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How To Identify Ballroom Dancing Styles

You've watched the stars dance, and now you want to, too. First you've got to become familiar with what ballroom dancing is all about.


  • Step 1: 5 Step Recognize the International Latin styles. The Cha Cha is in 4/4, 128 BPM, [BMP OR BPM
  • Step 2: Listen to the music associated with each dance. You can find ballroom dance music at most record stores, libraries, and online. This is one of the best ways to familiarize yourself with the sound your feet will be tapping to, once you've learned the styles.
  • FACT: The ancient Greeks considered dance to be an extension of intellectual abilities. In fact, Plato said, "To sing well and to dance well is to be well-educated."
  • Step 3: Recognize the International Standard styles. The waltz is 3/4 meter, 80 to 90 BPM, and 1-2-3, 1-2-3 -- with the accent on 1. The tango is 4/4, 128 to 132 BPM, and quick-quick-slow. The foxtrot is in 4/4, 112 to 120 BPM, and slow-quick-quick. The quick step is in 4/4, 200 to 208 BPM, and a slow-quick-quick rhythm.
  • Step 4: Identify American Rhythm styles. Cha-cha is a 4/4 meter, 112 to 120 BPM, and 2-3-4-1 beat with an accent on the 1 beat. Rumba is a 4/4 meter, 128 BPM, and is slow-quick-quick. The east coast swing is a 4/4 meter, 136 to 144 BPM, and 1-a-2, 1-a-2, 1, 2 -- accent on 2. Bolero has a 4/4 meter, 96 BPM, and a slow-quick-quick rhythm. Mambo meter is 4/4, 188 to 204 BPM, and 2-3-4-1 rhythm.
  • Step 5: Understand the American Smooth styles. The waltz is a 3/4 meter, 84 to 96 beats per minute, or BPM, and a 1-2-3 rhythm with the 1 beat accented. The tango has a 4/4 meter, 120 to 128 BPM, and quick-quick-slow rhythm. The foxtrot has a 4/4 meter, 120 to 136 BPM, and slow-quick-quick rhythm. The Viennese waltz has a 3/4 or 6/8 meter, 162 BPM, and a 1-2-3 rhythm with an accent on the 1.
  • TIP: The higher the BPM, the faster the song's tempo.
  • Step 6: Identify the two categories of ballroom dancing -- American and International. Within the American style there are Smooth and Rhythm; within the International, there are Standard and Latin styles.

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