Saturday, February 20, 2010

Partner dancing in Oxford

Today a friend emailed me. His friend was interested in learning to to dance in Oxford - or in his words "a beginner's class in Ball room (sic) or something." I've been asked this a few times before, as I used to be a dance teacher.
Now I'm only really a social partner dancer. I haven't entered a competition for ages, and for me dancing means leading a girl around the floor. So if you want to know about street dance, belly dancing or ballet then I'm not really qualified to answer. So here is my answer for him, slightly edited. I hope others find it useful.
Cheapest for ballroom is the Oxford University dance sport club ( You don't have to be a member of the University, but most of the classes are in term time, though they do some out of term. There is also dance rhythms ( who also teach good lessons. Ballroom isn't the easiest to learn in my opinion. Neither are very sociable - dancesport tends to have loads of girls over so don't go without a partner if you are a girl, and Dance Rhythms tends to be an older crowd who come as couples. Again, I don't think I'd want to turn up without a partner.
Easiest partner dance in my opinion to learn is Modern Jive AKA Ceroc, Leroc, MoJive ... There are two local companies: Ceroc Oxford ( and Jive Plus (, and both of them give good lessons. Both are a really sociable night out, with a DJ afterward, so I think more fun than traditional ballroom lessons. Music a real mix from 40's to current chart stuff.
Salsa - there are loads in Oxford. Again the University society is cheaper and takes non-students: I've also been to and they were pretty good too. Salsa is probably a bit harder than jive, but again usually pretty sociable. Music is always very Latin (unsurprisingly).
A bit more challenging but probably my favourite dance is swing/lindy hop. Two groups I'd recommend for a sociable night out: and Especially good if you already like big band/swing/jazz music, but fun whatever, it dancing got me into the music rather than the oter way round.
A newish one on the scene is West Coast Swing. Sexy Dancing style to RnB/chart type music. A lot of fun, and fairly easy, I guess a similar level to Salsa. Friday's in Bicester, which is only about 10 mins drive from Oxford
So in summary in terms of difficulty: modern jive easier than salsa, which is about the same as west coast swing, which are both easier than Lindy Hop, which is probably about the same as ballroom. NB, this is difficulty to start to learn, not difficulty to master,

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