretty cool! There is a unified rise and fall as everyone in the room moves with similar rhythms and steps, casually leading or following basic figures. Ah, social ballroom.
Around the turn of the 20th century, many society individuals were pressured into training for a number of of popular dances: the one-step, two-step, waltz, minuets and more – which required precise knowledge of hundreds of exact figures. To encourage a more relaxed and social environment, societies began dwindling down the number of dances people were expected to know and the two-step, waltz and tango basics became the foundation of social dancing as other dance crazes came and went.
Anyone can work hard to be as adept as Fred Astaire or Ginger Rogers, but you didn’t have to. As long as you could walk out a foxtrot or keep the waltz beat, you were sure to have fun on a social dance floor.
We admire the commitment and discipline of competitive dancers, but it is also important to encourage everyone (even swing dancers) to become familiar with ballroom basics.
In honor of social ballroom dances, here are some clips of ballroom dancers from yesteryear…
Dancing at the Tower Ballroom in Balckpool, UK
Check Out These Dancers Flooding the Floor
*Even those who don’t do the popular craze (Charleston) can still step around the floor in a poised ballroom fashion!
Social Two-Steps or Castle Walking