International Ballroom and Latin Dances
Our classes cover all five dances of International Ballroom dancing. Beginners start by learning the Waltz and the Quickstep. As your experience and skills increase you will be introduced to the other three dances. If you’re interested in dancing competitively, please see our Team page.
This is the first dance that Beginners will learn in Ballroom dancing. The Waltz originated from Vienna and Austria in the 17th century. Throughout the 18th century a dance called the ‘waltzer’ developed. This dance was introduced at the beginning of the 19th century where it was met with some indignation as it was danced with the man’s hand around the lady’s waist. Fortunately the opposition to the dance dispersed allowing it to develop into what we now know as the Modern Waltz in its characteristic three-beat time. This is also known as “Slow Waltz” or “English Waltz”.
This dance is normally the second Ballroom dance learned by beginners. The Quickstep was originally a fast version of a Foxtrot, developed because many bands in the 1920s played Foxtrot music too fast. The Quickstep has a powerful, swinging rhythm and takes inspiration from the Charleston. The songs and dress style of Quickstep are reminiscent of American high society from the Roaring 20s.
The Foxtrot originated in 1913 from the Vaudeville act of actor Harry Fox. This slow dance has smooth steps that glide around the dancefloor.
Ballroom Tango originated from the traditional Argentine Tango but is very distinct in its style and technique. It has an air of intensity, sharpness and contrast of movement. The International Ballroom style of Tango was developed and codified in England in the 1920s. Ballroom Tango is characterised by the staccato movements of the feet and fast switching of positions of the head.
The Viennese Waltz developed during the 19th Century in Austria. The composers Franz Lanner and the Strauss family are well noted for their beautiful Viennese Waltz orchestral pieces. This version of the waltz is much faster than the English Waltz, but there are consequently fewer steps to learn. Couples glide and rotate around the dancefloor to the characteristic three beat rhythm.
Our classes cover all five dances of International Latin American style. Beginners start with the well-known Cha-Cha and Jive. If you’re interested in dancing competitively, please see our Team page.
This is the first Latin dance learned by Beginners at IC. It is inspired by the traditional Cuban Cha cha cha, brought to New York by Puerto-Ricans. By the early fifties it had developed from mambo into a dance in its own right and was given the name Cha cha cha, in reference to the sound of the dancers’ feet shuffling through syncopations in the music. It is a lively and flirtatious dance, designed to put a smile on everyone’s face!
Jive is the second Latin dance learned by beginners. The most noticeable aspects of the Jive are its energy, speed, and bounce: it is one of the fastest dances and showcases lots of kicks, flicks, and spins. This rhythmical and swinging dance is influenced by the Boogie, Rock ‘n’ Roll, Swing, and Lindy Hop. This dance is usually performed last in competitions due to the energy required to perform it.
Mainly inspired by the traditional Brazilian Samba, Ballroom Samba was formalized in 1956 by Pierre Lavelle and is what we dance in competitions today. It contains elements of many different Latin American dances incorporated into one. It makes use of complex cross-rhythms with lots of hip action. There should be a good balance of moving steps and stationary steps and lots of outstretched arms. The accomplished dancer is made to look effortless and carefree with knee action, body sway, and “pendulum motion.”
The Rumba was inspired by the Son and Danzón styles of Cuba and first appeared in the United States in 1920. It relies on the age-old premise of the lady trying to conquer the man by means of her womanly charms. Incorporating all the elements of teasing and withdrawal, it is considered the most sensual of the Latin dances. It is a slow-paced dance with a big emphasis on emotion and the connection between partners.
The Paso Doble originated from Spain, and is modeled after the drama and movement of a Spanish bullfight. The man takes the role of the matador, displaying machismo and strength. The woman’s role in the dance is often that of a gypsy flamenco dancer, or following the matador’s movements like his cape. The Paso Doble stance aims to make the dancer look intimidating and of great stature. It is almost always choreographed to the famous Gypsy music “España cañí”. This song 3 highlights, or breaks, during which dramatic poses and impressive moves are executed.
Ballroom and Latin Social Classes
“I really want to dance, but I don’t want to do competitions” you might think. The Ballroom and Latin Social classes are exactly what you are looking for, it does not matter if you cannot commit to every single lesson or what your level is. These classes are for you to socialise with others, to enjoy the dance and the music, and to develop as a dancer. We offer Ballroom and Latin lessons at the beginners level, and you are also able to take private lessons from the same teacher.
There is also the option to undertake Medal exams. Medal exams are a grading system in Ballroom and Latin dancing starting with Bronze level and progressing to Silver and Gold. They are a good way to mark your progress in Ballroom and Latin dancing, and can help to give you direction as you learn. You do not have to commit to doing the exams if you wish to do the classes, you can just come along to learn steps and have a good time!
For those who are completely new to dancing – do not worry about what to wear, just turn up to the lessons. But if you would like to dance more in the future, a pair of Ballroom or Latin dance shoes is a great investment!
If one day you decide that you want to see what competitions are like and try out for the Team, simply talk to our team captains.
Salsa is one of the most well known social dances around the world, with many clubs and thousands of dancers in most cities across the world dancing many varieties of Salsa.
Classes are run on Mondays:
Whether you are a complete beginner or an advanced salsero/salsera, you’re sure to find a class that is right for you. Our teacher Laith Sami is a European Salsa Champion and has decades of teaching experience. He manages to make every class entertaining as well as informative with his sense of humour!
We organise a considerable number of socials, both on campus and at various Salsa clubs around London, which give our members opportunities to show off their skills on the dancefloor. There is also a competitive Salsa Team and Salsa Performance Groups if you want to take your Salsa to the next level! More information below.
The style we teach and practise at IC is On-1 Crossbody Salsa (LA style), with occasional workshops in On-2 (New York style) and other styles.
You do not need a partner to attend the classes. The class are held in the Junior Common Room (Sherfield Building) and the schedule can be found on the Club’s online timetable. Request to join our mailing list and our Facebook group (IC Dance Salsa and Bachata) for more information about the Salsa classes, and to join our community of social dancers!
Here are some examples of what social Salsa dancing can look like:
- Ataca & Maria Ramos dancing Salsa to Frankie Ruiz Deseandote.
- Top Salsa Dancers Social Dancing @ Las Vegas Salsa Congress 2015
If you are at all familiar with Salsa or the social Latin dancing scene, you may have come across Bachata too! Originating from the Dominican Republic, Bachata has become popular around the world and is danced in most places where Salsa is found. The traditional form makes use of strong connection, fast footwork and lots of musicality, while the modern form known as Sensual Bachata, uses body isolations, head rolls and body rolls and a more intimate connection.
Both styles are taught by our teacher at IC, Alex Rasero, an accomplished dancer, teacher, DJ and organiser for many popular dance nights around London.
There are three levels of classes on Fridays:
Classes are held in the Junion Common Room (JCR)
The third level is open to everyone but the focus will be more on styling, tricks and cool moves to get dancers confident for competing or performance, and is recommended for those on the Salsa Team who want to compete in Bachata as well.
Here are some examples of Sensual Bachata:
- Ataca y Alemana Romeo Santos Eres Mia Bachata
- DANIEL Y DESIREE LOS ANGELES – Don’t Let Me Down ft. Daya (Version Bachata Dj Khalid)
Salsa & Bachata Team
More universities around the country have started hosting Salsa and Bachata competitions, often accompanied by workshops, professional performances and awesome parties! In order to make the most of these events, we organise weekly training for those who want to be more serious about getting good at freestyle Salsa! There is a Beginners training session for people who haven’t danced before but want to improve quickly and compete in beginners category competitions, and a Main Team training session for those who already have some level in Salsa and want to further hone their skills for competitions. For those wanting to improve their Bachata and get ready for competitions, the third level of Bachata classes on Fridays is recommended.
There are no requirements for joining the Salsa Team: all are welcome to join the beginners Salsa Team and any Salsa dancers with a year or more of experience are encouraged to come for the Salsa Main Team practices.
This is an example of a (professional level) Salsa freestyle competition round.
Salsa Performance Groups
On top of the freestyle social and competitive classes, every year we run choreographed performance groups! In 2017 we organised our first Advanced Salsa Performance group, choreographed by Laith Sami, and they took home the first prize trophy from a competition in Birmingham against nearly a dozen teams from universities around the country. Auditions are run during first term for this group. Anyone, however is welcome to join our Beginners Salsa Performance Group! Each year, those beginners who commit to joining this group find their level of dancing and their confidence skyrocket. Apart from the competition in Birmingham, there are ample opportunities for performance for both groups in shows at Imperial such as the Dance Imperial Show and East Meets West, as well as in dance clubs around London!
Argentine Tango is one of the oldest social dances around, developing from various dance and music styles brought to Uruguay and Argentina from Africa and Europe, and was one of the first dances to really emphasise creativity in improvisation as well as close connection in an embrace. Tango is taught at IC by student and committee member Ozan Toker and Despina Violari, who together participated in the UK Tango Championships 2017, and are in training under Leandro Palou and Maria Tsiatsiani. They will be running a beginners level course throughout the year on Tuesdays, so more experienced Tango dancers are encouraged to check out Leandro and Maria’s Tango school at tangoacademy.co.uk.