Will you and your groom perchance be showing off a little Hip-hop at your reception? A bit of Foxtrot maybe? Nothing spells romance more than two lovers ballroom dancing. And because this is going to be your first dance as a couple, a symbolic act you perform for your guests to evoke oneness, you’ll want to get it right. Your dance can be as timeless as something out of an Astaire and Rogers flick, or as hot and wild as the numbers in Mambo Kings. Whatever dance you do choose, remember your dress could act as the perfect means of expression in which to perform it (I’m not forgetting the groom here . . . you’re both supposed to become one unit when you dance. . . ).
Dressing the part and getting in simpatico with your chosen dance isn’t all that difficult. Just know every dance was invented and came out of the human body to express a mood, so naturally each has its own temperament. Thus dance crazes (like fashion) sometimes come and go; others take hold and evolve into ageless classics like the Tango, the Quickstep and Rumba.
Foxtrot was considered the American standard of the 1940s-50s when Sinatra tunes reigned big. Die hard ballroom dance addicts claim the Foxtrot is still the numero uno social dance. I’d call it a vintage classic; times have changed since man circled the moon. If you love the easy listening style of Frank Sinatra, Peggy Lee and most any Rat-Packer, consider this dance yours.
Popular Foxtrot Tunes-Love and Marriage by Frank Sinatra ; Summer Wind by Frank Sinatra; Is That All There Is, by Peggy Lee.
Listen to the Love and Marriage video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YPWE9z5dMa4
Watch the Video of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers Dancing cheek to cheek in a fancy Foxtrot from Top Hat
Drama. Passion. Jealousy. Can you really do a decent Tango without all these emotions? Maybe. Realize though, the Tango was born in Argentina amidst gauchos and evolved by streetwise South Americans who danced it in humble bars and cafes. Around 1913-14 the craze caught on in Europe once it was taken to Paris and . . . ‘polished up’. Ahem, okay. So Argentine Tango is still a bit provincial and different from the ‘polished up’ Anglicized Tango. Tango aficionados are sticklers on what constitutes Argentine from International Tango. Still, I say mix them up. Argentine Tango is worth checking out, for that great Buenos Aries root with whining base violins and sweeping accordion sounds. Regular Tango in 2/4 time, when orchestrated well, can be as brilliant as Al Pacino in Scent of a Woman; orchestrated ho-hum and you get Bobby and Cissy on Lawrence Welk Show reruns.
Watch the Tango sequence from Scent of A Woman:
Waltzing caught on big time around 1845 when Johann Strauss started composing fast, lively and—considered for their time—daring tunes. Today we know the waltz as something refined and when done right, elegant. At its height we know it as Viennese, usually with white-tie and tails for men, for women: a full and flowing gown with sweeping skirts like the one pictured here. Viennese waltzing is kind of like riding the tilt-a-whirl at the carnival. To look really good doing it you may have to work hard on it. So if you’re not a regular on Ballroom Dance Challenge get thee and your fiancee to a place like Arthur Murray.
Luckily not all waltzes are fast. The American or standard waltz is easy to listen and dance to. Elvis Presley’s, Are You Lonesome Tonight? is an easy listening waltz. So is, Could I Have This Dance? By Anne Murray. If you like modern melodies in waltz time (country western is a great example) try some like these.
Listen to the Anne Murray Video
Watch the Viennese Waltz
Drum Bogie. Sing, Sing, Sing. Tutti-Frutti. You know these tunes when you hear them because they’ve become such classics. Swing is a fast, lively dance—the kind you see in wartime newsreels when men in uniform toss partners up in the air, only to catch and slide her through open legs. Originally evolved from ragtime, before it was Swing it was the Lindy or Lindy Hop (after Lindberg’s hop over the Atlantic) It finally found its name in the era of swing time jazz and Benny Goodman. If you’re up for this one it’s worth a few lessons at Arthur Murray for sure.
The more modern version of Swing. Not really all that much different. International and American Ballroom has put Jive in the Latin standard. I’d call Jive the contemporary modern dance of the 21st century.
Watch the Sing, Sing, Sing video.
Popular Swing Tunes-Rock Around the Clock by Bill Haley and the Comets; Tutti Fruitti by Little Richard; I Get Around by The Beach Boys
Salsa is a fusion of dance that originated in the Caribbean. When you think Salsa, think of a mix of Mambo, Guaguanco, Rumba and other Latin dances that involve Cuban motion. I call Salsa the Hispanic version of Swing though you'll find some African influences in the music and dance as well. Salsa is a great partner dance despite the fact there are solo steps and sometimes Salsa is danced like line or contra dances with changes of partner. Though a great improv dance, Salsa is perfect for exhibition dancing. Some of these tunes are perfect for Salsa: Ran Kan Kanonte by Tito Puente; Vamonos Pal M by Eddie Palmieri; Tanga by Mario Bauza
Listen to Vamonos Pal M
Pictured in the title photo, Hip-Hop is a relatively new addition to the dance standard. It evolved from funk and break dancing in the streets circa the 1970s-1990s. Still evolving, Hip-Hop is known for its improv nature. When we think Hip-Hop, it is usually in the way of a group or solo exhibition. I think though, this dance can be developed into an energetic and sexy dance for a couple.
Some of my favorite tunes for Hip-Hop, Lean on Me by Big Daddy Kane; Do Me Right by Salt and Pepa; My Melody by Eric B. Rankim
If there's any chance you have a groom named, Mickey, Mike, Mik, Misha or any derivative of Michael try Toni Basil's early Hip-Hop Cheerleader classic, Mickey
Watch the 1982 Video