In this blog we’ll be covering how to create a safe place for dancing at home and what types of dance are on offer. We’ve also included some useful video links to help you get started.
If you’re able to add dancing to the activities you can do at home it has so many benefits. Being great exercise, you’re likely to see improvements in your weight management, flexibility and strength. Also, finding types of dancing you enjoy is a wonderful way of lifting your mood and easing anxieties. Dressing up (including fancy dress) from time to time can all add to the fun – the picture above comes from a time we varied lockdown dancing in the kitchen by wearing clothes we’d previously bought for going to a 1950’s party!
Where to dance at home?
Although we’re saying ‘kitchen’, in your situation it might be more suitable to choose somewhere else in your house or garden. Start by thinking about how you can create the largest safe space. This might involve moving furniture or rolling up rugs – whatever you can do to achieve a smooth (but not slippery) surface without trip hazards or anything you might knock over or bang into when dancing. A rectangularly shaped space will be useful if you’re likely to be learning dances with set steps. The larger the dance space you can safely make the better – so try taking you time to think ‘outside the box’ about this.
It’s worth considering whether you can make any semi-permanent changes that will reduce the amount of furniture moving needed each time you want to dance. For instance, early on in the first lockdown, we decided to move the big table which normally would be in the middle of our kitchen-diner. By putting it permanently against one wall, we only need to turn on the music and we’re ready for half an hour of dancing every night.
What can you do to keep safe whilst having fun dancing?
Once you have your safe space cleared, make sure that what you’re wearing won’t catch on anything. For example, avoid overly long wide trousers that you (or your partner) could tread on and cause you to fall.
Carefully try spinning around on one foot on the floor to see how it feels. Make sure the surface and your shoes are not too slippery to reduce the risk of slipping. Conversely, you also want to be able to turn sufficiently easily so that you are not putting a strain on your hip, knee or ankle. In addition starting off with low heels is advisable.
Before you start dancing, it’s important to warm up to gradually increase the blood flow to your muscles and this will reduce the risk of injury. Here’s a short example video:
Lucy Wyndham-Read’s Quick Basic Warm Up (1min 47sec) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BM2eOqTtS7Q
It’s important to build up your dancing gradually so as to avoid damage to any part of your body. If what you’re doing doesn’t feel good or is causing a twinge of pain, stop immediately. In particular, dances like the traditional Jive have a lot of bounce with the knees being raised high to achieve the ‘kicks and flicks’. It’s advisable to only do these ‘high impact’ dances on properly laid wooden sprung floors – dancing a jive on a hard floor can risk knee or other injuries, so is best avoided at home. Fortunately though, if you like the jive, there are a number of similar ‘Modern Jive’ dances which blend the jive steps with other types of dance steps to produce styles which are kinder to the joints.
What type of dancing to choose?
Of course, the easiest type of dancing to break into is the ‘bopping along to whatever music is playing’. This is great for times of spontaneity – it can quickly lift your mood and helps burn off the carbs. ‘Bopping around’ dancing is enjoyed by many, however, apart from recommending you get a good supply of music (streamed, downloaded or CD’s), there’s not much more to say about it, so in the rest of this blog, we’ll be thinking about dance types that have steps that are taught. We’ll firstly consider dances for two people (a leader and a follower) and then turn our attention to versions of these that you can dance if you’re on your own.
Dances with steps for two people dancing together
The dancers on ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ are encouraged to dance in ways that use as much of their large dancefloor as possible. The ballroom dances such as Quickstep, Slow Foxtrot, Waltz and Tango are not easily adapted to small spaces. Fortunately though, there are dances that are better suited, and we’ve chosen four – Modern Jive, Salsa, Argentine Tango and Cha Cha Cha:
As previously mentioned, Modern Jive blends jive steps with other types of dance steps and these can be danced to a wide variety of contemporary (or older-style) regular 4 beats-to-the-bar music. There are a number of different franchises that offer modern jive teaching and so depending on where you live, you might have heard of it as Ceroc, Le Roc or other local variations.
This range of 20 beginners’ videos filmed by Ginger Jive in 2006 provides some great step by step tuition to get you started: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLS031Z1m004CHNePRG_-y1rjUKe9xVUn4.
When people are more experienced in this style of dancing, slightly adapting the steps to suit the speed and style of the music makes this a very flexible type of dancing, as shown in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GQ3sOZ7tAZc
Salsa music has a very distinctive, lively, upbeat rhythm and it’s easy to get started with a few basic steps. With literally hundreds of short videos available on Salsaventura’s channel, this video is the one for people who’ve never danced Salsa before: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wV8cDpJa2f4&list=PLt7Alq7QGyFteWCpYi-s8Bc0VN0-l0zWS
The Argentine Tango is danced in a close hold with the dancers’ chests being closer together than their hips. Once a variety of steps have been learnt, the dancers can improvise with these to suit the expression of the music (which needs to have a particular rhythm and is often quite staccato, intense or melancholic). The following three videos provide very helpful tuition by Viva La Dance for people who have never previously danced:
Basic Argentine Tango for fun at home (20min 18sec)
Basic Argentine Tango Part 2 at home (19min) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3qHzyBHEuPk
Basic Argentine Tango for fun at home Part 3 (12min 18sec) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hCIgQPV_xoM
Cha Cha Cha
When we joined a dance class for beginners, the Cha Cha Cha was one of the first steps we learnt. The steps tend to be taught in little sets which make up a move. Some people string a number of moves together in what becomes their routine. A more advanced option for those well-practised in many moves, is for the leader to spontaneously join the moves together in an order of their own choosing – and to do this successfully relies on the leader also giving signals (‘leads’) to their partner so that the follower knows what move is about to be danced. Doing this can add much more variety and fun to the dancing. The two videos shown below are for people who have already mastered the most basic steps and want to add more moves to their repertoire:
Learn basic Cha Cha Cha, the Turkish Towel, for fun at home (15 min) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=az1qWrUYOS4
Dances with steps for solo dancers
As previously mentioned, modern jive draws inspiration from a variety of dance genres, and Ceroc Nu-line has developed as a kind of modern jive line dancing. Enjoy the videos (which include the teaching) to see what we mean:
Ceroc Nu-line 2018 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HIDuaWljXqo&t=129s
Ceroc Nu-line 2016 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6JmhU1rPqb0&t=85s