The Dances 

Starlight Ballroom offers a full-range of dances both for social and competitive dancing.

Click on a a dance below to read about each one.

The Foxtrot has been America's most popular dance since 1913. Introduced by a Vaudevillian named Harry Fox, it quickly became the standard of social dancing. Foxtrot is a great dance for beginners, as it teaches the novice variety, maneuverability, and how to combine steps easily. The music for Foxtrot is any slow to moderately slow Big Band or pop music song, or "slow dance". Most pop music is written in four/four timing, which is Foxtrot's rhythm (four beats to a measure of music). The mantra for Foxtrot is the classic dance teacher's phrase: "Slow, Slow, Quick, Quick". Much of our popular music is Foxtrot music, and it's a nice, slow, easy dance during which a couple can even have a pleasant conversation. This is the classic dance for wedding receptions and social events, and wedding couples usually choose either a Foxtrot or a Waltz to be their first dance together, predicting a lifetime of slow, easy, romantic cuddling (we hope)!


The Foxtrot has been America's most popular dance since 1913. Introduced by a Vaudevillian named Harry Fox, it quickly became the standard of social dancing. Foxtrot is a great dance for beginners, as it teaches the novice variety, maneuverability, and how to combine steps easily. The music for Foxtrot is any slow to moderately slow Big Band or pop music song, or "slow dance". Most pop music is written in four/four timing, which is Foxtrot's rhythm (four beats to a measure of music). The mantra for Foxtrot is the classic dance teacher's phrase: "Slow, Slow, Quick, Quick". Much of our popular music is Foxtrot music, and it's a nice, slow, easy dance during which a couple can even have a pleasant conversation. This is the classic dance for wedding receptions and social events, and wedding couples usually choose either a Foxtrot or a Waltz to be their first dance together, predicting a lifetime of slow, easy, romantic cuddling (we hope)!


Originally, the Rumba was a lively, peppy dance similar to Mambo in its feel. Over the years it has changed, and is now the name of a slow and romantic Latin dance. Inspired by African rhythms and Latin melodies, the Americanized version of the Cuban Rumba is the basis for the Mambo and Cha Cha. The Rumba is a pre-requisite for good Latin dancing, and helps sharpen your sense of rhythm, timing and muscle control. Originally an offshoot of the Mambo, the Cha Cha was the rage in the 50's and is probably the most popular social Latin dance in America. It has an infectious rhythm that has been used by many musicians, even those who are not traditionally thought of as Latin -- even some Beatles songs, and a lot of disco music! The rhythmical "split beat" of the Cha Cha and the many open movements add surety and poise to your dancing style.


This is one of the most popular social dances in Florida nowadays, as there are plenty of Latin clubs, and plenty of great Latin dancers! The cutting edge of development for Salsa music is in NYC and Florida, both areas with large Latin communities. Salsa works on the basis of Mambo - a pattern of six steps danced over eight counts of music. We call it Salsa if the pattern of steps begins on the "one" beat of the music, and Mambo if it starts on the "two" beat. Salsa is a more contemporary name for the same step pattern, and came about when dancers started mixing up Mambo with Hustle steps. Mambo is the dance that came to popular attention in the '40s, as Americans became fascinated with the exciting rhythms emanating from Latin countries, like Cuba. For the mood of Mambo, just think Havana in its heyday, and the famous Palladium dancers of NYC in the '40s, '50s and '60s.


Samba is a Latin dance with origins in Brazil. In Brazil, there are many different types of Samba, including more elegant Salon dancing, and the wild, uninhibited popular dancing associated with Carnival. Carmen Miranda is generally credited with bringing Brazilian rhythms to the United States and Europe, and since then the Samba has undergone a metamorphosis, as the steps became stylized and standardized. Samba has very distinctive and varied rhythms occurring simultaneously within every song, which helps to build richness in the music and excitement in the listening. It is often called the "South American Waltz", as it features a "rise and fall" type of motion which is associated with waltz.


The Swing swept across the US in the early '30s, and was very popular through the '40s. (Remember "Swing Kids", the recent movie about World War II times?) Characterized by a carefree, relaxed style, the Swing soon came to represent a whole generation and time, when Big Band music was popular and musicians were judged by how well their music could "swing". Single step, double step and triple step versions make Swing a dance easily adaptable to a variety of tempos of music, from moderately slow to very fast. Swing is a highly adaptable dance, going equally well with Big Band type music, rock-and-roll music, and many Motown songs. Swing music is generally up-tempo and bouncy. (The same music style, at a slower tempo, is danced as a Foxtrot.) The Savoy style of swing is a very fast, jumpy, casual-looking style of dancing, associated with the great dancers of Harlem in the '40s. The Lindy style is a smoother-looking dance. When it hit the laid-back West Coast, the steps and rhythms of Swing were rearranged again to make it adapt to rhythm-and-blues type music, and West Coast Swing developed. West Coast Swing has certain similarities to Swing, but also has some distinct differences. We recommend that dancers reach a basic familiarity with the step patterns of "East Coast" Swing before learning the slightly more complicated step patterns of West Coast Swing. In Europe, especially France, Swing has been popularized under the name "Rock'n'Roll", which is a fast, jumpy style of dancing. They have also developed a competitive acrobatic style of Rock'n'Roll which combines gymnastics with dancing. The International Style version of the dance is called "Jive", and it is danced competitively in the US and all over the world (see the explanation for International Style).


Tango was the romantic rage of the 1920's in the US, introduced to millions by silent screen idol Rudolph Valentino in "Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse". Born in the West Indies and stylized by the gauchos of Argentina, simmered in the brothels of Buenos Aires and brought to a boil in the elegant salons of Paris, the Tango is considered a "dancer's dance". Its unique rhythms offer fabulous training for timing and footwork, building a foundation useful in any dance. It has recently become an amazingly popular dance here in America, due first to Al Pacino and his sensitive rendition of a blind dancer in "Scent of a Woman" a few years ago, and then to the many Broadway shows that have featured tango in recent years (Tango Argentino, Tango x 2, Forever Tango, etc.). Madonna's "Evita" features tango dancing, and Julio Iglesias is promoting his tango album. Social Tango is not as intensely intimate as Argentine Tango, as the dancers maintain a regular social dance hold. In Argentine Tango, the dancers are often cheek to cheek, and this effect, coupled with intricate leg intertwining, gives Argentine Tango a much more sensual feel than American (Social) Tango. Tango is also a Competitive Style dance, both American and International. Although it originated in Latin countries, American or International style Tango is not considered a "Latin" dance as it does not feature Cuban Motion. It is considered a "Smooth" or Ballroom dance, as dancers hold themselves erect and swing their legs from the hip, as with the Foxtrot or the Waltz.


Waltz is another very popular dance. It might be the most popular dance of all time, since it is considered the forerunner of popular social dancing. Developed in Southern Germany in the 17th Century, Waltz's popularity as a social dance blossomed with the music of Johann Strauss (think of the Blue Danube, and other famous waltzes). Before the advent of the Waltz, proper society people did not hold each other in an embrace while dancing - only the lower classes did such an improper thing! However, people gradually found that holding a partner around the waist did not immediately lead to a life of sin, and the Waltz became a staple dance for Kings and Queens as well as common folk. The Waltz is still a very common dance all around the world. Waltz music has a distinctive one-two-three tempo (three beats to a measure of music) and is very commonly played at weddings and other social events. Viennese Waltz has step patterns adapted to a faster tempo of music. The Waltz helps dancers to develop balance and control. With practice, correct posture, and rise and fall motion, the flowing movement of the dance can be developed and enjoyed.