I'd like to learn to dance
October 7, 2009 4:49 PM   Subscribe

I'm a single guy living in downtown Portland. I'd like to learn to dance. Swing? Ballroom? What should I learn and where can I learn it?

I'm a bit of a romantic sap, and so, the idea of taking a date out for an evening of dancing seems like something I'd really enjoy. But first, I should learn to dance, right? I have no skills whatsoever. Seriously. NONE. But I'm a can-do sort of guy who wants to learn, so point me in the right direction :)

I have no idea what I should learn. Swing? Ballroom? Something else? I'm looking for a fun and relatively easy starting point for a guy with two left feet.

I don't have a car, so options that are downtown or accessible by mass transit are what I'm hoping for, especially if the mass transit is the streetcar or MAX.

Any and all advice is welcome! Thanks!
posted by 2oh1 to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Portland has a sizable tango community, one which is more accepting of newbies than the communities in some US cities, from what my tango friends have told me. Check out Portland Tango for general information about the community. Eric Lindgren is a really good teacher.
posted by Caduceus at 5:06 PM on October 7, 2009

A friend of mine in Portland frequently posts on her facebook page about taking dance lessons at Duff's... I don't see a lot of details on their web page, but you could call to ask.
posted by scody at 5:06 PM on October 7, 2009

Oh, the IFCC where he teaches his classes is right on the yellow MAX line.
posted by Caduceus at 5:08 PM on October 7, 2009

Be careful single guy. Dance lessons for lonely men are a bit of a con area. You will find some very attractive friendly female dance instructors who seem to really enjoy teaching you while taking your money. Think with the larger head.

Also don't give them your friends' names and numbers unless you really want to piss off your friends. They will call and call and call....
posted by srboisvert at 5:26 PM on October 7, 2009

Swing. Not that hard to learn. Great music to listen to and fun to watch even when you're off the floor. You'll probably find lots of clubs that you can go to. The clubs/dances in my town often give free lessons if you get there early.
posted by 14580 at 5:50 PM on October 7, 2009

Thursday night swing at the PPAA is just across the river from downtown: http://portlandlindy.org/

The rest of the swing dance info for Portland can be found at http://swingout.net
posted by kbuxton at 6:03 PM on October 7, 2009

Is there a particular music style you think you might like to dance to? Starting with the music you like might help you choose a dance style that would suit you.

I can't offer much advice on social dance, since the dance styles I do are solo, but I've heard very good things from fellow dancers about the Community Education classes available through Portland Community College. They have classes in swing, tango, salsa, and more - there's even a class called "Dance: A Crash Course for Weddings and Parties." Might be a good place to start.

Good luck, fellow Portlander, and have fun!
posted by velvet winter at 6:29 PM on October 7, 2009

Others have told me that they've gone to the Crystal Ballroom and other McMenamin's places that will sometimes have afternoon dance lessons before an evening event/band/whatever. It was reasonably cheap, you can just show up, and stay or go for the rest of the evening's activities. Also, I think RiverPlace Athletic Club sometimes has dance lessons. (I don't think you have to be a member, but not sure.)

Also, if you want cheap and more organized, I'd check out Portland Park and Rec (or Tualatin or whichever one is closer.)

I would avoid Arthur Murray. My dad is a widower and they took him for a ride. It is practically "prostitution lite" the way it is run and they prey on lonely singles. He spent thousands and thousands of dollars and was locked into a very long contract.
posted by Bueller at 9:31 PM on October 7, 2009

Contradance! It's easy to learn and may give you confidence to try other types of dance.
posted by jvilter at 9:44 PM on October 7, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks for the info all! I'm not really looking for something like Arthur Murray or even individual classes. I'm not against individual classes though.... I'm just hoping for something more group oriented. That seems like a lot of fun to me, and possibly less intimidating too - not to mention cheaper.
posted by 2oh1 at 11:26 AM on October 8, 2009

I've really fallen in love with swing dancing and blues dancing. I live in Boston, but I have friends who tell me the dancing in Portland is really great.

It isn't that I'd tell you not to try Tango, but in my experience it is as a lead a more difficult dance to pick up than swing. (It is a beautiful dance, and one where once you get good you can lead a girl who is just starting through a lot of cool moves, but getting to that point is difficult)

In particular East coast swing (also called jitterbug, and sometimes just swing) is really easy to learn and a lot of fun. If you really enjoy that, then you can expand out into doing Lindy hop or West Coast Swing, which add on a bit more flair and excitement, but retain a lot of the moves you learned with east coast swing.

At least for swing, you have two main options for getting started. If you want to jump right into the swing of things (sorry I swear that was accidental) then your best bet is to just go out to one of the weekly dance events, which almost always have a free beginner lesson, and then sticking around for the dancing afterwards to get in some more practice. You could do this a couple of times and still be getting a bit better each time. After that you might want to sign up for a weekly group class to start learning a bit more.

e.g. http://www.portlandlindy.org/

The other option is to start out immediately with signing up for a weekly group class. This might be good if you are a bit intimidated by the idea of getting started dancing. The downside is that it is harder to know how to pick a good set of instructors. i would suggest taking classes from people who run weekly or monthly dances, since they tend to be more committed to making sure that lots of people fall in love with dancing, and less with making lots of money in the short run.

Addressing your larger goal of wanting to take girls out dancing: you really don't need to become a great dancer before you do this. It can be a lot of fun going with a girl to take a lesson and dance something neither of you have ever done before (since many dance events start with a beginner lesson). But if it would make you feel more confident, taking a class or two first, before you bring her along, might also work.

I guess what I am trying to say is that you don't have to wait until you are an expert dancer; a lot of the fun can come from learning something new together.

If it would help I can ask my Portland friends what they would suggest as a good place to start, just send me a PM if that would help.
posted by vegetableagony at 5:14 PM on October 16, 2009

This is an awfully late response, but if you're still checking, try Viscount Studios. They have a website and offer classes in just about every kind of dance you can imagine.
posted by space_cookie at 10:30 PM on October 25, 2009

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