Thursday, August 28, 2014

Back to Basics - The Importance of a Solid Foundation in Dance

When given the option between learning the basics and learning cool tricks, which sounds more fun? Tricks, of course! Just like kids want to be on a bike before the tricycle, and toddlers try to run before they can successfully walk, new dancers are usually a little over eager to get into complicated moves. Don't get me wrong, I love the excitement and gung-ho attitude, but sometimes we just need to take a step back and remind ourselves: awesomeness needs a solid foundation. Ask any basketball player if they picked up a basketball and immediately started doing slam dunks. My guess? Probably not. They spent time learning to dribble, pass, and doing free throws before they attempted a layup. Just like learning any new skill, we need to build a solid foundation to create a successful future. Whether you want to learn Tango or Two Step, here are the basics of every partner social dance that you need to have down before you can get to the super cool stuff.


Social partner dance is all about true lead and follow. This means that the man and woman have to communicate with one another without using their words. It's a lot harder than it sounds!! Leading and following uses an entirely physical language consisting of pressure and elastic tension. This allows the man to completely guide and shape the woman's movements as long as he is communicating efficiently and she is "listening." This is a crucial part of dance that has to be built early so that the more advanced moves can go smoothly. If you're still struggling to walk in a straight line together, with the man leading each step, the tricky moves will be that much trickier. 

Pro tip: Always go back to connection and communication exercises, even after you've been dancing for a while. Sometimes we can get used to our partners and build bad habits of assuming and second guessing instead of listening

Foundation steps

Consider the foundations like the alphabet of our dance language. These steps can seem basic - well, maybe not when you're first learning them - but they are the foundation of everything to come after. The basics give you your general rhythm and the shape of your dance. Even if you're dying to spin a girl 12 times, you have to learn how to properly spin her once first! By drilling in the basics, you can get comfortable enough in the dance to play with it and learn new moves much quicker.

Pro tip: Learning to Salsa dance? The crossbody lead is your new best friend. Seriously. You hate it now, but it's your best friend.


FRAME FRAME FRAME!!! I can not state enough how important frame is to successful partner dancing. The frame is literally your only source of communication between one another, so instructors (at least at Dance FX Studios) tend to really harp on it. When it is first learned, frame tends to be a little stiff. It is allowed to soften over time, but only if you maintain the structure and stability that frame is supposed to provide. Don't be surprised if you get frame adjustments even after years of dancing. Even the best dancers can get lazy sometimes, so we have to keep an eye on it.

Pro tip: Posture makes a big difference in a proper frame. You may think you're standing up perfectly, but pay attention if your instructor tells you otherwise.

There are plenty more to work on when learning to dance, but these are the biggest things you'll work on when you first start out. In all likelihood, you'll be working on all of these skills for longer than you think. Don't worry, it doesn't mean you won't learn other stuff, too! There's just always room for improvement. If you're looking to grow in dance and live near Mesa, Arizona, join us at Dance FX Studios. After 13 years serving the Valley, we still have incredible instructors offering private dance lessons to bring you from basic to incredible! Our goal is to get you comfortable and smooth on the dance floor, in whatever style of dance you like. Want to get started, but want to get your feet wet first? Our September group classes are starting next week, so you can get a feel for the studio with other dancers of all levels! 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Swing, Swing, Swing! All About Swing Dancing in Arizona!

When someone says the words, "Swing Dance," what pops in your head? Do you imagine a world in black and white, full of suspenders, zoot suits, and fedoras? Or do you picture a more modern world with cowboy boots and jeans? Both are completely valid images, because there are actually many types of Swing dance! At Dance FX Studios, we teach a few of the different types of swing dance. Not sure which one you're looking to learn? Here's a simple break down of each type we offer so you can have a better idea of what you might be interested in:

Jitterbug Swing

Jitterbug is a super fun dance to get started out with! Comprised most of marching or traveling steps and rock steps, Jitterbug is known for its cool rubber band action and bouncing steps. Dancers are continuously switching places with one another and rocking away from each other, while throwing in fun twists and turns. The rhythm is generally slow-slow-quick-quick. Because of the limited steps and the fact that it doesn't travel, Jitterbug is danced to fast tempo music. This is what keeps the dance exciting without tons of extra footwork. It's the perfect dance to learn if you're looking to get introduced to the world of Swing dancing. (*Fun fact! Jitterbug, although intended for Swing music, can be danced to practically anything if it's fast enough. It's sometimes referred to as Rock and Roll dance!)

East Coast Swing

East Coast Swing is a little more of a challenge than Jitterbug. The shape of the dance is generally the same, as you keep the rubber band action and switch places with one another. The difference comes in the timing. East Coast Swing is danced with triple steps, meaning you take 3 steps in 2 beats of music. The rhythm is tri-ple-step-tri-ple-step-rock-step. Although a lot of the same moves from Jitterbug can transfer over from Jitterbug, the trickiest part comes with the bounce. Instead of bouncing with each step, you bounce with the beat. So, your bounces are on time, while your footwork is syncopated. Because of the extra footwork, East Coast Swing is usually danced to slower music. Think Big Band and crooners when looking for the perfect practice music!

Country Swing

Country Swing is the newest of these Swing dances, or at least it is the newest to be recognized. Country Swing dancing is very closely related to Jitterbug, maintaining the same timing of slow-slow-quick-quick. The moves are generally the same, but the styling is quite different. Cut out the bounces, add in a little more glide from some cowboy boots, and you've got Country Swing! A lot of Country music is too fast for Arizona Two-Step, so Swing is the best option. Country Swing is also a great space saver for those packed bars, so it's a good one to keep in your back pocket if you want to be a Country dancing machine.

West Coast Swing

West Coast Swing is one of the coolest Swing dances out there and by far one of the hardest. Although it maintains the idea of generally staying in one dance space on the floor, the shape is completely different. Dancers stay on a slot in order to keep the floor spacious and safe for everyone. The general rhythm is walk-walk-tri-ple-step-tri-ple-step, although this rhythm varies throughout the dance. West Coast Swing also maintains a type of rubber band action, like all Swing dances, but it looks and feels quite different from the others. West Coast can be danced to a variety of music, from R&B to Country to 80's pop. All it requires is a solid beat and some funk to play with!

No matter what style you want to rock, we can help you jump, jive, and wail! Dance FX Studios has been around for 13 years now to get people out on the dance floor through private dance lessons and fun group classes. Even if swing isn't your thing, we offer everything else from Country dance, to Latin dance, to Tango. If you live in the greater Phoenix area, check out our studio in Mesa just off the 60 and the 101. We're a hop, skip, and a jump away from Tempe, Chandler, Gilbert, Scottsdale, and Phoenix, so call and set up an introductory lesson today. Just remember... It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing!

P.S. Want to check out some Swing Dancing in person? We're having a Swing Dance Party September 6 from 8-11PM with live music by Come Back Buddy! Only $15 ahead of time or $20 at the door, join us for a Swing dance lesson, refreshments, awesome music, and lots of dancing! Not only will there be plenty of students and other dancers, but there will be instructors available to ask questions or steal a dance. Newcomers welcome!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Hottest Social Dance Spots In and Around Phoenix, AZ

Looking to go out dancing in Arizona, but not sure where to go? Dance FX Studios in Mesa has got you covered. We've compiled a list of some of the hottest dance spots in the greater Phoenix area for some of the most popular dances out there. Want to do another style of dance and not sure where to go? Give us a call at 480-968-6177 and we'll help you out.

Argentine Tango

Nostalgias Milonga at Mijana
1290 N Scottsdale Rd.
Tempe, AZ 85281
8:30 PM - 11:30 PM
$5 Cover

Milonga Cooperativa at Bethany Lutheran Church
4300 N 82nd St.
Scottsdale, AZ
2:00 PM - 6:00 PM (Class or Practica from 2-3)
$5 Practica and Milonga, Class prices vary

Country Dancing

Denim and Diamonds
7336 E Main St.
Mesa, AZ 85207
Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays
6:00 PM - 2:00 AM 

Arizona Event Center

1300 S. Country Club Drive #105
Mesa, Arizona 85210
10:00 PM - 2:00 AM

Toby Keith's I Love This Bar And Grill
Any Location
Any Day
Open til 2 Fri and Sat

Latin Dancing

Havana Nights at Dave and Busters (Tempe Marketplace)
2000 E. Rio Salado Pkwy

Tempe, AZ 85281
Wednesdays, Sundays
7:00 PM - 12:00 AM
$5 cover on Wednedays, Free Sundays

Monarch Theatre
122 East Washington St.

Phoenix, AZ 85004
9:00 PM - 2:00 AM
$5 cover

TUMBAO at Mijana
1290 N. Scottsdale Rd., #107

Tempe, AZ 85281
9:00 PM - 2:00 AM
$10 cover, includes $2 drink

Salsamania at Pepin
7363 E Scottsdale Mall

Scottsdale, AZ 85251
10:00 PM - 2:00 AM
$10 cover

Swing Dancing

Hepkats at the Woman's Club of Mesa
200 N Macdonald
Mesa, AZ 85201
Mondays7:30 PM - 10:30 PM
$5 cover

The Duce
 525 S Central Ave
Phoenix, AZ 85004
Tuesdays7:00 PM - 12:00 AM
$8 cover

Kats Korner
446 E Broadway Rd
Mesa, AZ
7:15 PM - 11:00 PM
$7 cover, $5 with valid student ID

Lots of these places offer free group classes, but if you're looking to really shine out there, your best bet is private dance lessons. Try out our private lesson Introductory Offer for Country, Latin or Swing dancing to see how we can make you an awesome social dancer.  Group classes are a solid supplement to your private dance lessons, but you will definitely want to have a good base to build on.

Join us at Dance FX Studios and we can help you prepare for your nights out around Phoenix. We also host our fair share of dance parties and events for our dancer friends to party and play. In fact, join in the fun this Saturday, August 23, 2014 for our Kizomba Social, or check out our Swing Dance Party Saturday, September 6, 2014 with live music by Come Back Buddy. We hope to see YOU on the dance floor!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

How to Spot A Good Leader (on the Dance Floor)

Have you ever gone out dancing and spotted one couple on the dance floor that just looked AMAZING? Chances are, you can thank the guy for that. Now, don't get me wrong... The lady is doing her fair share of hard work to look good, but she can't do it without the help of a strong leader. No matter how pretty the painting, you can't look at it if there isn't a solid frame holding it up, right? Right. A good leader can be hard to find, but he is definitely worth the hunt. Here are a few helpful hints from the professionals at Dance FX Studios for spotting a great lead so you can guarantee yourself a phenomenal dance.

The lady looks comfortable and the dance looks easy.

If someone looks like they're trying really hard, they probably are. Dancing on a social floor isn't necessarily easy, but it should generally look that way. Whether you're Salsa dancing at a Latin dance club or dancing the Country Two Step in a local Country bar, a good leader is consistent in his lead and knows how to guide a woman properly. When a leader knows what he's doing, his follower shouldn't have to struggle to get through the dance. If the woman looks lost and confused, her leader is in all likelihood giving her mixed signals.

Now, a lady could look confused on the dance floor because she doesn't know how to follow. This only brings up my next point that...

He dances to his partner's level, not above it.

If a good leader is dancing with a less-than-experienced follower, he isn't going to try tons of crazy moves. Since it's his job to make the lady look great, a good leader will determine the level of his follower and go from there. By simplifying his moves, he can keep the lady looking and feeling good instead of one-upping her. If you know a lady isn't necessarily the best follower, but she still looks like a competent dancer, her partner is doing something right.

A good leader also knows how to up his game with more advanced followers. He can pull out the tricks AND lead them with the right lady. But be aware... Just because someone knows cool moves, it doesn't mean he knows how to lead him. If the lady is struggling with the basics of Swing dancing and her leader is trying to drag her through flips and tricks, he isn't a considerate leader. Be wary.

Ladies ask him to dance.

The biggest telltale sign of a good leader? He doesn't have to ask women to dance... because they ask him. I don't mean a random girl happens to ask a random guy who happens to be standing next to her. I mean ladies beeline toward him the second they see he is free for a chance to dance with him. You think I'm kidding? I'm not.  If a guy is a good leader, ladies will compete to dance with him all the time. Watch for it, and stand in line to snag a dance.

He acknowledges his mistakes.

I'll be honest... This doesn't really mean a guy is a good leader. This just means he's a leader I want to dance with. Bad leaders will blame you for their poor lead and good leaders will blame themselves even if it's your fault. If a turn isn't executed perfectly or they end up off the music, a good leader will apologize and fix it. If that happens, he's probably been trained properly through private dance lessons to know how lead and follow works. (Hint hint, guys: if you get to be in charge, you get to claim the mess ups. Sorry not sorry.)

If you're looking to become the leader on the dance floor that everyone wants to dance with, or the follower that every good leader wants to dance with, check out Dance FX Studios in Mesa, AZ. As the only social partner dance studio in Arizona, we focus on teaching true lead and follow techniques so you can be the best dancer out there. Although you can get a lot more out of the one-on-one experience of private dance lessons, even our group dance classes focus on creating amazing leaders and followers. Just off the 101 and the 60, Dance FX Studios is easy to access from Scottsdale, Tempe, Chandler, Gilbert, and Phoenix. Join us to become the best Latin, Country, Swing, or Argentine Tango dancer on the dance floor in Arizona!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Popular 2014 Country Line Dances in Arizona

How well do you know your line dances? If you've been to a Country bar recently (or ever, for that matter) you've probably seen your fair share of Two Stepping, Swing Dancing, and Line Dancing. Here in Arizona, we've got plenty of Country bars and plenty of Line Dances to learn. We've spent our Summer at Dance FX Studios in Mesa, Arizona teaching some of the most popular line dances out there to help get you guys out on the dance floor. Not sure which ones you need to know to fit in? Here's our top 5 list with our go-to standbys and some newer additions:

1. Copperhead Road - Steve Earle

This one's pretty easy. Don't let it fool you though - you'll get a definite workout with all the jumps and kicks! Head on over to Cactus Moon at Mesa Riverview and give it a shot. They've got a nice big floor with plenty of room, so you don't have to worry about accidentally kicking anyone.


2. Fake ID - Big and Rich

Fake ID is pretty new, but you can't go to a Country bar without it playing at least once. This dance is tricky, so it'll take some time to pick it up. With patience, you can be out there with the best of 'em!


3. Boot Scootin' Boogie - Brooks & Dunn

An oldie, but a goodie! Boot Scootin' Boogie has been around for ages. Not too hard and definitely worth learning if you don't know it already. Throw on your favorite boots, swing by Toby Keith's, and get to scootin'!


4. Footloose - Blake Shelton

Footloose has been around for a while, but it remains popular to this day. It's another challenging one, so commit some extra time to learning it before heading out! You can probably catch it at Denim and Diamonds if you're there on a busy night.


5. Whiskey Drinkin' - Mikel Knight

Whiskey Drinkin' has been around for a few years and there are a few variations of this particular line dance. There are simple, intermediate, and advanced versions, so don't be afraid to learn it and get out there. Stop by Dance FX Studios in Mesa, AZ this Friday at 6 PM to learn this one. Drop ins are only $7, so you can get comfy before you try this one out and about.

Now, there are plenty of other line dances for you to learn that aren't on that list. In fact, we teach a new line dance every Friday night! If there's a dance in particular that you want to learn, feel free to shoot us an email at and let us know. We'll be sure to put it in the rotation. Want to get some more skills in your partner dancing, too? We also have awesome Two-Step and Country Swing group classes and private dance lessons. We're just off the 60 and the 101 with easy access to most of the greater Phoenix area, so check us out and let's get to dancing!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Country Dancing Do's and Dont's

If you're new to the Country Dance scene, it's always good to know the rules of the dance floor. Here in Arizona, we've got a few standard rules to keep the peace in our bars. We at Dance FX Studios have decided to share with you the top 3 rules of dance floor etiquette so you don't make a fool of yourself when you decide to get out there.

1. Progressive on the outside, Rhythm, Line, and Swing on the inside.

This rule is taken straight from the old school ballrooms. If you and your partner are traveling along the floor, keep on the outside and travel counterclockwise (think Nascar). This is known as line of dance or LOD. Faster couples should stay in the farther outside lanes, and slower couples closer to the inside. If you're a Rhythm (Arizona) Two Stepper or prefer to Line Dance, keep it to the middle of the dance floor. This way, you're a lot less likely to be run over by a fellow dancer! Oh, and if you aren't dancing, there isn't room for you on the floor. Take your conversation elsewhere.

*Unfortunately, a lot of dancers ignore this rule. If there's no room for Progressive (Texas) Two Step, BE NICE. Keep your steps small and work on your maneuvering. You aren't the only one on the floor, so be respectful of the dancers around you. If everyone is predominantly dancing Rhythm Two Step or Country Swing, it may be a good idea to try to adapt.

2. No glass, booze, or lit cigarettes on the dance floor.

You don't bring glass to a pool, so don't bring it on the dance floor. Be nice and keep the drinking at the bar. As tempting as it is to try to twirl a girl with a drink in your hand, it's incredibly dangerous. There isn't usually a lot of room, so the likelihood of that beer bottle getting knocked out of your hand is pretty high. Now... Picture a few hundred dancers in slick cowboy boots trying to dance across broken glass and a wet, slippery floor. Doesn't end well, does it? Keep the spilled drinks and hazardous materials away from the people who are just trying to have a good time.

This all goes double for lit cigarettes on an outdoor floor. I doubt you want to accidentally burn someone who brushes by you. Keep it classy and take your smoking to the side.

3. No tricks or flips on a crowded floor.

Again, this all comes down to safety. True Country has made its way into bars over the last few years, but a lot of dance halls are starting to ban the crazy flips and dips due to liability issues. Tricks are lots of fun when you've practiced them with a regular partner and you have lots of space, but there is no room for them on a crowded dance floor. It is incredibly dangerous to be thrown into the air by a stranger because you haven't properly communicated what type of lift is going to happen, nor have you trained to execute it safely. The pros in youtube videos have practiced those lifts together for ages, so they are going to look a lot better than you when you drop that girl you just met. 

The other side of this is, even if you've been dancing with this partner and practiced everything for years, there is no accounting for everyone else on the floor. New dancers don't always know to keep an eye out for tricks and may very well dance right under your lift. Save yourself the lawsuit and keep the lifts for the performances.

If you're looking to learn to dance Country the right way, rules and all, join us at Dance FX Studios. Located in Mesa, just off the 60 and the 101, we are a hop, skip, and a jump away from just about anywhere in the greater Phoenix metroplex. We offer customized private dance lessons to give you the best one-on-one learning experience and group dance classes if you're looking for something a with a bit more of a crowd. Not sure if Country Dance is your thing? We also teach Latin, Argentine Tango, Ballroom, Swing, and more! Come check us out and get your boots scootin' the right way.