Class FAQ

What's your class schedule?
We have 2 pre-dance classes (one beginning & one intermediate) before our Monday night dance. We also teach Stripped-down Tango 1st & 3rd Sunday afternoons. All of our classes are drop-in; there's no registration or paying in advance.
Do I need to bring a partner?
No, most people come solo to both classes and dances.
I want to take the class with my sweetheart/dance partner; do we have to rotate partners?
No. We do invite students to rotate partners frequently in classes, but feel free to stay with your partner if you want. If you are both beginners, rotating is especially recommended, so you'll have a chance to practice with partners who already know the dance, which gives you a better sense of what the dance feels like. Even our beginning classes will include many experienced dancers.
What about classes for beginners?
Henry & Linda teach a drop-in class for beginners (and anyone else who wants to work on just basics) every Monday from 6:30 to 7:30 pm. This class usually focuses on the basics of whatever dance we're teaching in the intermediate class that night, tho' the classes sometimes diverge. Some of the topics covered in beginning classes include finding the rhythm and dancing to the beat, connecting with your partner, basics of leading and following, traveling around a crowded dance floor, and the fundamental moves that are the building blocks for a given dance.

Viennese waltz (turning waltz)

Viennese waltz is the original waltz; other kinds of waltz are variations of or developments from Viennese. Viennese waltz consists mostly of just turning clockwise and counterclockwise with your partner, and it is utterly glorious; there's nothing else like it. There's no need for fancy moves (tho' we do teach some choice variations in more advanced classes, especially pauses & timing variations) because simply turning together is a deeply satisfying dance. We teach biomechanically sensible waltzing: no stress on your arms & shoulders because the strong muscles of your legs and back do all the work, including the work of keeping the two of you together. Your arms & shoulders stay relaxed and mostly just help stabilize the connection you make with those big strong muscles; you don't use your arms to hang onto or counterbalance your partner. That way you're much less likely to develop repetitive stress injury, which arms & shoulders are so notorious for. You learn to waltz as fast as you like with an embrace that's light as a feather.

Cross-step waltz

Cross-step waltz is a playful, creative, easygoing, energetic, swooping dance that's very easy to get started with. Cross-step makes a great starting place for beginning dancers because you can learn enough basics in one class to be up & dancing the night away. It's the easiest and most intuitive dance we know of: easier to get started with than swing or other kinds of waltz because the footwork is so simple and the embrace is so forgiving, and because you can cruise along right away with just 1 or 2 basics, easily learned in a single lesson. You also don't have to worry about getting dizzy in cross-step; you don't have to turn & spin - but you sure can if you want to!

Cross-step waltz has an enormous established vocabulary, and its highly flexible embrace makes it perfect for experimentation and play. We create new moves on the fly as we dance cross-step, and we pass them along in classes right away if we can. We also bring principles and moves from other dances into cross-step - Viennese waltz, tango, swing, hesitation waltz - and these enrich the dance immensely. These other elements turn cross-step into an ideal fusion waltz, and they dramatically expand the speed range you can comfortably do cross-step to. As with all the dances we teach, we emphasize connection and musicality in our teaching of cross-step waltz.

Hesitation Waltz/Blues Waltz

The essence of Hesitation Waltz is that you don't step on every beat; instead you musically and creatively choose which beats to step on. It's especially valuable (and juicy!) for fast waltzes, and it also works beautifully for slow-grind blues tunes & slow romantic ballads that have fast underlying triples (music in 6/8 & 12/8; this doesn't work the same for music in 9/8).

You start out by learning set patterns of which beats to step on and which to hold. Waltzing like this with set step patterns is a vintage dance that was first called Hesitation Waltz by Vernon & Irene Castle in the 1910s. But that's just a start. Once you get the feel of it, you can break out of set patterns and dance Hesitation Waltz in an intuitive, musical way that your partner will love. Freely improvised Hesitation Waltz is the underlying idea of tango vals. Learning to use musical hesitations will make your waltzing oh-so-much-more delicious at any speed; it lets you fit your dancing to the music perfectly, for instance dancing more to the melody than just the beat. It's easy and appealing to blend Hesitation Waltz with slow One-step and particularly The Open Box.

Hesitation Waltz is a particularly happy choice for slow blues tunes & ballads; in this guise we call it Blues Waltz. You can dance expressively, drenching your dancing with the feeling of the blues, instead of being That Guy who's spinning his poor partner around like a top to some juicy slow tune, because he hears a fast 1-2-3 and he must. dance. to. every. beat. Don't be that guy! Learn to play with the music creatively, rather than being driven by any one aspect of it.

Foxtrot/Two-step

This is a big family of dances where you travel around the dance floor using some combination of slows and quicks. Like swing, this dance has 6-count and 8-count versions. The 6-count version is usually SSQQ, and the 8-count versions are either SQQ SQQ or QQS QQS.

We mostly teach 8-count Foxtrot because it works like a waltz, and we're all about the waltzing. We call our version Turning Foxtrot or Turning Two-step because our basics are adapted from Viennese waltz: you turn as a couple to the left or the right, using essentially the same technique you use for Viennese waltz, except one of the three steps is a slow. That makes it possible to repurpose most if not all the vocabulary you've learned in waltz - yay for creative repurposing! So our starting point is to teach SQQ or QQS versions of the left and right waltz turns.

This dance is remarkably adaptable. You can adapt it for dancing to almost any music you'll hear at local dances: swing, blues, polka, zydeco, Latin dances, even super-fast waltzes that are too fast for regular waltz. SQQ is smoother and generally works better for slower music. QQS is more swing-oriented because the QQ is a rock-step; it works brilliantly for faster music. This truly is a must-have dance; you'll wonder how you ever did without it.

On a more advanced level, it's an ideal medium for learning playful, creative musicality. Once you're comfortable with the basics, you'll find you can mix & match them, adding in additional quicks and slows that allow you to dance with whatever's happening in the music. For instance you can dance with the melody, or a particular instrument; you're no longer limited to just dancing to the beat.

Cha-cha

We have an eclectic approach to cha-cha, happily dancing it to contemporary music from all over the world (see the video), old rock 'n' roll classics, guilty-pleasure ballads, sweet & mellow swing tunes, even blues - all in addition to the sizzling Latin & catchy pop it's traditionally danced to. We have our own styling, sweet & relaxed rather than intense & macho, and we've developed a lot of our own moves, so even Cha-cha veterans will find plenty of new stuff our classes.

One-step

One-step is dance at its most essential and universal: walking with your partner. It's deeply intuitive, which makes it a great starting point for beginners. It's also deeply satisfying, as tango dancers well know; tango is also a walking dance. Because the fundamental is so simple and intuitive, the possibilities for play are truly endless. Simple footwork frees you to focus on the real essence of partner dance: creative play with your partner, connection with your partner, really dancing together.

To get you started playing, One-step has a big array of moves, in all kinds of moods: playful, zany, elegant, sexy... But beyond that, One-step is omnivorous: it can incorporate moves from almost any dance. We adapt moves from blues, tango, Latin dances, even waltz. One-step suits a lot of different kinds of medium to slow music, including slinky blues, slow swing, slow Latin, cool atmospheric international music, even slow waltzes - pretty much anything that lets you move at a mellow, easygoing walking pace.

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