Special Note from the Author
Part I — The World of Social Partner Dance
Chapter 1 The Spirit Of Social Dancing
Chapter 2 How It Improves Your Life
Chapter 3 Over The Centuries
Chapter 4 Social Dance Scenes
Part II — Popular Scenes and Styles in the 21st Century
Chapter 5 The Cheery Salsa
Chapter 6 The Amorous Bachata
Chapter 7 The Sublime Kizomba
Chapter 8 The Flowing Zouk
Chapter 9 The Festive Forro
Chapter 10 The Seductive Tango
Chapter 11 The Sporty Swing
Chapter 12 The Classy Ballroom
Part III — The Best Styles for You
Chapter 13 Dance Style Comparison Indicators
Chapter 14 Dance Style Comparison Tables
Part IV — The Courage to Social Dance
Chapter 15 Who Goes Social Dancing?
Chapter 16 Common Mainstream Beliefs
Chapter 17 Your Next Steps: The 30-Day Challenge
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About the Author
Work With Me
SPECIAL NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR
When I started writing this book more than three years ago, little did I know that when I would get close to publishing it, the whole world would be in a pandemic state. Here I was, trying to inspire people to improve their social lives and go dancing, while most of the world is in lockdown.
But then I thought to myself, there is no reason why I should let this crisis stop me from publishing this book. Although it is not the right time to go social dancing, it can be a great time to learn about it! Finalizing this book is one of the things that has kept me going during these difficult times. It has given me a new purpose and something to look forward to.
I hope that the COVID-19 crisis is long gone by the time you read this and that you are free to social dance whenever and wherever you like! In this case, you have no excuse for postponing the 30-day challenge presented at the end of the book!
In the unfortunate case that the world is not out of the woods yet, I hope this book acts as a reminder about the beauty and importance of human connection and helps you look forward to better days. You can add the 30-day challenge to your list of nice things to do once the world is safe again.
If you are feeling down, be strong! When the time comes for the world to go from social isolation to social celebration again, we will be ready!
And yes, we will social dance!
I’m so glad you picked up this book. It always makes me happy knowing other people share an interest in this amazingly unique activity. If you are not a social dancer yet, I guarantee that by the time you reach the end of this book, you will be well on your way to becoming one! And if you are already a social dancer, I promise you will discover a lot of new things about your passion! If you are a social dance teacher, stick around — I’m confident you will be able to use this book to help your students.
Is This Book Right For You?
Maybe you are feeling bored or lonely and are looking for a new hobby that will help you get your ass off the couch and stay active. You would like to connect with people and spice up your social life. But until now, you had never really considered social dancing. You are wondering if this activity could be a good fit for you, and you would like to learn more about it.
Or you already know you want to start social dancing. You may have had this desire for a long time, but you’ve never really gotten around to it. You just need that little extra nudge to get you moving in the right direction. Or you may already be familiar with other types of dancing, maybe even competitive dancing, and would now like to focus on the social aspect of partner dancing.
Or maybe you have just started taking dance classes and are feeling a little overwhelmed with all the different styles of dance. You would love to see the bigger picture of how all these styles fit together. You spend hours browsing online, but all the scattered information is driving you crazy. If only you could find that one place that presents it all to you on a silver platter!
If any of these descriptions sounds like you, then you are in luck!
Social partner dancing may be a little intimidating for those who are not familiar with it. It is an unstructured discipline, so it is easy to feel lost, overwhelmed, or misinformed. This inspiring and educational book is ideal for newcomers, students, and anybody who would like to discover what this activity has to offer.
The book takes you through a journey in the world of social partner dance where you will:
· Explore the world of salsa, bachata, kizomba, zouk, forro, tango, swing, and ballroom.
· Discover the origins of these dances and see how they evolved over time.
· Compare over 35 of the most popular partner dance styles in the 21st century.
· Find the best styles for you, depending on your physical needs and preferences.
· Understand and challenge common mainstream beliefs about social partner dance.
· Get rid of any doubts, fears, concerns, misconceptions, or taboos, and start dancing!
What if you are a more experienced dancer and have already been dancing for a few years now? In this case, I cannot promise you will learn a lot of new things about the dances you are already familiar with. But I guarantee you will get a wider overall view of all the different styles out there — and I bet you will also discover a few styles you didn’t even know existed! You will also find tips on how you can improve your social dance experience and positively influence other dancers in the process.
You might even have taken your passion a step further and taken on the role of a social dance teacher. In this case, you can use this resource to raise public awareness about social dance in your local area and grow your community. You can also use it as a schoolbook for those students wishing to expand their general knowledge about social dance.
Who Am I To Write About Social Dance?
I feel blessed to have discovered my passion and to be able to indulge in it. I have enjoyed moving to music for as long as I can remember and have been social partner dancing for over 10 years. I particularly like combining my joy of travel with social dancing. I have danced with thousands of people in more than 15 countries and attended workshops with some of the most influential instructors in the world.
My specialty is my ability to adapt to different dances and partners. I am very open to new experiences, and I simply love discovering new styles and the cultures that go with them. Over the years, I have gained experience in most of the styles described in this book — to varying degrees, of course. There are some dances that I adore and practice regularly, others I practice occasionally, and some that do not appeal to me so much. We all have our preferences!
Unfortunately, some people go through their whole life without ever discovering their true passion, and that is sad!
In this book, I raise awareness about the world of social partner dance and help you discover what this fun-filled, challenging, and potentially life-changing activity is all about. My intention is to inspire, encourage, and help you on your social dance journey. I draw on my experience, observations, and critical eye to present you with an unbiased view of the most popular styles available in the world today. I also put my analytical mind to work to help you find the most suitable styles for you. As a wellbeing advocate and an emotionally intelligent and sensitive introvert, I help you see how practicing social partner dancing on a regular basis can greatly improve the quality of your life.
I believe that social partner dance is a real source of energy in life that everyone can, and should, benefit from. It is a great way to connect with others, keep active, and add some fun to your life. In the long term, this contributes to your overall wellbeing and helps you lead a healthier, happier, and more connected life.
I also strongly believe that books have the power to change lives. In fact, it was after reading John C. Maxwell’s The Power of Significance: How Purpose Changes Your Life that I felt truly inspired and got the last kick I needed to start writing!
There is a quote by Martha Graham that really resonates with me: “People have asked me why I chose to be a dancer. I did not choose. I was chosen to be a dancer, and with that, you live all your life.”
If you feel the same way, don’t ignore your passion. Follow your dream. You only get to live once. Grab this opportunity today and take a step further on your social dance journey!
What Will You Learn From Reading This Book?
Depending on your social dance experience, this book will help you in different ways.
If you are a newbie (never social danced before or just started):
· Discover the world of social partner dance and the opportunities it brings
· See how social dance improves your health, social life, and personal growth
· Understand the core principles and values of social dance communities
· Take a peek into the top eight social dance scenes in the world today
· Explore and compare over 35 popular social partner dance styles
· Find the most suitable styles for you depending on your needs and preferences
· See who goes social dancing and get the motivation you need to start dancing too
· Get rid of any doubts, fears, or self-limiting beliefs that may be holding you back
If you are a more experienced social dancer:
· Enrich and deepen your knowledge of different social partner dance styles
· Improve your social dance experience by putting the principles and values into practice
· Learn about the culture of your favorite dance styles and how they evolved over time
· Get a clear, high-level overview of how different dance and musical styles fit together
· Use this as a one-stop reference book for social dance styles
If you are a social dance teacher or industry professional:
· Use the book to raise awareness about social dance in your local area
· Potentially attract new clients and grow your community
· Cultivate a healthy social dance environment based on core values
· Establish a common dance vocabulary among your students or clients
· Use this as a schoolbook or complementary teaching material
Please note that this book will not teach you how to dance. If you would like to learn the techniques, steps, and moves of a specific dance, the best thing for you is to join a dance class near you! What this book will do is help you discover the world of social dance and all it has to offer you by presenting you with:
✓ A mini encyclopedia — showing the most popular social dance styles today and a historical timeline of social dance.
✓ A framework — including eight comparison indicators for selecting the most suitable partner dance styles for you.
✓ Inspiring stories — including tips for overcoming 15 self-limiting beliefs that will give you the motivation and encouragement you need to social dance.
How To Use This Book
To get the most out of this book, simply go through the chapters in order. To further enrich your experience, you can greatly benefit from a set of free video compilations to visualize the dance styles described in this book.
· An eight-day video compilation — showing the most popular partner dance styles in the world today. This is useful for viewing the styles described in chapters 5 to 12, which include salsa, bachata, kizomba, zouk, forro, tango, swing, and ballroom. You can get instant access right now at yestosocialdance.com/popular.
· A five-day video compilation — showing the evolution of partner dancing from the 16th to the 20th century. This is useful for viewing the styles described in chapter 3. You can get instant access right now at yestosocialdance.com/history.
CHAPTER 1: THE SPIRIT OF SOCIAL DANCING
What comes to your mind when you think of social partner dancing? Is it a large, majestic hall with chandeliers and lots of dancers gliding around in beautiful ball gowns? Athletic-looking couples in sexy outfits doing all sorts of acrobatic moves? Couples grinding and swaying against each other? A dance floor full of elegantly dressed dancers all doing their thing and trying to impress everybody around them? Couples desperately trying to dance but making a complete mess instead? Depending on your experience, your view will be different.
Fundamentally, social dancing is an informal and relaxing activity that is performed purely for the well being of the dancers. The purpose of a social dance is the pleasure of the dance itself. It has nothing to do with meeting defined technical standards or satisfying an audience, as in the case of show and competitive dancing.
Social dance is about expressing, not impressing. About sharing, not competing. About feeling, improvisation, and spontaneity, not the precise execution of choreography. It is about celebrating and sharing the joy of dance by appreciating and being grateful for the beautiful moments shared with other people. Above all, it is about creating connection with your dance partners, which can be a little challenging if you are used to always dancing with the same partner.
Social dancing is about feeling, expression, and connection; it is not about performance, impression, or competition.
In social dancing, you don’t have an external destination. It is all about enjoying the journey — one that is filled with new discoveries, feelings of joy, true exchange, and endless creativity. It is a wholesome experience that brings people together in a friendly atmosphere and fosters authentic, soul-to-soul interactions.
Above all else, a social dance is a celebration of life and of each other. It is an opportunity to enjoy freedom and connection at the same time. It is also a means of showing gratitude for your body, your health, and the people around you. An authentic social dance is a gift you give to your partners by being truly present in the moment and giving them your full and undivided attention as you explore the music together.
Great social dancers are not necessarily the best, most experienced, or most talented dancers. They are not the ones who strive for ultimate perfection of performance. They are simply those who are capable of creating a rich and joyful social dance experience for themselves and their dance partners. If social dancing had an exam, the “judge” would not pay attention to how correctly you execute the moves in the eyes of others or according to defined standards. Instead, your success would be measured by how much you authentically connect and enjoy the dance. From a pure social dance perspective, the rest is superficial.
A social partner dance is a conversation; the technique is your language; the music is your topic.
A good way to understand the basic principles of a social partner dance is to think of it as a conversation. To have a successful and meaningful conversation, you do your best to communicate. You try to listen, to understand, and to respond appropriately. It is the same in social dance. Communication needs to flow both ways, and both partners need to listen, feel, and adapt to each other.
I’m sure you have participated in a conversation where you ignored the person in front of you. Or maybe you were the one who felt ignored. Sometimes it is easy to get wrapped up in your head and focus on impressing others, and in the process, you end up overlooking what the other person is really saying and feeling. This can also happen during a social dance. When you focus solely on the moves you want to do, or on impressing your partner or spectators, you give less attention to the person you are dancing with and may risk losing the connection.
Another thing about conversations is that they are fully improvised. They are never planned or rehearsed in advance. Otherwise, they would be called speeches, not conversations. Similarly, a social dance is about real-time, authentic connection. It cannot be planned out in advance, or it would be called a choreographed dance or a show.
During a conversation, in order to communicate effectively, you need to make proper use of the language. You need to have sufficient knowledge to choose your words and build proper sentences that are easily understood. When two people who do not speak the same language try to have a conversation, it can be quite frustrating. But if they speak different dialects of the same language, then with some patience on both sides, they may still be able to communicate.
In social dance, think of technique as your language. Being familiar with the same moves as your partner increases your potential of having an enjoyable and flowing dance. If you are not familiar at all with each other’s basic moves, the dance will not be so pleasant, though it may be funny! But if you are used to different variations of the moves, then with the right attitude, you will quite likely succeed in sharing an enjoyable dance.
A good conversation is not defined by the amount or complexity of the words that are spoken. Sometimes a lot more can be exchanged with a few simple words, and by paying attention to the silences, gestures, and expressions in between. Similarly, you don’t need a lot of moves or advanced figures to have a great dance. Application of the right technique, a good interpretation of the music, and a good connection with your partner are the basis for any successful social partner dance.
The last ingredient of a conversation is the topic. You need to feel concerned with the subject of the conversation. It doesn’t matter if it’s about religion, politics, or your grandma’s birthday — the topic needs to be meaningful to you. There is not much sense in having a conversation about something you are not interested in. You may do this to please someone else, or because you feel obliged to, but in such cases, you just end up having a sorry excuse for a conversation.
When a piece of music moves your heart, your body will yearn to paint a picture of it. Only then will you understand the power of musicality in dance. 
In a social dance, think of music as your topic. The music needs to captivate you. The more enthusiastic you are about it, the more passionate the dance will be. You may choose to dance to music that you do not really appreciate, but the dance will not be the same as when your heart is dancing to the rhythm. When a piece of music moves your heart, your body will yearn to paint a picture of it. Only then will you understand the power of musicality in dance.
In any area of your life, even when you are on the same wavelength with someone and agree on most things related to a certain topic, there are bound to be some differences. It is the same in dance. Dancers who love the same music may still feel and interpret it slightly differently in their own unique ways. Great social dancers are aware of this and recognize the need to allow enough space for both their own interpretation and that of their partner.
The pure spirit of social dancing is one of unity, bringing people from all sorts of backgrounds together to celebrate life. Authentic social dance communities are built on the core values of kindness, consent, humility, non-judgement, and non-rivalry. Being part of communities promoting these values can make a big difference in helping you discover the real beauty of social dancing.
 improvisation: The ability to create new moves, steps, or styling spontaneously, without prior planning.
 choreography: A composed dance where the sequence of steps, movements, and styling are planned out.
 connection: A physical, non-verbal means of communication enabling synchronized and harmonized movements during a partner dance.
 variation: A dance style having subtle differences from the main style, but which does not differ enough to be qualified as a separate style.
 musicality: How dancers hear, feel, interpret, respond to, and move to the music.