If you talk to enough people, you will come up with a variety of answers to this question. Ballroom dancing is NOT just partnership dancing. Once you have some ballroom training and education, your definition for ballroom dancing changes and expands. Along with this, your xpectations for Ballroom Dances will also change. This includes everything from the size of the floor, the size of the crowd, and the music (band) that is played.
When you go to a ballroom dance, you expect a floor large enough for a line of dance for the smooth dances (Foxtrot, Waltz, Tango, etc.), and strict tempo dance music. You expect at least the six basic dances (Foxtrot, Waltz, Tango, Swing, Cha Cha, and Rumba) to be played.
Many self declared "ballroom dance bands" are really "swing bands" or "big bands". "Swing Bands" and "Big Bands" will play mostly Swings with some Foxtrots and a few, if any, other dances. However, once a group declares themselves a Ballroom Dance Band, they have just placed specific requirements and expectations on themselves.
The requirements are:
I have talked to musicians that say that strict tempo impacts their creativeness which may be true, but each different dance is designed from a movement and feeling stand point for a specific speed (mpm) and requires a constant tempo.
Each dance has a different feeling and character. This is determined by body movement and the rhythm and speed of the music.For example:
To avoid disappointment when going to a "Ballroom Dance" find out ahead of time: the size of the floor, size of the expected crowd, and what dances are going to be played.
Be aware, if you are going to a wedding, anniversary party, etc. and there is a "Dance Band", it usually means there will be popular music for "free style dancing" or limited partnership dancing because the floor is usually small. Most "Dance Bands" and DJ's can only play a request based on song titles not type of dance (example, Rumba, Cha Cha, etc.). Unfortunately, you can't always tell the dance by the song title. For example: the song "Fascination" can be a Waltz, Foxtrot, or Quickstep depending on the arrangement and the tempo.
In the 10 years I have ballroom danced, I have come across only one true Ballroom Dance Band. Every Ballroom Dance Competition I have attended used CD quality strict tempo dance music. These CDs are recorded specifically for ballroom dancing. The best strict tempo Ballroom Dance music comes from England, Germany and Japan. However, there is nothing quite like an excellent, live, real Ballroom Dance Band.