How to Master Simple Ballroom Dancing

The pumpkin just turned into a carriage, your glass slippers look fantastic, and the Prince is on his way, but — dammit — you still need to learn how to ballroom dance.


Up next in Ballroom Dancing 101 (13 videos)

If Dancing with the Stars or an upcoming wedding has you eager to sharpen your dance skills, take ballroom dancing lessons with this Howcast video series. You'll learn how to swing dance, how to do a polka, how to cha-cha, how to dance New York-style salsa, and how to dance the samba, foxtrot, rumba, and tango. Picking up the dance moves is easy with the step-by-step instructions in these dance videos.

You Will Need

  • A partner
  • A dance floor
  • Masking tape
  • Waltz music
  • Breath freshener


  1. Step 1

    Get a partner

    While belly dancing and ballet can be done solo, ballroom dancing is always done in pairs. Ask a friend to help you out.

  2. Step 2

    Perfect your posture

    Perfect your posture. Unlike casual dancing, a ballroom dancer doesn’t slouch or lean on their partner. Both the man and the woman must elongate their neck and body. Practice correct posture by standing straight against a wall.

  3. Step 3

    Position the head

    Look over each other’s right shoulder. Now imagine you’re the most beautiful person on earth who has just met the other most beautiful person on earth. What’s that feel like? Exactly. Keep that expression throughout the dance.

  4. Step 4

    Adjust your hand position

    Hold hands correctly. This means the man’s raised left hand holds the woman’s right hand, palms facing each other. The man’s right hand connects with the woman’s shoulder blade. His hand should be cupped, fingers together. The woman’s left hand should be on the man’s right shoulder, her fingers at the seam of his sleeve.

  5. Step 5

    Position your body

    Having the perfect 'closed dance hold' means the woman is just slightly to the right of the man. This way the legs move between each other and the knees don’t hit.

  6. When the couple is a man and a woman, the man generally takes the lead. In couples with just one sex, a decision will have to be made.

  7. Step 6

    Draw a square on the floor

    Now that you have the basic positioning, learn the basic waltz box step, the most common step in ballroom dances like the rumba, waltz, or foxtrot. Start by taping out a small box on the floor.

  8. Step 7

    Practice counting

    Practice counting one, two, three, one, two, three, one, two, three. This will be the essential timing, and the sooner it feels natural, the better.

  9. Step 8

    Make a box with your feet

    Practice alone making a box with your feet. To make the first half of the box, step forward with your left foot — which is 'one' — and slide your right foot to meet it and then step to the right (two). Your weight now shifts to the right foot so your left slides to meet it (three).

  10. Step 9

    Finish the box

    Now finish the box. Step back with your right foot (one) and slide your left to meet it and then to the left (two). Your weight now shifts to the left foot so your right slides to meet it (three).

  11. If you’re in the women’s role, you will step backward to start.

  12. Step 10

    Practice counting to music

    Now put it together, doing the box step by yourself in time to your one-two-three counting.

  13. Step 11

    Practice with a partner

    Now practice with a partner. Count off five, six, seven, eight before you begin so you’ll both be prepared to start together on one.

  14. Dancing is a close contact sport. Make sure your breath is okay before you start. Use a breath freshener.

  15. Step 12

    Move around the floor

    After you feel comfortable with the box step, forget confining yourself strictly to the box, and let yourself move more naturally around the floor.

  16. Step 13

    Start to turn

    Once you’re able to loosen up while keeping time with the beat, try turning. Turn slightly to the right as you step on one and two; you’ll begin traveling in a circle as you keep your basic box pattern.

  17. Step 14

    Remember to maintain posture

    Remember to maintain your posture at all times, keeping your connection points. Stand up straight, Quasimodo! Good ballroom dancers never slouch or disconnect.

  18. Step 15

    Practice every chance you get

    Now that you know how to do a basic waltz box step, practice every chance you get. This is just the beginning. Get out there and dance, dance, dance!

  19. 'Waltz' comes from the German word 'walzen,' which means to turn or roll.