Learning to Dance: What to Expect on Your Free Lesson at a Ballroom Dance Studio

As a child living in the suburbs of New York City, I enjoyed softball, Girl Scouts, and Band. I led a well-rounded life with lots of friends. It was fun. However, little did I know what a difference a free ballroom dance lesson would make in my life!

When I moved to the city in my early 20’s I was looking for a way to make some new friends.

That’s when I saw an ad for a free ballroom dance lesson at the Fred Astaire Dance Studio at 487 Park Avenue, the original studio that was co-founded by Fred Astaire himself on March 7, 1947. 

fred astaire teaching free ballroom dance lesson
Fred Astaire was a great dancer!

I called the studio to make an appointment for my complimentary ballroom dance lesson.

At the time I was working for ABC News on a children’s television show called Make a Wish starring Tom Chapin with music co-written by his brother Harry Chapin.  Best known for his folk-rock songs, Harry Chapin was an American singer-songwriter. He achieved worldwide success, beginning in the 1970s.

After a warm welcome and a bit of paperwork, I anxiously waited in the reception area.  It’s hard to be calm when you don’t know what to expect.  In fact, the point of this post is to let you know what to expect on your free ballroom dance lesson.  Meanwhile, your first question will probably be, “How’s this gonna go?“.

The chat before the free lesson.

More than likely you’ll meet the studio owner, manager, or a supervisor.  To begin with, he or she will explain the system that’s used to get you dancing as quickly as possible.  Many studios use a combination of private lessons, group classes, and dance parties.

You’ll discuss what you’re hoping to accomplish by learning to dance.  The benefits of dance are many and it’s kind of important for the instructor to know what you’re looking for.

For example, there’s no point in stressing the fact that dancing helps with weight loss if you’re already in great shape.  For me, meeting new people during my lessons, in the group classes, and at the dance parties was the big thing!

Check out this post on the “Top 10 Health Benefits of Ballroom Dancing” by Health Fitness Revolution. Also, if you need more reasons to start dancing, read the Dance Safari post, “5 Ways Ballroom Dancing Can Be Your Secret Weapon“.

My ballroom dance lesson.

After meeting your instructor it’s time to enjoy your sample lesson. You’ll get the tools to learn how to dance.  These are the elements that are used to create different dances.  Basically, it boils down to directional movement.  To be specific, moving forward, back, side to the left, side to the right.

You’ll be introduced to a few social dances, trying out a slow dance, a fast dance, a Latin dance, and possibly something with turns and spins.

Hey teacher, how did I do?

When your lesson is complete, your teacher will talk to you about what’s going on with your dancing right now.  He’ll discuss what you did well and what needs work.  If you’re in the right studio and working with the right teacher, you should feel pretty good at this point.  I felt sure that given time and effort I could learn to ballroom dance.

Next came the pitch.

That’s right, they asked me to buy some dance lessons.  But, of course! How else would I go about improving my dancing?  Well, there was no question that I was going to continue so I chose a small starter program.

I was happy that I tried the free lesson. That’s because it was fun, easy, and extremely motivating. The people I met, both staff and students, were friendly and welcoming. As I left the studio, I was already looking forward to my next lesson. And, you will be, too.

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