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How to Tear It Up

Whether you have two left feet or just appeared on Dancing With the Stars: the best Lindy Hop and samba New York has to offer


For Swing

You Should Be Dancing...!
412 Eighth Ave., nr. 31st St., fourth fl.; 212-244-0011; youshouldbedancing.nyc

Here you’ll find the largest assortment of swing classes in the city, with group classes for beginners twice a week, incorporating styles like the Lindy Hop (also known as the Jitterbug, with roots in 1920s Harlem) and Balboa (a ballroom hybrid first danced on Balboa Island off the coast of Southern California). Students love the community feel here and come together to show off new moves at the weekly Frim Fram Jam on Thursdays ($95 per private lesson; $80 for four group classes).

Tip: “When you go to your first lesson, bring a couple of song options. And listen closely to the lyrics. Is this a love song? Or is it about cheating?” –Tammy Halaburda, Co-owner and Studio Manager

For Ballroom

Ballroom Wedding Dance
37 W. 26th St., nr. Sixth Ave., ninth fl.; 917-375-3027; ballroomweddingdance.com

This boutique dance studio specializes in standard ballroom styles like the foxtrot, quickstep, and waltz—all meant for pairs. Private sessions begin with the nitty-gritties like steps, rhythm, and patterns, set to the couple’s tune of choice. Director Peter Jones says pop hits by Elton John and the Beatles are great for a four-count rumba; for a foxtrot, almost anything Frank Sinatra will do; a waltz goes hand in hand with slow jams in three-quarter time, like Norah Jones’s “Come Away With Me” ($89 per private lesson).

Tip: “Remember to keep your knees bent. That will relax the whole body, enabling a smooth glide across the floor and that sensual flow.” –Peter Jones, Studio Director

For Pop

Beyoncé Dance Classes at Broadway Bodies
151 W. 26th St., nr. Seventh Ave., sixth fl.; 347-926-3952; broadwaybodies.com

Sign up for group, couples, and private sessions with the ever-peppy Mitchell Wayne, who’s choreographed routines for the city’s Gay Pride and Halloween parades. For the couple looking for their first dance to make a big Instagram splash, Wayne—who combines moves from Beyoncé’s videos with his own Bey-inspired choreography—recommends “Love on Top” ($500 per private lesson; $20 per group class).

Tip: “It’s easy to forget to warm up your ankles before dancing. The bride should take a moment to slip out of her heels, roll each ankle in a circle a few times, and flex and point her toes. The limo is a good spot for this.” –Stephen Brotebeck, Artistic Director

For Cha-Cha

Paul Pellicoro’s DanceSport
22 W. 34th St., nr. Fifth Ave., fourth fl.; 212-307-1111: dancesport.com

Pellicoro’s is the largest dance studio on the East Coast, and Dancing With the Stars uses it for its private lessons. His wedding program pairs couples with trained dancers to arrange the first dance. Taught step-by-step, the goal is to cue lovebirds into those flouncing, sensual moves (the beat: one, two, cha-cha-cha) just like the dancers do on DWTS. The package includes music editing, to match the length of your routine to your song, and video of your lessons ($649 for five private lessons, plus one group class).

Tip: “With this kind of partner dance, the most important thing is to feel relaxed. So before you hit the floor, drink a glass of wine.” –Paul Angelone, Director of Instructors

For Samba

Sambazina
520 Eighth Ave., nr. 36th St., 16th fl.; 201-452-5059; sambazina.com

Those Brazilian carnival dancers with the fancy footwork? They’re dancing the samba. But don’t worry: You can learn a less intimidating version here. Lessons are with Marizete Browne, who begins each class with a warm-up balanço: balancing while opening and closing your feet, side to side, on beat. After you’ve mastered the basics, she’ll pair you off. ($90 per private lesson; $75 per group class).

Tip:“I ask the bride what kind of dress she will be wearing and adapt the dance accordingly. If it’s tight all the way down, she should stick to steps like the Puladinho (‘little jump’), or the Esse (it means ‘S,’ and is a serpentine walk).” –Marizete Browne, Studio Founder

Arianna Davis

Part 2: Master the Dip

Ballroom Wedding Dance studio director Peter Jones insists that “a wedding dance without a dip is like a birthday cake with no icing.” Here, his tips for pulling it off.


Illustration by Jason Lee  

“When it comes time for the dip,” Jones says, “the leader should let his or her partner know: ‘Here comes the dip!’ ” That way, there’s no possibility for confusion.

Next, “the leader takes one step to the left, (1) while the follower takes one step to the right and pivots 90 degrees clockwise.”

Meanwhile, the leader’s hand, now free from the partner’s grip, “stretches around behind the partner’s back to his or her opposite hip.” (2)

Now, “with the leader standing rock solid, the follower is going to lean straight back, as much as is comfortable.” (3) And here’s where the drama comes in: “The person being dipped makes a backstroke motion with his or her left arm.”

Finally, “the dippee glances down the extended arm, stretching the neck elegantly until there’s a little tension in the throat. (4) It’s all in the tilt of the neck.” That, and “showing off your ring finger.”
Emma Whitford

Part 3: The New Electric Slides

It’s time to update your repertoire.

Instead of the Electric Slide, try ...

The Wobble, recently made popular by V.I.C.’s hit of the same name. It’s like a punched-up, less choreographed slide with a bonus “wobble” move: Stand in place while swinging your arms down low and your booty to the beat.

Instead of the Two-Step, try ...

Bobby Shmurda’s Shmoney Dance, a two-step with more swag. Just add a little bop on the beat, with your arms moving side to side like your tipsy great uncle, and you’ve got the gist. Rest assured, the jig even has Beyoncé and Jay Z’s stamp of approval: The duo hit the moves at their “On the Run” tour at MetLife Stadium in July.

Instead of the Dougie, try ...

The Nae Nae, which is a more relaxed rocking back and forth with your right hand in the air, left hand down, knees bent. Sound familiar? You might’ve seen it last spring when Mercer basketball player Kevin Canevari “dropped the Nae Nae” after his team beat Duke in the NCAA tournament.

Instead of Soulja Boy, try ...

The arm bop from Rae Sremmurd’s video for “No Flex Zone.” The move is exactly what it sounds like: You’re flexing your biceps any way you can think of, on the beat. Study the choreography Solange and her son Julez put together for her wedding this past November, which is a triple whammy of “No Flex Zone” moves plus Soulja Boy and the Nae Nae.

Instead of “Step in the Name," try ...

The Fine Line China dance, created by fans of Chris Brown’s “Fine China” video. It’s a more energetic version of R.Kelly’s original, interjected with tiny kicks to the side and cha-cha-style legwork.

Instead of The Cupid Shuffle try ...

The DLow Shuffle. Another catchy line dance, this one might not be as grandma-friendly: It’s the Cupid Shuffle with your elbows flying around, incorporating a Carlton Banks–esque, arm-happy dance, and a really satisfying “stomp—like you mad.”
Arianna Davis

Part 4: Learn the Cha-Cha in Your P.J.’s

YouTube is full of salsa instructionals and Sia how-tos.


Rock Your Hips
Addicted2Salsa, one of the most-viewed salsa-lesson channels on YouTube, breaks down basic steps for even the most rhythmically challenged apprentice. The instructors repeat each step enough times for you to get it down before moving to the next.

Master the Hits
Easy2dance translates the choreography to popular songs, from Jessie J’s “Bang Bang” to Sia’s “Chandelier,” into easy-to-master bits. The laid-back instructor—she wears a T-shirt and shorts while dancing in her living room—counts slowly, demonstrating every jump, pivot, and body roll.

Learn the Classics
Passion4dancing’s instructional videos are literally step-by-step, explaining moves like the cha-cha and the waltz. The rumba is accompanied by a catchy phrase to time your move to: “slow, quick-quick.” Try to focus less on the instructor’s stiff face and posture and more on the moves.

Cut a Rug, Latin Style
A style that originated in the Dominican Republic, Bachata has become a mainstay on the New York party scene. Joe Baker’s “Learn to Dance Bachata” offers a straightforward breakdown rolling out the seven easiest steps, from the elementary eight-count side-to-side to turns and pivots. While the video is a little outdated and grainy, it’s gotten more than 4 million views for a reason.

Slow Dance Suavely
Nightlife Media Group has your inner seventh-grader covered: One video in the series focuses on how to slow dance—down to the correct hand-positioning, so you can avoid looking like a creep. And this isn’t just a modest middle-school sway: Things get steamy when the instructional adds a little step, touch, and turn action.
Arianna Davis

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