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Your Fairy Godfather’s Guide to Social Dances with Beginning Lessons

Updated on January 23, 2012

© 2012 by Aurelio Locsin.

I would never be so declassé as to reveal my true age. But in my day, dancing was designed to bring people together. Sadly, since the late 1960s, the practice has devolved into barriers designed to keep the genders apart. These solo gyrations keep their partners at arm’s length, perhaps so the dancers can better text their friends rather than interact with each other.

Well, darlings, there are still occasions that demand the genteel art of interacting through movement such as weddings, anniversaries and any formal celebrations. So you’d best be familiar with the basic steps lest you remain wall-flowered in a corner when the time comes. I shall wave my magic mouse so my fairy helpers can show you exactly what I’m talking about.


This is the movement that pays homage to ballads and other slow romantic tunes while keeping you close to intended. The more adventurous among you with melodious pipes may attempt singing as your whisk your partner around the ballroom floor.

The dance is important as a foundation for many types of social dancing. You may actually perform this 20th century invention to music that plays as fast as a medium tempo. Any faster,


This quicker version of the foxtrot showcases separations, individual turns, complex leg and arm movements, free invention and syncopation. The variations are designed to accompany the more upbeat jazz-based stylings that began in the 1930s and continued into the rock-and-roll of the early 1960s.

The dance transformed into many varieties including the shag, East Coast Swing, West Coast Swing and jitterbug. Ladies, skirts going from the knees up to the middle of the thigh are Apropos to the movement. But do wear appropriate undergarments if you intend on spreading and kicking your lower limbs. Gentlemen, for the swing, you are lucky to be able to wear anything from short-sleeved polo shirts to jacket-and-tie.

Latin Dances

America’s growing Latino population heralds the appearance of South-of-the-Border dances on festive occasions. Though tempos can vary from sensuous to speedy, these movements are characterized by pronounced hip swaying to a strong beat. Brevity compels me to only touch upon these delightful selections.

  • They include the slow rumba which originates with the African slaves of Cuba;
  • The faster salsa, also from Cuba, but with influences from many Latin-American nations;
  • And the cha cha, a simplified version of the mambo, which hails from Cuba and later, Mexico.

Ladies, emphasize the short in skirts, shorts or pants to highlight your hips with these styles.


In the 19th century, this dance scandalized polite society because it brought strangers waist-to-waist. Today, it provides a way of getting physical in a socially sanctioned way in three-quarter time. Done masterfully, the waltz allows whispered and private conversation among couples, and yet provides a graceful performance for approving relatives and friends.

Ladies, should you have occasion to get invited to affairs featuring the waltz, prep with a long flowing skirt that can gracefully mimic your movements. If you risk a short skirt or, heaven help us, pants, the spindly legs of you and your partner will make you look like an ungainly baby giraffe just learning to stand. Gentlemen of class can celebrate their interaction by wearing a formal suit or a tuxedo.


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    • L.L. Woodard profile image

      L.L. Woodard 6 years ago from Oklahoma City

      The descriptions and accompanying videos are compelling. The grace of these type of dances, whether fast or slow, speak to romance and an elegance missing from today's dance styles.

      Voted up and SHARED.

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 6 years ago from Nepal

      Wonderful hub. The videos are amazing.

    • Sally's Trove profile image

      Sherri 6 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      Wonderful collection of dance videos. I've never been much of a dancer, but I love to watch others. Who knows, maybe I'll play these videos on a big screen and get inspired to at least follow along. Up, interesting, useful, and, as Tammy said above, inspiring.

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 6 years ago from Orange County, CA

      I was around then, RusticLiving, and remember the craze. I enjoyed it too.

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 6 years ago from Orange County, CA

      I really like social dancing as well, Peggy W, which is why I posted these videos for anyone who wants to give it a try.

    • tammyswallow profile image

      Tammy 6 years ago from North Carolina

      Beautiful, fun, inspiring, and a great review! I love dance, especially swing. I LOVE this hub!

    • Pamela N Red profile image

      Pamela N Red 6 years ago from Oklahoma

      Dancing is such a good form of exercise and way to socialize. Too bad it's not practiced as much as it used to be. Perhaps your article will spark an interest in others.

    • tarajeyaram profile image

      tarajeyaram 6 years ago from Wonderland

      Dancing is a great social activity. Great hub with lots of excellent information. Voting up and thanks for sharing.

    • Rusticliving profile image

      Elizabeth Rayen 6 years ago from California

      When I DJ'd in the early 80's, I also taught ... are you ready for this... "Touch Dancing"..haha.. ok, you laugh now, but it was all the craze back then. The lifts, the drops were all part of being the "Coolest" on the dance floor at the night clubs. And just to date myself a little further... When I DJ'd... I used licorice Pizza's! (For those who don't have a clue what a licorice pizza is... ask me.:) I love this hub alocsin! I love to dance period, and the gentle romantic art of the dance will forever be etched in this aging body's mind! :)Voted uppppppp! Lisa

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

      What a terrific hub and collection of videos demonstrating the various dance steps. My mother and dad were terrific dancers and taught me much of what I know, but sadly, my husband has never been much for dancing. Now, this many years later, I am so out of practice that I would be an abomination on the dance floor should anyone ask.

      Ah...but I have my memories! One of my dates when I was still single had me doing things that I did not think possible. I almost felt like I was floating...he had such a light touch and way of guiding my movements. I still remember it to this day.

      Voted up, useful, interesting and will share.

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 6 years ago from Western NC

      I really, REALLY want to learn how to do salsa, tango, and even zumba (though that's not really considered "dancing" per se). I love your selections here, Fairy Godfather. Where's my pumpkin? :D Voted up and across as usual. Hehe.

    • Daisy Mariposa profile image

      Daisy Mariposa 6 years ago from Orange County (Southern California)


      This is a terrific article! It brings back memories of the time I took a series of ballroom dancing lessons.

    • BrightMeadow profile image

      BrightMeadow 6 years ago from a room of one's own

      I've always wanted to learn. (Sigh) I wish there were more occasions calling for this out there, then maybe there would be more opportunities to learn. Great hub.

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 6 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Well, Dale, you are never too old to learn ;) And more dancing to you Marisa.

    • Marisa Wright profile image

      Kate Swanson 6 years ago from Sydney

      I've loved dancing all my life, but I think the biggest thrill I've ever had was to dance with my husband. The steps are basic compared with what I'm used to on stage, but there's nothing like dancing in the arms of someone you love.

      Dale, you're not past it yet! I met my husband at 50 and we're still dancing the rumba pretty well, thank you!

    • Dale Hyde profile image

      Dale Hyde 6 years ago from Tropical Paradise on Planet X

      Most interesting hub about something I do not do or never learned to do, lol! Great videos that really compliment the hub as well. Love the Rumba! Of course now that I am in my late 20's, I have to slow down a tad, so I would have to pass on that one. Voted up and interesting as well as useful. :)