Kizomba, salsa, tango, swing. Whatever your taste, there’s a city out there that’s sure to quench your thirst to boogie. By the way: you’ll never guess which US city is best for attending your first hip-hop class.
1. Kizomba: Lisbon, Portugal
Kizomba is a sensual partner dance that has been skyrocketing in popularity over the last decade. The first-ever US kizomba workshop was taught at the China Harbor Restaurant in Seattle, WA in 2006. The real hotspot for Kizomba, though, is in Lisbon, Portugal. Participation in kizomba events is high among the city’s adult residents.
Kizomba has become a staple of Portuguese culture. It’s a style of dance that fuses traditional Angolan semba with Zouk, a romantic partner dance from the islands of the French Antilles. The Portuguese were first exposed to both Zouk and semba during their colonial days, and the rest is history.
Contemporary kizomba music is characterized by a slow, persistent electronic percussion, although much of the time more traditional semba music is played at kizomba socials. The dance itself involves slow, smooth hip rotations and close, simple footwork that allow new dancers to pick it up quickly. Have some fun igniting a romance with this seductive, easy-to-learn partner dance.
2. Tango: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Buenos Aires, Argentina is indisputably the world capital of tango. Tango first emerged as a style of dance in the 1880’s at gatherings along the River Plate, which serves as a border between Argentina and Uruguay. You wouldn’t be the first expat to dabble in Argentine tango. Tim Ferriss, a notorious vagabond, and author of The 4-Hour Work Week, spent six months in Buenos Aires mastering tango in his mid-twenties.
Beginner dancers of all ages will find tango to be an accessible dance style. Both the choreography and the music is heavily reminiscent of ballroom dancing. Tango is characterized by sharp, defined movements. The tango can be danced close together with chests touching, or in an open-form with a shoulder’s width between partners. Fans of ballroom will love trying this intimate partner dance.
3. Salsa: Havana, Cuba
For those of you looking to turn up the heat, a visit to steamy Havana, Cuba may well be in your future. Cuban salsa is an extra spicy version of this well-known dance that focuses on the romantic interplay between the sexes. Salsa is upbeat and infectiously fun for beginner dancers, making it the most popular style of partner dance for newbies.
Casino is a type of group salsa that originated in Cuba. In this style of salsa, couples fluidly switch partners mid-dance. Beginners will want to focus their skills on mastering the basics before diving feet-first into casino. The fiery energy of salsa should be more than enough to ignite the passion for dance that lives inside you.
4. Hip-Hop: Houston, USA
Few cities capture the raw energy of hip-hop like Houston, Texas. Houston is one of the most culturally diverse cities in America, an environment in which hip-hop thrives. The city is home to several of the nation’s top hip-hop dance studios, including Soreal Dance Studio on Memorial Drive. Soreal is frequented by some of the world’s top dance instructors, including Kyle Hanagami and Brian Friedman.
This doesn’t mean that beginners need feel intimidated. You don’t have to be a pro to get your hip-hop on in the city of Houston. In addition to Soreal Dance Studio, several others offer a long list of adult, beginner hip hop classes, including Houston Dance Factory and Soundbox Studios. Hip-hop dancing allows beginner dancers to experiment with their body mechanics in a low-pressure environment. It’s also a great way to shake your body loose following a long plane ride or drive in the car. It’s never too late to try your first hip-hop dance class and discover your inner Beyonce.
5. Swing Dance: London, England
Swing dancing was born out of the hard-partying, hot-and-heavy heyday of the 1920’s and 1930’s era. When cutting-edge jazz music began to come out of New York’s Harlem district, the irreverent youth of the day inevitably figured out a way to have fun dancing to it. Today, swing classes and socials are held regularly in major cities across the world. England, however, is a particular hotbed for this high-energy dance. The Swing Dance Company, based out of London, is known for throwing some hopping get-togethers. Swing by and try your hand at Lindy hop. Lindy hop is the original style of swing dance that emerged from 1920’s Harlem as a fusion of the Charleston and foxtrot, two popular dances of the era.
Whether you’re passing through the United Kingdom, catching some rays in South America, or keeping it fresh in multicultural Houston, your desire to dance will find a way to thrive. Be sure to put your best foot forward and break-a-leg at any one of these dance-centric cities.