National Urban Ballroom Dancing Day is celebrated on the second Saturday of March and takes place on March 11 this year. Ballroom dancing, or partner dancing, is a formal dancing style between two people. The moves are so elegant and fluid you can’t mistake them for anything else; almost everyone can recognize ballroom dancing on sight. The waltz, the foxtrot, and the cha-cha are just some of the classics. Ballroom dancing is practiced competitively and socially by people of all ages and from all backgrounds. Its variety of unique styles gives it a universal appeal.
History of National Urban Ballroom Dancing Day
Ballroom dancing dates back to 16th-century Europe. Michel de Montaigne, a French philosopher, wrote about a dance he witnessed in Augsburg, Germany, in 1580. Ballroom dancing was a preserve of the wealthy. It slowly gained popularity with the poorer classes, moving from the countryside to the towns and cities. By 1750, peasants in Bavaria, Styria, and Tyrol had come up with the ‘Walzer,’ or the waltz as it’s called today. The wealthier classes danced to Mozart, Handel, and other classical musicians in a formal style called the Minuet. However, they quickly got bored of this routine. They joined the peasants in their less stately but more enjoyable waltz. Composers like Johann Strauss and Franz Lanner helped increase its popularity. To the surprise of many aristocrats, the upper classes of Europe embraced the waltz.
But it wasn’t only Europe experiencing a revolution in ballroom dancing. Enslaved Africans fused the French minuet style in the Dominican Republic with their dances, creating Merengue ballroom dancing. By the 1850s, this dance style had spread from the Dominican Republic to nearby South American and Caribbean nations. Other dancing styles blossomed worldwide, influenced by different cultures and social classes.
The Fox Trot made an appearance on Broadway in 1914, courtesy of acting couple Vern and Irene Castle. The 1920s birthed the Jazz-influenced swing style popularized by African Americans. Merengue dancing landed in New York in the 1930s, where it spread like wildfire because of its suitability for small spaces and crowded rooms. In the 1960s, an influx of South American immigrants gave rise to Rumba. Ballroom dancing is still popular today, introducing new styles like urban ballroom dancing, inspired by African American and Latin genres.
National Urban Ballroom Dancing Day timeline
A more light-hearted version of flamenco, called tango, evolves in the brothels and lower districts of Buenos Aires.
British soldiers introduce commoners to ballroom dancing after learning about it from American and European troops during the First World War.
A new, more expressive style of ballroom dancing called Mambo emerges, characterized by complex footwork and eccentric movements.
The cult classic "Dirty Dancing" premieres and breathes new life into ballroom dancing at a time when rock music and hip-hop dominate mainstream popular culture.
National Urban Ballroom Dancing Day FAQs
How many styles of ballroom dancing are there?
There are more than 20 styles of ballroom dancing performed in competitions worldwide.
What's the most difficult ballroom dance?
The Viennese Waltz is considered one of the most challenging ballroom styles to master because it’s much faster than other waltzes and has slightly different steps.
What is the most popular ballroom dance?
The most popular ballroom dance styles are the Cha Cha, Foxtrot, Waltz, Swing, and Rumba.
National Urban Ballroom Dancing Day Activities
Sign up for a dance class
Attend a beginner's dance class to learn the basics of ballroom dancing. Dancing with total strangers might be a little intimidating at first, but you'll soon enjoy it as you get better at it. Just let loose and have fun.
Organize a movie marathon
Hollywood has made its fair share of movies revolving around ballroom dancing. From "Strictly Ballroom" to "Take the Lead" and "Shall We Dance?" There are plenty of options for a binge-watching session. To make it even more of an experience, invite some friends over for the viewing.
Go to a competition
Watching ballroom dancers compete is entertaining and informative. You’ll learn about all the different styles, and get a glimpse of how good you can become with enough practice.
5 Fun Facts About Dancing
Dancing keeps you in great shape
Ballroom dancing is a low-impact aerobic exercise that burns fat, while the quick turns, steps, lifts, and twists boost muscular endurance and strength.
Dancing improves cognitive ability
Ballroom dancing boosts your concentration, focus, and memory, preventing the onset of dementia and enhancing spatial memory in the elderly.
Dancing helps with mental health
Swedish researchers found that teenagers who participated in ballroom dancing had decreased anxiety, depression, and stress levels, with significant improvement in mental health, and patients reported being happier than those who didn't take up dancing.
Dancing makes you more flexible
You'll notice that dancing opens up your range of motion and flexibility, improving your core strength and balance.
Dancing is a confidence booster
Ballroom dancing is an outlet for self-expression; as your technique improves, you become more comfortable embracing who you are through movement, which boosts self-confidence.
Why We Love National Urban Ballroom Dancing Day
Dancing is a stress reliever
Ballroom dancing lets you express your emotions through movement. This expression of your inner state is quite therapeutic. Positively channeling your energy helps lower stress levels and improves your mood.
It doesn't matter how old you are or where you come from — ballroom dancing cuts across the divide. Children as young as five can learn to waltz, and elderly persons can still do the cha-cha. The different styles and musical genres also cater to different tastes and personalities.
It's a fun way to exercise
Most of us avoid exercise because it's boring and repetitive. Ballroom dancing offers an enjoyable and creative way to exercise. You'll burn off as many calories in 30 minutes as you would from running or cycling, except it's a lot more fun!
National Urban Ballroom Dancing Day dates