Thursday, September 25, 2014

Dance Floor Defense: A Woman's Guide

Hey ladies! We already know that the dance floor is a fun, exciting place to be. If you've taken a few private country dancing lessons or a couple group dance classes, you probably even have some sweet moves under your belt. But how do you guarantee yourself a fun, safe time? Aside from a proper knowledge of your favorite dances, every woman should know her dance floor defense. In other words, you need to know how to accept/reject dances and deal with others on the floor. Most social dancing is still at bars, after all, so it's good to have a game plan for dealing with those who are a little more inebriated than you're comfortable with.

Accepting and rejecting dances

When you're first venturing into the world of social dance, the best way to practice is by getting out on the dance floor! Those swing dancing lessons will only get you so far if you never take them out of the studio. 

The biggest rookie mistake I see? Never knowing when to say no. For the most part, you want to accept dance invitations that are offered to you. After all, you need to practice with multiple leaders to really work on your follow. But there is definitely a time to turn down a dance, so don't be afraid to! There is such a thing as exhaustion - if you need a water break, take one! If you need to turn a guy down to take your break, just be sure to find him later and make up for it.

Another thing to keep in mind is that you are never required to dance with anyone. If you danced with him already and felt unsafe with his lead, feel free to say no thanks! If he seems too intoxicated to dance safely, no thank you. If he's been harassing you or your friends, beat it. The dance floor should always be safe, and you have every right to guarantee that for yourself. Most guys are very accepting if you turn down their invitation politely. After all, there are plenty of other ladies for them to dance with!

(Note: If a guy doesn't accept your rejection or really hassles you about it, don't be afraid to notify security. The majority of dancers are friendly, polite, and understanding... but occasionally you may run into a bad egg. Call him out so he can't harass you or others.)

Mid-dance tactics

A touchy subject for a lot of newer dancers is proximity. Especially if you're checking out the Latin dancing scene, a few of the dances are intended to be danced closely. In no way does it mean that it is required, but it does mean that some men might get into your personal space without your permission. 90% of the time they mean nothing by it, but it doesn't mean you have to be okay with it. So how do you cope when a guy gets too close? 

Strong arm him.

This all comes down to your frame. If you've been to a social dance studio like Dance FX Studios for private dance lessons, you'll have learned how to properly hold your arms and body to dance with a partner. Where is your left hand? On your dance partner's right shoulder. This gives you the perfect leverage to keep your distance when you want it. If he manages to sneak in anyway, don't be afraid to really get your arm in there. I'm talking get your hand on his chest and push. Some guys really don't get the hint, and if you're uncomfortable, there's no shame in it! Don't worry about being rude - he was rude by assuming his closeness was welcome. Luckily, most guys will get the hint long before if gets to that point.

*There's also no shame in avoiding close dances if you know you'll be uncomfortable. Or, make a point to only dance them with people you are comfortable with.

After the first dance

Occasionally you'll have dancers who want to continue dancing with you after your first dance. If the song easily transitions from one Country Two Step dance to another, he may just keep dancing. If you want to continue your dance, go for it! If you've had enough, stop moving and thank him for the dance. This lets him know you enjoyed your time, but you're ready for a break or your next partner. It's generally considered rude for a man to monopolize a woman on the dance floor unless they came together or are specifically dance partners. In other words, feel free to give him a few dances, but try to break them up or stick with 3 in a row as a maximum. That way you can both enjoy each other's company while giving other people a chance to dance!

Need more pointers for the dance floor? Check out Dance FX Studios in Mesa, AZ for all your social dancing needs. Our instructors are here to prepare you for real world dancing, whether you want to Salsa, Swing, or anything in between! Join us just off the 60 and the 101 for completely personalized private dance lessons or for our super fun group dance classes. After some time with us, you'll be ready to put your dance floor defense to work! (Although, hopefully you won't need to!)

Friday, September 19, 2014

How Long Does it Take to Prepare the Perfect First Wedding Dance?

I would venture to say that 80% of couples that want a beautiful first dance have no idea how much time they should dedicate to learning their first dance. How do I know? Because as a wedding dance coordinator at Dance FX Studios, I get asked that question a lot. This is a tricky question to answer because it really varies from couple to couple. There are a few basic guidelines that I recommend for each bride and groom, but there are definitely variables that come into consideration when mapping out your wedding dance lessons.

As a general rule of thumb, we suggest starting your wedding dance preparations around 6-9 months before your wedding day. This time frame can really allow you to invest enough focus and time on your dance while still letting you get all your other planning done. The last thing you want to do is stress about learning your first wedding dance while frantically piecing together the last minute elements of your day. In fact, your first wedding dance should be the least stressful part of your day, as far as we're concerned!

A few other things to consider when you're planning out time for your first dance:

Are you looking for something simple and sweet, or do you want to rock the house with a crazy choreographed routine?

Simpler dances can still take a while if you want it to look natural and smooth, but you definitely need to be prepared for a good chunk of time if you want a showy number. Those viral video wedding dances are awesome, but they can only get that way with some solid practice time with a trained professional.

How many songs do you want to dance to?

The more songs you want, the more time you'll need. This is especially true if you're looking to dance multiple styles of dance. Most songs require different styles of dance, like Country Two Step or Swing dance, so you'll need enough time to learn each dance.

Say you don't have 6 to 9 months to prepare. Can you still have an amazingly beautiful first dance?

Of course! A good wedding dance coordinator should be able to adjust the level of difficulty to the amount of time you have to dedicate. At Dance FX Studios, we have packages as small as 5 hours (for those wedding couples who only have a few days to prepare) and go from there. Whether you have a week or a year, we can work with your schedule to make the perfect dance happen.

Need more answers? If you live in the greater Phoenix area, come join us for a wedding dance consultation! You can meet with one of our incredible instructors who will guide you through the planning process. We help with everything from picking music to making sure the dance you're dreaming of is possible in your dress (bring pictures!). We can even help prepare you for the rest of the night with private social dance lessons. Make your wedding day perfect with a first wedding dance made just for you and then dance the night away!

Friday, September 12, 2014

How to Ask A Girl to Dance on a Social Floor

Going out to social partner dance isn't quite like going to your average club. Because there is actual skill required for partner dancing, there is a little more etiquette that goes into it. Now, I'm not saying if you want to go Two Stepping that you need to memorize a handbook of rules. I'm just saying that there are certain simple guidelines that can help! If you're new to the dancing scene here in Arizona, or just want to brush up on your manners, the pros at Dance FX Studios have put together a little list of tips for asking a pretty lady to dance. Whether you're exploring Swing Dance or going to a Latin Dance club, the rules are pretty universal.

Picking your partner

How can you tell if a woman wants to dance? Check out her surroundings. Is she far away from the dance floor, having a drink, and fully engrossed a conversation? Probably not a good time to ask her to dance. Is she near the edge of the floor, hands free, and maybe even looking around a little? She's literally looking for a dance partner! For the most part, ladies that want to dance will make themselves accessible. They will stand near the floor where they can be easily seen and asked by other dancers.

Eye contact

If you are trying your hand at Argentine Tango, this is critical... After you choose who you want to dance with, make eye contact with her. This gives you a general idea of if she wants to dance with you without having to even ask. In a milonga (tango social), if the woman quickly looks away from you when you look at her, don't even ask. This is her polite way of declining a dance from a distance. If she maintains eye contact, you've got the green light! She has given you her permission to approach and invite her onto the floor.

Other social dance styles aren't quite as formal when it comes to this, but it's a good thing to keep in mind. If a girl is going out of her way to avoid eye contact as you make your way over, she's trying to show you she isn't interested without have to flat out say it. Take the hint and move on - there are plenty of other ladies to dance with! If she makes a point to maintain eye contact, she'll probably say yes. Go get her!

Asking her to dance

Emphasis on ask. Don't just say "Dance." Don't just grab her and drag her on the floor. I can assure you she would prefer a proper invitation to the floor. A sweet and simple, "Would you like to dance?" is just what she'd like to hear. If you feel it's too loud and don't want to yell, you can also extend your hand to her as a gesture. Again, not a grab, but an invitation.

Handling rejection

Now, even if a potential partner has given you every hint that she wants to dance, she may not actually be interested. Don't insist that she dance with you anyway or question why - she doesn't need a reason to want to sit out a dance. (Not to worry, it normally doesn't have to do with you. She could be tired, thirsty, in pain, or simply isn't feeling the song. Feel free to try again later!)

The number one rule when asking a girl to dance? Know the dance! If you're in the greater Phoenix area, join us at Dance FX Studios to hone your dancing skills. We offer super fun private dance lessons in everything from Country Dance to Ballroom - and everything in between. We are conveniently located off the 101 and the 60, near Tempe and Chandler, just minutes away from Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Gilbert. Let's get some skills under your belt so the ladies start asking you!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Dance Lessons - Better Than Counseling

Being a dance instructor is honestly one of the most rewarding careers a person can have. I'm not even exaggerating. At Dance FX Studios, we help people grow both in dance and in themselves. Don't believe me? Here's a post I read today that another instructor friend* wrote:

"Best private lesson ever! I had a couple I hadn't seen in 2 years ask me yesterday out of the blue for a private. After an hour of Bachata they decided this was a better investment than their marriage counseling! You can learn a lot about how to treat your partner if you pay attention ;) All 3 of us left happy."

*The instructor's identity is being kept anonymous for privacy purposes.

The best part about that story is that it is nowhere near the first time this has happened. I think every instructor I know has at least one (usually many more) stories of marriages that have been helped by dance lessons. Although it isn't as mainstream as counseling, private ballroom or social dance lessons have a reputation for bringing people together. Even one of the couples on "Married at First Sight" decided to give dance lessons a try!

No matter what style you decide to go for, be it Country Dancing or Swing Dancing, you can expect to grow closer in your relationship. Any type of partner dance requires an incredible amount of trust and respect for your partner. If this is missing in your day-to-day life, private dance lessons allow you to slowly build that with each lesson. This is especially true if you venture into a dance studio that focuses on true lead and follow, like Dance FX Studios. By focusing on the communication aspect of dance, instead of just learning routines, you learn to truly listen to one another!

Dance lessons are also great for bonding because you are working together to reach a goal. That is the definition of partnership... and marriage. By coming together to learn a new skill, you can support one another while working and growing together. Not only do you come out with a fun new hobby, but you come out with a renewed sense of respect for your partner's hard work. Learning to dance is a challenge, but it's a worthwhile challenge, no doubt.

Last but not least, dancing together is known to spark chemistry back into a romance that may have faded. There are a few sensual dances, such as Bachata and Argentine Tango, that are known for bringing a little fire back in your eyes. There's nothing quite like a man really taking charge on the dance floor, while allowing the woman to feel sexy, feminine, and graceful. If the passion has waned, these dances definitely bring some spark.

We love helping people grow together. Not only have we helped couples reconnect, but we've helped newer couples grow in their young love. Whether you're a seasoned veteran, or just getting started in the world of dance, partner dancing is an incredible tool to have in your back pocket. Join us at Dance FX Studios in Mesa, AZ for a little dance therapy. We're located just minutes away from Tempe, Scottsdale, Phoenix, Chandler, and Gilbert, ready to bring love back into your lives! Call us at 480-968-6177 and set up your introductory lesson today. Let's share the love!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Pro Tips: Breaking in New Dance Shoes

Whether you're hoping to rock a killer pair of heels for your wedding or you decided to invest in some new dance shoes for your Argentine Tango lessons, shoes can be a nightmare to break in. Proper shoes can make or break a dance, so at Dance FX Studios, we recommend breaking them in (especially wedding shoes) long before you actually need them.

**Note: If you're into Country dance or taking Swing dance lessons, you're probably not going to need to break in strappy heels. However, I suggest practicing in your favorite pair of cowboy boots or going out shoes! Even if you don't need to break in a new pair of shoes, your legs and feet will want to get accustomed to dancing in them :)

Here are some helpful hints for these rough times ahead. Power through, though! A real pair of dance Latin dance shoes will make your Salsa dancing that much easier, I promise!

Vaseline and olive oil

One of the biggest problems new shoes brings are blisters. If you have a pair of strappy heels, rub a little olive oil along the inner lining of the straps before you put them on. This can lesson the friction between the shoe and the delicate skin on the top of your foot. Another option is to apply some vaseline on any part of your foot that will rub against the shoe - under the straps or on the back of your heels. The same concept applies! It won't solve all problems, but it will keep the blisters at bay while the shoes stretch out.

Socks and blow dryers

If your shoes are a little too tight, grab your thickest pair of socks. Wear your thick socks under your shoes and take a blow dryer to them. The heat from the hair dryer can help stretch out difficult shoes.

Ice packs

Here's another nifty way to stretch out a pair of too-tight shoes. Fill two ziplock bags with water and place them in your shoes. Pop them in the freezer over night, and the water expansion will gradually loosen your shoes. Big help!

Liquid bandage and blister covers

If your shoes are still giving you trouble and you get a blister, help the blister heal with some liquid bandaid or a blister cover. No matter how much you break in your shoes, sometimes you just need to break in your feet. They will eventually callous over, causing your feet to be UNSTOPPABLE. Seriously, if you get callouses, no shoe will phase you.

Dance FX Studios has a full time staff of instructors helping people grow through private social dance lessons and group dance classes, so we know a thing or two about dance shoes. But, if you have a shoe tip that we missed, let us know in the comments! If you're in the greater Phoenix area and want to rock your first dance on your wedding day, or just want to get comfortable and confident on the dance floor, come by and see us! We offer Two Step, Tango, and everything in between. Located just off the 60 and the 101, we are easy to access from Tempe, Chandler, Gilbert, Phoenix, and Scottsdale. Grab your new shoes and let's get dancing!