Dancing is an incredibly fun, fulfilling, and engaging hobby for many people. But if you’ve never danced before, how can you know if learning to dance is right for you?
Rather than telling you, “of course, dancing is perfect for you!” let’s explore some of the reasons why dancing might be perfect for you – or might not. We might be a little biased in thinking that dancing IS right for you, even if you don’t think so, yet.
How did you find out about dance? What got you curious?
Somehow you had to get here, somehow you started getting curious about dance. Whether you saw some solo or partner dancing on YouTube or your friend just won’t stop talking about how “amazing it is” and how much you just “have to try it.”
Think about how you first started hearing about or seeing dancing. Was there something about it that had you curious about it in the first place?
My (Austin) first step in getting curious about dance was that I noticed I was spending a lot of time on YouTube watching different kinds of dance between solo styles of dance and ballroom dancing. After a while, I realized just how much time I was spending on YouTube watching ballroom dance performances that I started to wonder … is it possible for me to take a lesson?
Is there even any dance classes near me?
There’s dance classes in virtually every major city out there! It really comes to where you live and how far you want to drive for what could potentially become one of the most exciting hobbies you’ve ever done.
All it takes is a quick look around on Google to find studios available in your area. If you’re looking for swing or ballroom lessons in Fort Wayne, the Anchor Room is just a tad south of Fort Wayne. This studio is home to the Anchor Room Dance Studio along with a number of different instructors and clubs that host a variety of different dances through the month.
The Anchor Room is a great place to keep tabs on if you’re looking for a variety of different dances among the same great community of dancers you’ll become a part of by taking lessons in the Fort Wayne and Northern Indiana area.
I’ve never danced before… How do I know if I can dance?
Have you ever walked before? We’re going to make the assumption that you have.
Learning to dance isn’t as hard as most people think. If you can move your feet, then you know enough to make your first steps onto the dance floor in your very first introductory lesson.
A professional dance instructor will give you all the information, encouragement, and resources you will need to get your dance basics in your introductory lesson. The whole intent of a dance instructor is to help you reach your dance goals, and as someone who hasn’t danced before, they’ll give you what you need to feel comfortable enough to dance for the first time.
Learning to dance is the same as learning any other hobby. Take basketball, golf, football, painting, or learning an instrument. When you think about this, it’s not likely that you’ll assume you can learn those overnight.
Even the best in the world are learning and practicing on a regular basis. Learning to dance is the exact same scenario: you start at the beginning by learning the basics and then continuing to take lessons and participate in training.
The more you “do it” and let your body be exposed to the basics of dance, the more familiar it becomes, and the more your “muscle memory” works on autopilot. The more you do it, the easier it gets!
So it’s only natural to think you “can’t dance” if you’ve never danced before. But once you start taking lessons, then you’ll technically “have danced!”
What are the different ways I can learn? Which one is best?
There’s no “right” or “wrong” way to learn to dance, but there are certainly more effective options. But what’s most effective is going to be dependent on you and how you best learn.
We’ll go from the most ideal to least ideal way to learn to dance. They’re all great options, and are best when combined in order to make you a well-rounded dancer in the community.
- Private Lessons
By far, one of the quickest and most effective ways to learn to dance is through one-on-one help with a private instructor. You can select to work with a private instructor one-on-one, with your significant other (or a friend), or a group of friends.
Choosing to go into a private lesson with additional people can help you to distribute the cost of a private lesson, as private lessons are more expensive than workshops, group lessons, and social dances.
Private lessons offer the most individualized instruction, greater personal attention, will help you make progress with you on your dance goals, and will give you personalized troubleshooting on areas that you’re struggling with.
- Group Lessons & Workshops
Group lessons and workshops are a more cost-effective option for learning to dance. Not everyone can afford to take a private lesson (even if we strongly encourage it – and suggest budgeting for it when possible), but group lessons can help you to progress quickly in your dancing at reduced cost.
You won’t have quite the same opportunity for one-on-one, individualized attention from the instructor, but you’ll still receive a lot of great information and guidance on the particular dance being taught in the group lesson or workshop.
For many people, group lessons become a way of getting exposure to different dances or laying the groundwork for a lot of the major dances that they want to learn. Consistently taking group lessons in a dance, or any number of dances, increases the exposure to those dances, and helps to build comfort with the movements associated to that dance.
- Social Dances
Many swing, country, and ballroom events in and around Fort Wayne, IN will also offer a group class prior to the social dance. The group lesson prior to the dance functions identically to group lessons you would take from your instructor/studio, usually included in the price of the dance.
Social dances are a two-for-one opportunity: giving you new dance education followed immediately by the chance to practice what you learned with other people at the dance. You’ll gain a lot of feedback just from dancing with people and learning what works and what doesn’t.
Social dances are like a playground: you go out and have fun and try new things. You get a taste of what works, what doesn’t, and what your limitations are. While social dances are a great way to practice your dancing, they’re organized for you to have fun and socialize with the dance community. Most social dances (and all dances that take place at the Anchor Room Dance Studio) promote an easy going, social, friendly, and judgement-free environment.
If you’re ever running into some challenges with what you learned in the group lesson, you can always chat with the instructor that evening to get some quick feedback.
What about learning from a friend? Or learning to dance on YouTube?
You’ll notice we didn’t include these as one of the 3 major ways to learn to dance. Can you still “learn to dance” from a friend or from a YouTube video? Of course. You might learn the basics and “learn something new, but there’s a big difference between learning from a video or a dancer and a professional who is experienced and specifically trained at helping people one-on-one.
There’s nothing wrong with learning from friends, as they may have a good understanding of dance and are well intentioned, but remember that they may not necessarily have an understanding (or ability to fully communicate) essential, core skills of dance.
It’s critical to know the skillset, the technique, and fundamentals that make dancing possible, not just learning footwork and patterns.
Working with a private instructor allows you to build a professional relationship with an experienced dancer and educator who is committed to seeing you succeed, understands how you learn, and helps you progress as a dancer in a safe, respectful environment while gently challenging you to push past your limits and improve as a dancer.
I’m not the most “social,” how does dancing work for ME?
It’s not uncommon for many dancers to start off not being particularly social. Many can speak from experience about how “shy” they were before they started dancing. For me, personally, I was not confident talking to people before I started dancing. I could barely say hello to anyone, and I couldn’t even look people in the eye.
Dance completely upgraded the confidence I have when it comes to being “social.” I’m still a quiet and reserved individual by other people’s standards, but I’ve learned that those are characteristics of who I am. My shyness, the part that hindered my ability to talk to people, has subsided quite a lot since learning to dance.
You don’t need to go into dance expecting to be social. People are friendly and respectful and most social dances are receptive to someone who’s not the most extroverted. Being reserved in a “dance setting” is more common than you might think. A lot of us will be able to relate.
And even if you’re completely scared to get out on the dance floor – that’s okay, too! That’s where taking lessons comes into place.
In private lessons, it’s just you and the teacher. Most people will feel a lot more comfortable when it’s just one-on-one and don’t have to worry about other people seeing them. That’s how a lot, if not most, people start with their dancing. It’s easier to ease into learning to dance when the only people watching are you and the instructor you’re choosing to work with.
Group lessons are a great stepping stone to getting more comfortable with “being out on the dance floor.” In a group lesson setting, you’ll either be paired with your significant other or someone else from the class. Partners will rotate frequently throughout the lesson, so you’re getting a chance to meet someone new (or find that familiar face again).
Everyone in the group class is learning, and even if someone’s more advanced, they are working on something in their dancing – you’re never expected to know everything that’s being taught. That’s what the class is for!
I don’t have a partner, am I out of luck?
Of course not! In fact, in many communities, the greater majority of dancers don’t have a partner. They come in as individuals. This isn’t even a problem in the dance community because everyone dances with everyone. Whether you’re “with someone” or you’re single, everyone is welcome to ask anyone else to dance. It grows on you pretty quick and you don’t even think about it at a certain point.
I don’t have fancy shoes. How much will I need to spend to get started with dancing?
When you’re just starting out, you don’t need to worry about fancy shoes or anything like that. The only thing that matters when you’re first learning is getting into your very first introductory lesson and group classes. You can get by with all of the basics in each dance with any kind of shoes that are comfortable.
As you get more experience and find that dancing is fun and fulfilling, you’ll likely want to invest in a good pair of dance shoes. As long as they’re well taken care of, your dance shoes will last you years. Ask any lover of dance if investing in dance shoes was worth it and they’ll tell you yes, without a doubt.
Once you get into a pair of dance shoes, it’s hard to go back. There are alternatives that you can try if dance shoes don’t fit your budget. Your dance instructor can help you find alternatives or where to find more affordable dance shoes.
But when you’re just getting started? Find a pair of shoes that are comfortable, stay ON your feet when you move around, and ideally are a little slippery on the bottom (like hard leather).
Otherwise, just get into your beginning lessons and get that rhythm down first!
I’m afraid of what people will think.
This is a normal reaction for people who haven’t danced before, especially for people who haven’t done any kind of activity that involves “spectators.” For me personally? I was really afraid of people finding out that I wanted to dance. When I first started, I didn’t tell anyone about it until after I had scheduled and taken my first dance lessons.
It was more important for me to understand that I wanted to learn to dance, even if I was only “just curious” about it in the beginning. But after that first lesson? It was all downhill from there. I knew it was something I wanted to do, and at that point it didn’t matter whether people knew I wanted to dance.
And as it turns out, people think it’s awesome to know how to dance. You often hear, “Oh, I wish I could do that…” and not realizing how easy it is to get started.
The only thing stopping you from learning this amazing art and becoming a part of an incredibly welcoming and friendly community … is you!
The best thing I’ve ever done in my life (it’s cliche, but for me it’s true) was send one email to ask about dance lessons.
… Is there any reason dancing wouldn’t be right for me?
The only real reason dancing wouldn’t be “right” for you is if you try it and decide you don’t actually like it. There’s nothing wrong with that at all. But for many people, the simple inclination and curiosity is enough of a cue that it’s worth checking out.
So… is dancing right for me?
Do you want to dance? Do you think it would be “cool” or “awesome” to know how to dance?
If you “had the ability to dance” and could do it confidently, would you want to be known as a dancer?
If the answer is “yes,” or “maybe,” then dancing is right for you. It’s “right” enough to at least give it a try.
Give it one lesson and see how you feel!
The Anchor Room offers an Introductory Special for newcomers and first time dancers that are new to the Anchor Room. Feel free to contact us with any questions that you have!