You’re at a wedding, enjoying the celebratory vibe, the five-course meal and the decadent cake, but then the DJ calls everyone onto the dance floor and your heart sinks. We teach you how to fake some suave moves – even if you have two left feet.
Keep it simple
If you’re in search of the all-purpose step to guide you through waltzes, rumbas and even many modern songs, look no further than the box step, says Cristina Amalia Dina, director of Dance Art Studio in Richmond Hill, Ont.
The person who is leading steps forward with his left foot, steps to the side with his right foot, and then closes his left foot to his right foot on the third step. To complete the “box,” he then steps back with his right foot, steps to the side with the left foot, and then closes the right foot to the left foot.
His partner mirrors his moves, starting with a step back with the right foot.
Don’t hog the dance floor
As the night wears on and Michael Jackson tunes get shuffled into the playlist, the style of dancing will loosen up a bit. But the big dancing? The kind where you hog one-quarter of the dance floor? Don’t pull that out, Ms. Dina says.
“Normally, the space is crowded there. Don’t do large moves with the hands where you can slap somebody in the head. When [you] dance, look who is around and don’t execute large steps.”
Practice – at least a little
If you can’t afford classes, there’s a decent online alternative, Ms. Dina says: YouTube. Just remember to study the videos dozens of times if you want to replicate those seemingly effortless moves – as you would at a real lesson.
“I know people leave this to the last minute, then they panic,” she says. “They don’t realize that when you look at somebody dancing on YouTube or somewhere, it seems easy but it’s not so easy. It takes hours of practice.”
Melvine Baird, an instructor with the Toronto academy Wedding Dance, suggests hitting up a Latin club with friends for a night of salsa or merengue to prep yourself before a wedding reception.
“You pay your cover and they have a free lesson. It’s a way to get out and get some experience with leading and following,” she says.
Don’t try to shift roles mid-dance
If your skill level is higher or lower than your partner’s, don’t make a fuss about it, Ms. Dina says.
“All the women – they try to lead. They want to do more than the man can do, they want to show off.”
But that will only frustrate your partner and lead to stepped-on toes, arguments and an awkward display.
“Even if the couple is doing a basic simple step but co-ordinate with each other nicely and they do it in tandem, it looks very good,” Ms. Dina says.
Even if you aren’t comfortable with fancy footwork, you don’t want to be the guy from the Grade 7 dance who hugs the walls, Ms. Baird says.
“If you’re too worried about it, if you’re too concerned about not doing it right, you’re going to be stiff and rigid.”
Don’t be so vain to think that people are scrutinizing your every move, she adds.
“Everybody’s looking at the bride – not you.”
And don’t do this...rely too heavily on the liquid courage. You don’t want to be remembered for your belligerent, drunken dancing on the wedding video.
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