Dancing 101 – Types of Dance

Health & Well Being

46652285_mSummer is here – the days are longer and the nights are warmer. That can only mean one thing: It’s time to go dancing.

There are hundreds of types of dance you can learn. No matter the body type, age, or exercise regimen, there is a style of dance that will work for you. The fun part is finding those perfect moves. Here are a few different dance styles, their history, and a tip for each to get you started.

Of course, before you try these (or any other) dance, check first with a physician.

Salsa Dancing

What is it? Salsa is a style of dance that became popular in New York City in the seventies. It was heavily influenced by Latin American dancing. Though there are many variations of salsa, the basic rhythm involves three steps per four beats of music. Hips, shoulders, and feet move consistently. 

Why do it? This may be the most “energetic” dance on this list. If you’re a person who loves to move, salsa is the dance for you. There are several styles, including Cali-Style, Cuban Style, Miami Style, Los Angeles Style, and New York Style – each with their own movements and counts. Have fun going through them all and finding the one that’s best for you.

Training tip: Practice moving your body parts one at a time. Shoulders, hips, and ribs all move in sync while dancing salsa, but the greater control you have over each, the easier it may be.

Tap Dancing

What is it? The oldest dance on this list, tap has been around since the 1800s. It is a form that uses special shoes to make sounds on the floor. There are two widely agreed upon styles: jazz and Broadway.

Why do it? This is a great dance for the showman/showwoman in you. Perhaps more than any of the other forms on this list, tap dance is an opportunity to perform for others. While you can (and probably will) dance with one or more partners, there is a musical element to tap that makes the dancer a part of the band. Many tap dancers perform acapella (without music), allowing their feet to make the music for them!

Training tip: Since tap is almost entirely about your feet, be sure to get great shoes. The strength with which you dance and the materials the shoes are made from should be your focus as you buy.


Line Dancing

What is it? Line dancing is a choreographed style of dance done with a group, typically to country-western styles of music. Though it boomed in the eighties and nineties, line dancing started midway through the twentieth century.

Why do it? If you and a group of friends are looking to do something fun together, look no further. Line dancing is a great activity for groups as they learn to move in sync with one another. Then, once the learning is done, dancing in sync with other groups at a line dancing venue can be a great time.

Training tip: If you’re nervous when starting, stay in the middle. Though it can be tempting to “stand in the back” it’s important to remember that there are many line dancing turns, which can mean the back can become the front at any time.

Hip Hop Dancing

What is it? It may seem younger, but hip hop dancing originated in the seventies, like salsa dancing. Though hip hop may be characterized by locking, popping, and breaking, it’s probably most known for its improvisational form.

Why do it? Hip hop is a wonderful dance and exercise routine, with several gyms across the nation now offering classes where you can learn how to dance and stay in shape. Both the music and dance are very popular these days, so it may be fun for you to learn about it, and then see its influence on pop culture, film, and theater.

Training tip: Dress comfortably! There is a lot of movement in hip hop and it can feel like quite the cardio exercise, so dress accordingly.

Dancing is a wonderful way to have fun, burns some calories, and meet new people. No matter which style of dance you decide to try, have fun as you cut up the dance floor.