Ballroom Dancing Basics #3: Line of Dance

So you're new to Ballroom

One of the most confusing things to understand when you first start dancing Ballroom is this: What the heck does Line of Dance mean?

Some classes assume you know what line of dance already is, and will tell you to face line of dance when you start a move. If you have no idea what this means, the typical response is to look around the room in confusion and mimic what everyone else is doing. Beware when you do this; there are times where you mimic someone who has no idea what they are doing either (or they aren't doing the same move that the rest of the class is doing). And, unless you understand Line of Dance, you may end up dancing the wrong direction and find yourself facing a group of couples speeding towards you like a bunch of torpedos. Which can be kind of scary, depending on the dance . . .

Moral of the story: Understand Line of Dance and your life in Ballroom will be a lot easier.


So what is Line of Dance (LOD)?

Line of dance is typically the direction dancers move as they coordinate a Ballroom or dance floor. There may be instances where a move is executed against Line of Dance, but through the course of a dance (not just a move), you will progress down Line of Dance. Everything depends on Line of Dance (LOD).

Line of dance runs counterclockwise around a ballroom, but the best way to think about Line of Dance is in association with a wall. Line of dance will always be to the left of a wall, if you are facing that wall.

Line of Dance in a Ballroom
Line of Dance in a Ballroom | Source

The 4 Main Directions

The first four directions in Ballroom Dancing to know are:

1. Line of Dance
2. Against Line of Dance (or Backing Line of Dance)
3. Center
4. Wall

LOD Compass

The 4 Diagonal Directions

So every other direction used in ballroom is based off of the main four directions already mentioned. In fact, all of the other directions to know in ballroom are diagonally oriented. These other directions include:

1. Diagonal Wall
2. Diagonal Center
3. Diagonal Wall Against LOD (or Backing Diagonal Wall)
4. Diagonal Center Against LOD (or Backing Diagonal Center)


LOD with Diagonals Compass

Notice that there are eight directions. This means that to get from one direction to another, a 1/8 turn must be made. It is very important to understand the direction of the moves in Ballroom. If you don't execute a move at the correct angle, then the move itself is incorrect or more difficult to accomplish.This is crucial information to be stored for future, more advanced techniques and moves.

Now, to see the directions oriented on a dance floor: 

LOD Compass along Dance Floor

As you travel around the dance floor, you follow Line of Dance. Line of dance will always run parallel to the walls of the room, and so once you reach a corner you must turn your direction to the new line of dance for that side of the room to remain moving parallel to the wall.

There you go! Now you understand the directions in Ballroom and what Line of Dance is!

Next Step: learn some moves. That way you can actually begin dancing down Line of Dance!!!!


Pictures of Line of Dance Directions

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Here is a simple compass for Directions in Ballroom. I have placed LOD as North.Here is a simple compass for Directions in Ballroom. I have placed LOD as North.Here is the simple compass for Directions in Ballroom placed on a Ballroom/Dance floor
Source
Here is a simple compass for Directions in Ballroom. I have placed LOD as North.
Here is a simple compass for Directions in Ballroom. I have placed LOD as North. | Source
Here is a simple compass for Directions in Ballroom. I have placed LOD as North.
Here is a simple compass for Directions in Ballroom. I have placed LOD as North. | Source
Here is the simple compass for Directions in Ballroom placed on a Ballroom/Dance floor
Here is the simple compass for Directions in Ballroom placed on a Ballroom/Dance floor | Source

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Comments 5 comments

Marisa Wright profile image

Marisa Wright 6 years ago from Sydney

Very good, clear explanation. Good start!


cbris52 profile image

cbris52 6 years ago

Amazing Hub!


rk 5 years ago

I had taken dance lessons for 11 years. No one explained to me this in this detail. Thank you so much.


Varun 4 years ago

Thank you! I was confused about LOD but u have explained it in a really nice n clear manner.


abrodech profile image

abrodech 22 months ago from 130 Linden St, Oakland, California, 94607

Line of dance is a confusing, but necessary evil. I know I learned about it in my teacher training, and I understand it, but sometimes I have to stop and think about how there's only one way to go counter-clockwise around a room. For some reason, that always got me. But yeah, I really like your pictures and charts, they're very helpful! I know I had a giant 4 ft chart that I laid on the ground as a reminder when I practicing a written Samba routine and that helped me a lot.

Happy dancing!

Anya

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