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A Beginner’s Guide to Social Dancing (Plus Where to Do It from the Capital Region to the Adirondacks)

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Social Dancing & Where to Do It (Capital Region to the Adirondacks)

Social dancing is a little-known secret to adding pleasure to your life—it’s a great way to relax, meet new people, and burn off those extra calories. If you’ve always wanted to try it, this little guide will help get you on your way.

Social DancingBefore you get visions of televised ballroom dancing, you should know that social dancing is not the kind of dancing you see on “Dancing with the Stars”. You don’t have to have a partner to get involved and you won’t be spending agonizing hours rehearsing a routine. People from all walks of life meet for the first time on the dance floor with the common goal of dancing and having a great time.

Another important thing to know is that social dancing is not just one style. A variety of dance styles can actually fall under its category from Ballroom to Latin to Swing. Here’s a look at what some of these are:


Although Ballroom encompasses many dances,  two of the most popular are the Waltz and Foxtrot. These dances travel the entire dance floor. They’re elegant and beautiful, but don’t allow a lot of freedom for improvisation.


This Latin dance gives you a lot of freedom to do your own thing. When I first started learning salsa, I was appalled when my leader just walked away from me and started doing his own solo Salsa. I suppose that was my moment to shine with my own solo, but I couldn’t think of what to do, so I just stood there until he came back. Salsa is full of rhythm and flare as well as spins and turns that will literally make you dizzy. Thankfully, the basic steps are surprisingly easy to learn and the dance is popular in many venues, including restaurants and clubs.

East Coast Swing

The traditional “Big Band” swing. A very lively dance that can be danced to Big Band as well as some rock music. This is one of the easiest dances to master and it’s what I started out learning. I loved it because it was more instantly gratifying than any other dance I’d tried. It can be challenging, but you can move along quickly.

Lindy Hop

Argued as the “original” form of swing and also my personal favorite, it is more complicated than East Coast and is usually danced to Big Band and jazz music. It actually has local roots as it originated in Harlem, New York in the 1920s. Lindy can be big or small, fast or slow; it can be filled with frenzied kicks and jumps, or it can be very controlled and fluid. There is virtually no limit to what you can do.

West Coast Swing

A very different and smooth style of swing, it’s also a bit complicated to learn, but it can be danced to nearly every modern song you hear on the radio. The dance allows for a lot of improvisation, which gives you what you need to really explore and create your own style.

Social Dancing, Capital Region to the AdirondacksOne thing that shocked me when I started attending social dances was how inexpensive it was. I had paid a lot of money for my initial 6-week ballroom dancing course, so I was surprised to find that most dances cost between $10 and $15 to take a 1 hour lesson and stay for a 3 hour dance (Student discounts are usually offered as well). Not too bad for 4 hours of fun, new friends, and some much needed exercise.

For those of you interested in getting involved with social dancing, here are a few local dance venues to get you started:

For Social Dancing Events & Classes in Albany/Capital Region:
Albany Salsa
Albany Swing Dancing
Daisy Bakers, Troy—Swing
West Coast Dancing, Cohoes—Swing
Capital District Ballroom Dancing

For Saratoga:
Saratoga Savoy–All Types
Mine Nightclub (keep a watch on their FB page for Latin Thursdays; website is under construction).
Arthur Murray Dance Studio–Ballroom and Latin

For Warren County:
USA Dance, Adk Chapter in Glens Falls/Queensbury (has about 2 social dancing events per month)
Glens Falls Ballet & Dance Center—Ballroom

For Lake Placid/Saranac Lake:
Queen City Dance in Saranac Lake—Swing & Tango (other locations are in VT)

Or if you prefer: Do It at Home on Your Own

–Diana Yousfi is a Contributor to The Free George.

The Free George is the online magazine and visitors’ guide of Upstate NY, covering things from Albany to Lake Placid, including Saratoga, the Lake George region and the Adirondacks. Check out our new City Blogs section for our extended coverage areas as well.

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