DJ, I Love This Song…What Dance Is It?

What dance is it?  It’s a mystery, isn’t it?  Seems like a lot of people who are new to this have asked that question at one time or another.  And the answer is, most of the time, it doesn’t much matter which one you do.

I must admit, however, that it’s different when you’re dancing in any type of ballroom competition. In that case, it very much matters what you do.  Of course, you’ll know in advance and the name of the dance will be announced.

In reality, you can do a number of different things to the same song.

Crazy, right? Just make sure you’re expressing the music.  Isn’t it true that when the song and your moves are in sync you’re pretty much one with the music?   And, you can’t beat that!

Choose which dance it is.

The idea of matching the mood of the music to the character of the dance is the way to go when you’re moving to popular music.  In many cases, pop music is not designed with a particular dance rhythm.  Coordinate your moves with the feeling of the music and you’re dancing – plain & simple.

Here are some examples of ballroom dance expressions.

  1. Happy – Carefree – Cool – Mellow
  2. Sad – Melancholy – Introspective
  3. Romantic – Sexy – Hot
  4. Playful – Party Animal – Loud
  5. Passionate – Strong – Aggressive

These are probably the most common social dances.  Let’s see how they match up with the moods.

Foxtrot – 1          Waltz – 2, 3          Tango – 5, 3          Rumba – 3         

 Cha Cha – 3, 4          Swing – 1, 4          Hustle – 4

To illustrate, see if you agree with this assessment of the character of the music.  You can find each of these songs on YouTube.

Foxtrot, 1:  “Fly Me to the Moon” … Frank Sinatra

Waltz, 2 & 3:  “Come Away with Me” … Norah Jones

Tango, 5 & 3:  “El Tango de Roxanne” … Moulin Rouge Soundtrack

Rumba, 3:  “Falling Into You” … Celine Dion

Cha Cha, 3 & 4:  “Uptown Funk” … Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars

Swing, 1 & 4:  “When I Get Low, I Get High” … The Speakeasy Three

Hustle, 4:  “Rock with You” … Michael Jackson

So, mess around with the music and see how it makes you feel.  Then match it up with some of the moves you’re learning and you’ll be dancing.  See how it really doesn’t matter?  Feel like you need some help finding the beat?  Please check out this Dance Safari post called, “Rhythmically Challenged?  It’s All in Your Head“.


If you enjoyed this post, please Like and Share below so others can enjoy it, too.  Thanks!


  1. Several things come to mind with this point. To me, the dance for the song depends on the tempo and support rhythms. A friend would tell me that foxtrot and tango are interchangeable – whereas I disagreed because the rhythms of one didn’t support the other. However, I do acknowledgeable that some songs are multi-dance.

    Personally, I occasionally like songs where the rhythm changes, so I change the dance.

    Meanwhile, as one who hears rhythms well, I realize that there are others who simply don’t.

    • I agree with you wholeheartedly. The main characteristics of Tango music are strength and power. That’s totally out of line with the easy-going carefree feel of the Foxtrot.

      I also like to mix the dances up when the music allows. Isn’t that what personal expression is all about?

      And, to your final point, this post is really directed to help the newbie dancer. Certainly, that’s not you! Thanks for your comment.

      PS – Good luck staying warm with that storm.

  2. One of the peculiarities, Barbara, I found regarding the varying dance rhythms is that once a figure is learned it can be danced, with perhaps a slight variance of timing, within many dance styles and routines. What a boon that was when I first began my dance instruction! I do mention this to beginners as I see them perplexed by the many figures to be learned. And, like me, I see relief upon their faces… 🙂

    • That’s the beauty of dancing, isn’t it? You don’t need to know a million steps to have fun. A few basics will do to get you going.

      By the way, how’s the Latin going? You haven’t mentioned much lately.

  3. […] Here’s a really cool list of different elements of Cha Cha music broken down into styles, like Latin, Country or Pop, as well as, speed or tempo of the music, “Authentic and Popular Cha Cha Music”. By the way, some people have a bit of trouble figuring out what dance goes to what music. If that’s you, refer to this Dance Safari post, “DJ, I Love This Song. What Dance is It?“ […]

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