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All you need to know about Ballroom Dancing

Ballroom Dancing
With shows like Dancing With The Stars and Strictly Come Dancing hitting our screens year after year, not to mention films like Strictly Ballroom, it seems we are all expected to understand the intricacies of ballroom dancing. At Arthur Murray, we don’t want to bamboozle you, so we’re going back to basics to get our head around the phenomenon that is ballroom.

A little bit of history

The word ‘ballroom’ is derived from the Latin ‘ballare’ meaning to dance, and the term was given to the large halls of 17th century Europe, which were specifically designed for private social dances. Distancing itself from country or folk dancing, ballroom was an elite gathering, often held before battle to send the troops off in high spirits. By the 19th century, ballroom dances were invitation-only events, highly sought-after on the social calendar, and many novels of the time detail the customs and practices of a dance, such as titles by Jane Austen, Gustave Flaubert and Leo Tolstoy.

A whole lot of style

Ballroom dancing itself isn’t one genre of dance, but a collection of partner dances in a wide range of styles. The original dance was the Waltz, and then the Viennese Waltz added extra revolutions. Other styles under the ballroom umbrella in the early 20th century included the faster moves of the Foxtrot and Quickstep. The traditional Tango (not to be confused with the street-style ‘Argentine Tango’) completes the International Ballroom suite of dances. However, ballroom dancing also includes the International Latin suite of Samba, Cha Cha, Rumba, Paso Doble and Jive, making a core 10 ballroom styles in total.

Ballroom baloney

Although it might seem overwhelming to master all those styles, each genre has a handful of basic steps, enabling the student to quickly get out of the studio and onto a dance floor. Social dance is non-choreographed and a couple communicates through physical contact, initiated by leaders and accepted by the followers. With just a little knowledge and a lot of practice, you’ll be surprised how smoothly you can spin around the dance floor with just a few easy ballroom dancing instructions under your belt.

Fads and fashions

If ballroom dancing was the thing for the elite in the 19th century, the sublime pairing of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in the early 20th century broadened its appeal to the wider population. The rock’n’roll revolution didn’t harm ballroom, as elements of Jive and Lindy Hop were incorporated, but the arrival of the Twist in the swinging sixties heralded an era of solo dance, spilling into the discos of the 1970s and 1980s. Partner dancing however has had a massive revival through the popular TV contests and dancers are now reconnecting with social dances as a great way to keep fit, learn a new skill, let your hair down and make friends.


Both my wife and I are extremely happy learning ballroom dancing at Crows Nest Arthur Murray Studio. We have found the dancing instructors to be professional, knowledgeable, friendly and supportive. We are more than happy to continue enjoying our dancing experience and social activities with all the other students. We feel like part of a large joyous dancing family.John & Marilynread more
John Chung
John Chung
11:16 14 Feb 17
We were interested in learning Tango for our daughter's wedding last year, but here we are in our second year at AM, Crows Nest - dancing has now become our passion, due in large part, to the excellence of teaching and supportive atmosphere of this studio! The journey is long and I so envy the folks who have started years ago to achieve the beauty and grace of ballroom and the seduction of Latin dancing. We are determined to continue !!!read more
Ayshe Talay-Ongan
Ayshe Talay-Ongan
23:35 06 Feb 17
We started dancing in 2009 for our wedding - and had so much fun learning that we kept it up. They have incredible flexibility to do as much as you want, on your schedule, and consist of staff that appreciate busy working (and family!) lives --- while encouraging you to always improve yourselves! As a couple learning they have accommodated both our learning styles very well.read more
Heidi Kuglin Justin Beck
Heidi Kuglin Justin Beck
08:48 04 Feb 17
I walked through the doors at Arthur Murray Crows Nest over 10 years ago having never danced a day in my life… I was looking for something fun to do outside of work and I’ve been there ever since!! There are local and overseas competitions, social nights and lots of glamorous events throughout the year to keep you busy. It’s fun, challenging, incredibly rewarding and you have an absolute blast along the way!!read more
Amy Hendry
Amy Hendry
02:29 31 Jan 17
I have loved dance all of my life but the Arthur Murray Crows Nest experience has taken my love and learning to another level. I have been dancing here for 14 years and will continue until my body gives up. My lessons are so much fun, challenging in a good way and a great form of exercise. Add to that the social side, great people, parties, outings, local and overseas competitions and you have the ultimate hobby.read more
Janet Black
Janet Black
02:19 27 Jan 17