Sunday, October 11, 2009

Ready for the first dance?

JT and I are ready for ours...well, almost! We've been practicing, and it's getting pretty good. A few more times, and we'll have our first dance down cold.

If you're thinking of learning to dance for your wedding (or for anyone else's), I've got a great tip for you: UCSD recreation classes. Ballroom dance lessons have never been cheap. And I imagine with the popularity of shows like Dancing with the Stars, ballroom studios are probably taking the opportunity to clean up. JT and I had sporadically taken dance lessons in the past. A waltz lesson with our friends when they were getting married, a few tango classes just for kicks. I remembered how expensive those tango classes were -- about $10 per person, per lesson. When JT and I talked about taking more serious lessons for the wedding, I started searching. All the ballroom studios charged at least as much as we had paid previously, some even $12 per person per class. And that was just for the group classes. Plenty of studios are touting their "wedding package" that includes a few private lessons for a few hundred dollars.

So I cranked up my internet sleuthing and found a few free and low cost options. The Balboa Park Dancers offer low cost lessons, and the Vintage Social Dancers offer free lessons in the park as well. The problem with these classes, though, was that classes are usually once a month (not great if you are a beginner and need more regular practice) and are taught by volunteers. No offense to the volunteers, but their instruction wasn't really cutting it for us. Then, by total accident, I stumbled across the UCSD recreation class schedule, and the answer was staring me right in the face: Beginning Ballroom Dance for Couples.

The beauty of this class is that it's taught by a professional dancer and there's no partner switching. Ideal for wedding couples. Also, the class focuses on a different style each week. You'll start out learning East Coast Swing one week, then salsa the next week and foxtrot the week after that. Sounds like a lot to take in, but we found that the more styles we learned, the easier it was to pick up on new ones. And the best part is the price: the sign up fee is $42 per person (if you are a UCSD student, only $32). For 8 weeks of classes, that comes out to about $5 per person. Half the price of a studio, but with the same caliber of instruction!

*Photo by Aaron Thompson

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