Frequently Asked Questions about the Ballroom Dance Club at UofG

Q: Do I need a partner?

April: You do not need to come with a partner. For the first part of many sessions we learn and practice the steps individually. There are a number of single people who come out. When a partner is needed the singles usually couple up and practice together. It is, however, easiest if you dance with the same person each week.

Zdenek: On the other hand, please, do not forget the BD is a couple dancing. Therefore, a pre-arranged partner will make your time spent at the BDC session more effective.

Q: What about the atmosphere?

April: This dance club is about having fun while practicing dance. We get all kinds of people out, from 1st year students to profs. It doesn't matter if you have two left feet or not, just as long as you are willing to try. Learning to dance requires a certain amount of discipline and concentration but at the same a lot of laughing and socializing takes place during the breaks.

Q: Your objectives?

April: Zdenek and I plan out the sessions but we take into consideration what the group wants to learn. Everyone practice the same thing but each couple will work at their own level. So, for example, some couples will simply be concentrating on getting the steps while other couples may have mastered the steps and be focusing on refinements of technique. Each couple has their own goal whether it is social dancing or competition, Zdenek and I take this into consideration.

Q: Do I need some special shoes for this?

April: Shoes with soles that are smooth and that can slide are best. We recommend dress shoes for both men and women. Rubber soled shoes (runners/sneakers) are inappropriate because they stick to the floor.

Zdenek: It is absolutely necessary to have clean shoes in the dance studio. No street shoes are permitted (street shoes=shoes you wear outside the building). And some safety precaution - please, leave your army boots at home.

Q: What clothes should I wear?

April: Clothes should be comfortable and cool. You need to be able to move freely. Dancing is a surprisingly good workout. Some women find skirts are comfortable, others wear t-shirts and tights or pants. Men usually wear pants and a shirt. But really wear, what feels good to you.

Q: When and where do we meet?

April: Normally we meet in the Athletic Centre's Dance Studios (mostly DS 300) twice a week later in the evening. However, the Summer and tentatively also the Fall 2004 semester have been cancelled for health reasons. Please, make sure we have your email on file - all scheduling changes are emailed to registered members.

In order to get to the room 300 do the following:

  1. Enter the Athletic Centre
  2. Turn left and go up the stairs towards the Circuit Room
  3. At the top of the stairs turn left away from the Circuit room
  4. Walk down the hall and room 300 will be on your right - please, see the sketch.

Q: Do I need an ID, a driver's license, or a passport-size photo?

Zdenek: You definitely need a valid Athletic Centre membership because we are going to use the AC's facilities. AC membership fees can be found on the AC website. Starting with the Winter 2002 semester all members of the Athletic Centre clubs must also register in the AC club office (the first door on the left in the AC lobby) and sign the liability waiver. 

Q: Can I get a nice little table of things we've learned?

Zdenek: Here are some brief notes (sorry for the lingo :-) )

Standard Modern beats/bartempo [m.p.m.] notes (compact hold)
Waltz Eng. W, Slow W 3-31 start to lower on "3", heel-toe,..
Foxtrot Slow Foxtrot,Slowfox 4-30gliding, contrary body mov., SQQ SQQ htt hht, ioo iii
Quickstep Foxtrot 448-52 accent on "1" and "3", QQ=S!, thrilling, motionless upper body
Viennese Waltz 3 -58take "1" fwd (bwd) NOT to side, very short steps when on inside
Tango 2-33 more compact hold, knees flexed, feet DTC, flat, sharp not gliding,

Latin American Latin beats/bartempo [m.p.m.] notes (the ball of the foot without weight then replace w.)
Samba2 or 448-56 bounce action suggested by the rhytm, stomach muscles-"a"!
Rumba428-31 accent usu.on "1", fwd and bwd steps on "2", hips, don't stop on "4"
Cha-Cha432-34 -//-, rhytm. link 1,2,3,4&1,., beat 1,1,1,,,1,., motionless upper body
Jive440-46 accent usu. on "2" and "4", chasse ,,1 "short'n'long"

Other folk, etc...

Rock'n'Roll, Polka, Csardas, Blues, Square Rumba

Q: OK, good. Now, how can I tell, which dance they are playing?

Zdenek: See the diagram below...
Dance diagram

Q: When did the club begin anyways?

Zdenek: The very first meeting was in September 1992. Then, April and I ran it one or two semesters every year depending whether we were (or were not) in Guelph. I would like to thank to the Athletic Centre staff and, in particular, to Doug Dodd and Joanne Taylor who helped us to initiate the club and then locate the right spot in space&time, etc. And, of course, to the members of the club who created the great atmosphere.

Q: OK, is there any other opportunity to do ballroom dancing?

Zdenek: Yes, for instance:

  1. the Athletic Centre Social and Latin-Swing Dance Courses (please, see the AC calendar for availability)
  2. various dances are organized by individuals or groups in the Guelph, K-W area - please, watch the UofG poster boards. There will be dances in the Peter Clark Hall during the semester - watch the on-campus posters.
  3. various dance competitions in the G-K-W area (you do not have to compete - you can enjoy the atmosphere and dance between the competition rounds).
  4. and variety of clubs, e.g., in Toronto.

Q: What is the difference between the Ballroom Dance Club and the Social and Latin Dance Courses?

April: The Social and Latin Dance Courses teach you the basic and intermediate steps in several Social, Latin (Salsa & Merengue), and Swing dances so that you can use these dances at social occasions. There is more focus on steps and less focus on technique. The instructor does all the teaching in these courses.

Zdenek: The Ballroom Dance Club provides a place where individuals can practice their dance skills and learn the technique and curriculum required by Ballroom Dance competitions. The Ballroom Dance Club focuses strictly on the ten competitive dances: Samba, Rumba, Cha-Cha, Jive, Paso-doble, Waltz, Tango, Viennese Waltz, Slowfox, and Quickstep. Other dances like Polka, Swing, or Czardasz are added when time permits and based on the members interests. The Club promotes peer coaching and group learning, therefore, having previous dance experience, for example from the Dance Courses, is required.


Q: How many people/couples come to the club?

Zdenek: Depends. Some semesters we got ten couples at the beginning, and ended up with only a hand full of people after midterms but, as an example, about thirty couples joined us in the Fall 1997 and recently about 15 in Winter 2001. 

April: I hope this answers your questions. If you have other questions feel free to ask. Come out and try a few classes to see if it is for you. I think it is great fun.

Zdenek: See you there! :-)