Sharing The Joy Of Dancing


As you go through each day, you are surrounded by all kinds of music. Hopefully music brings joy to your life. To that you add the ingredient of dance which should bring even more enjoyment. The question then is how do you find the right Ballroom dance music. I would like to give you some ideas on what to look for when selecting dance music.

You can select from two different categories of music, popular and "Strict Tempo" ballroom dance music. The first category can be expensive because there may be only one or two "danceable" songs on each CD or tape. Also the tempo may not be consistent throughout the whole song. This would leave you to believe that if you buy music that says "Strict Tempo" you will always get good music. You will get music that has the same consistent tempo throughout the song, but the recording may be an organ, harmonica or synthesizer. In my opinion, the best sounding music is played by a large orchestra. I can hear you now, then what do I do? In the best of all worlds, the store will allow you to listen to the music before you buy it or has a generous return policy.

Before you head off to the store, let me give you some pointers on dance music. First let's define what "Strict Tempo" means. "Strict Tempo" means that the beat is the same throughout the song (does not speed up or slow down). The "tempo" of the song is usually defined in "measures per minute (mpm)" or "bars per minute (bpm)". These are the same thing but should not be confused with "beats per minute". The tempos for American and International style competition dancing are different and usually faster than social style dancing. The following are the tempos I find the easiest for beginning social dancers:

Cha Cha 31 mpm
E.C. Swing   34 mpm
Foxtrot 28 mpm
Rumba 28 mpm
Tango 32 mpm
Waltz 30 mpm

The other important thing to think about is that even though the title of the song may be one that you have heard and loved, the arrangement may be different. For example, the song "Fascination" can be a Foxtrot, Waltz or Viennese Waltz depending on the arrangement. So you need to be careful when buying popular music by song title. "Strict Tempo' ballroom music will indicate whether the song is a Foxtrot, Waltz, etc. Not all ballroom music will indicate mpm. If it is indicated, each dance will usually have a variety of tempos. If the mpm is not indicated, you can count the beats per minute and divide by 3 for Waltz and 4 for all other dances to get mpm.

You should dance at different tempos and pick the tempo that best fits your current dance level. As you continue to dance, your skill level will improve and you will find that you can dance comfortably to a variety of tempos.