Top 5 dances to learn for social dancing in 2024

Dance styles for beginners
Social dancing Sydney

The time has come to put thought into action and start learning to dance, but you’ve got that burning question: what dance styles should I learn?

So we’ve all heard of salsa, so it’s usually top of the list, but the truth is, unless you’re going out to the salsa clubs, you’re not going to use it as much as you might think. You’ll probably see that based on the music we have selected for each dance style below. You’ll notice that your salsa songs are the ones you’re less likely to hear on your favourite radio station. We have rounded out the list with salsa though, based on its popularity.

We’d recommend having a good mix of dances up your sleeve, so you don’t have to sit out when your favourite song comes on! And don’t worry, learning a few extra styles isn’t much harder than learning one style.

1. Rumba

Sometimes referred to as the dance of love, the rumba is a very versatile dance that can even be danced to songs that strictly speaking don’t suit a rumba. The rumba is a sensual spot dance which is dominated by grounded fast movements and stylised, elongated slow movements.

The foundation figure for your rumba is the box step and once developed can look quite saucy on its own. Every lady loves a turn, so you can simply indicate a turn by lifting your hand and the lady simply walks around in a circle.

If you’re looking to add some excitement to your dance and wow those watching, you can always pull out the crossovers.

These three figures will give you enough variety to have a bit of fun with your rumba at your next backyard bbq party or special event.

Some great songs to dance the rumba to are:

2. East Coast swing

Listening to some tunes, hands in the air and swaying side to side. There’s a pretty good chance you’re listening to some swing music. The most popular variation of the larger swing family, the East Coast swing was derived from the fox trot and lindy hop dances.

You can have plenty of fun with the East Coast swing, and it suits are large variety of music. With back rocks and triple steps, there’s not a lot to think about in terms of what you’re doing with your feet.

You’ve got your foundation figure, the swing basic which is made up of a back rock and two sets of triple steps. Add some clockwise rotation to your basic figure, and the dance will take on a whole new feeling. Then you’ve got the double turn and a single turn figures, so there’s plenty of fun to be had with the swing.

Some great songs to dance the swing to are:

3. Cha cha

The cha cha is the youngest of the rhythm dances and it certainly packs a punch. It consists of rock steps and fast chassés, and sharp movements, ensuring you’ll have lots of fun on the dance floor.

You start off with a side basic step, when split in half is used to start and finish other figures. For the exciting part for the lady, you add in a pivot turn. Unlike the rumba, our under arm turn in the cha cha has a lot more energy.

To top it off, you can add the fifth position breaks to give the cha cha a bit more flare! The more confident you become with your cha cha the better it’s going to look, especially when you start to make your chassés look distinct from the remainder of the figure.

Some great songs to dance the cha cha to are:

4. Hustle

The hustle took off in the 1970s disco era. It evolved into a partner dance with the lead using push and pull to bring the follower in and out, producing a circular spinning movement. It was definitely popularised by John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever.

You’ll start off with the wheel without syncopation, which is your basic step, followed by the ladies under arm turn. Soon you’ll add syncopation to liven up the dance.

To make it a bit more fancy, you’ll then add the under arm turn combination, which sees both the leader and follower turning. If you’ve got your East Coast swing down pat, you can start to add some of those figures to your hustle as well.

Some great songs to dance the hustle to are:

5. Salsa

The salsa is a fun and fast Latin dance, with fancy steps that are easy to learn. There are many variations of salsa, including the Cuban and New York styles. The salsa can be danced vertical, horizontal, or circular, or a mixture of the 3 directions.

You’ll start off with the salsa basic using a small side step on counts 3 and 7. Then add the lady’s under arm turn right. Keeping steps small and tight will allow for sharp expression and display the excitement of the salsa.

To make it a bit more fancy and get ready for more advanced figures, you’ll add the cross body lead to your routine. On its own, the cross body lead is a great way to quickly change the direction of your dance.

Some great songs to dance the salsa to are:

There are many ways you can start to learn to dance, but we’d recommend taking structured dance lessons with a reputable studio to get the best outcomes. At William Maslin Dance Studios, we have both in studio dance lessons as well as online dance lessons which you can take in the comfort of your own home.

But most important of all, don’t put off learning to dance. The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll experience the magic of partnership dancing.