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Ballroom Dancing 101: How to Ballroom Dance

Ballroom dancing has evolved from a social dance for the privileged to a style of dance that is accessible to everyone. Perhaps the most widely known form of dance, variations of Ballroom dancing have often been showcased in popular culture on stage, movies, and television. The significance of Ballroom dancing has only continued to grow since it began in the 16 century, with world championship competitions still today.

The best part about this style of dance is that anyone can learn how to do it! With informative and free video tutorials, Howcast makes it easy to follow along and teach yourself how to ballroom dance like you never thought possible. Our Ballroom Dancing 101 series has video tutorials covering the most popular styles including: Waltz, Tango, Fox Trot, Cha Cha, Rumba, Samba, Mambo, and Jive!


The Waltz was a game-changer in the dance world. It was initially introduced as a country-folk style of dance in Austria and Bavaria, but once it was brought to England, it became what it is known as today. It was the first style of dance where a man held a woman so tightly. It was considered intimate and quite risqué for the time period.

The Waltz is characterized by a step, slide, step pattern. In ¾ time, couples dance closely, performing a smooth and controlled movement that is beautiful. Today, there are many popular variations and styles of the dance—so be sure to experiment so you can find whichever suits you best.

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The Tango is an Argentinian style of Ballroom dance that is a combination of flamenco and milonga. It is a fast and sensual style of dance that emerged in the 1880s in dance halls across Buenos Aires. In the 1900s, the Tango exploded onto the scene with popularity all over Europe. Musicians began to compose their own music specifically for the genre.

There are many variations of the Tango that are extremely popular around the world today, like the Argentine Tango, Uruguayan Tango, Finnish Tango and Ballroom tangos, both standard and American. The sensual and energetic style of the Tango is still a core component throughout all forms. Learn how to dance the tango with our free video series!

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Fox Trot

Since 1914, the Fox Trot has been a popular style of Ballroom Dance. Stylized after Ragtime music, the Fox Trot consists of methodical and slow movements, with walking steps, chassés, and quarter turns. This style of dance can be adapted for faster or slower music, making it fun for all tempos. Its versatility is the main reason this dance has remained so popular since the early 1900s. There are many Fox Trot styles out there, so there’s definitely something for everyone!

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Cha Cha

The Cha Cha is a Cuban style of Ballroom dance that originated from the Danzon, another Cuban dance. The Cha Cha is a fun, lively and sassy style of dance, which became popular in the 1950s. There are a few different versions of the Cha Cha, including Street Cha Cha, Country-Western, and Latin Street.

In true Latin dance fashion, dancers of the Cha Cha keep their feet close to the floor, follow intricate footwork, and can swing their hips freely to the music. Learn how to Cha Cha today with our free ballroom dancing videos!

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Rumba, also spelled Rhumba, is an Afro-Cuban style of dancing that gained recognition in the 1930s. There are two varieties of the dance performed today: American Style and International Style. This dance is a combination of the Cuban dance, the bolero-son, traditional Rumba, and conga.

The International Style of Rumba teaches a quick-quick-slow motion pattern, similar to the Cha Cha. Its most notable characteristic is the subtle hip movements going side to side while keeping the torso upright. Out of the Latin dances that are performed, the Rumba is the slowest. The Rumba is still performed in international competitions today!

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Samba emerged from Brazil and has gained worldwide popularity. A simple dance featuring forward and backward steps while rocking the body, this Ballroom dance is performed in couples—but dancers have the freedom to separate and perform a variety of stylized moves on their own as well. Brazilians also still perform the African influenced Samba, called batuque, which the known style is derived from. Unlike other Latin dance styles, the Samba has a specific hip choreography (while other dances let the hips flow freely).

The traditional Samba and the Ballroom Samba differ quite significantly, but it still has a lively and rhythmic style. Learn how to dance the Samba with our video tutorial!

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The Mambo dance style and music became a worldwide phenomenon in the 1940s. It originated in Latin America, and its popularity eventually took over the United States, where the dance replaced the Rumba as the most fashionable dance at the time. The dance is frequently portrayed in pop culture, including in the classic film “Dirty Dancing.” It is exciting, sensual, spicy and characterized by the fast motions of the dancers. Let’s mambo!

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Originating from the United States in the 1940s, Jive began as an African American dance style inspired by early forms of the Jitterbug and swing dancing. The Jive is similar to Rock n’ Roll dance but has a syncopated chassé in the choreography over time. Jive also encompasses a few other dance styles, including the ‘Boogie Woogie’ and swing boogie. After World War II, Boogie became the mainstream style of music, and the popularity of Jive began to really flourish.

Typically led by the male partner, the Jive has a basic six-count step. Counts one and two are the rock step: left foot back, then right foot. Counts three and four are Chassé to the left, and five and six are Chassé to the right.

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Learn How to Ballroom Dance

Learning how to ballroom dance is easy with Howcast! Explore our library of free how to videos on your favorite styles—or learn them all!

For even more great dance videos, check out our main How to Dance page, or discover new styles in our guide to the most popular types of dance.

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