Ballroom and Latin Dance Lessons in Chicago
Are your friends sick of hearing about your stamp collection? No? Well, we think it’s time to find a new hobby anyhow. Learn to dance!
Dance Lesson Quick Info:
We offer a 30 minute introductory private lesson for only $45. Schedule that here.
In the introductory lesson, you can expect to chat with your instructor about your dance goals and learn some basic movements.
Each regular private lesson is one full hour with up to two students and one instructor.
Work on the dance style(s) that interest you most
For you to practice at home, you'll have free access to our online tutorials, which no other dance studio offers.
Rates vary depending on the number of hours purchased at a time.
We are BYOB, so bring along your favorite wine or beer and we'll provide the glassware.
If interested in working with Master Instructor, Matthew Sove, please contact us for rates and availability.
Private Dance Lessons
You might be coming to us with some dance knowledge and know exactly what you want to accomplish. Or maybe you know next to nothing about dancing. That’s ok! We were all beginner dancers once, and we know that it can be scary to start from zero. The good news is that we’re judgement free, laid back and move at a pace that is comfortable to you.
Taking private lessons allows you to spend time one-on-one with your instructor, working towards your dance goals. No hidden agendas (we’re not trying to turn you into competition dancers, we promise); instead, we collaborate with you to get you feeling comfortable moving in a way that you like. While we draw from traditions of Ballroom and Latin Dance (Waltz, Foxtrot, Tango, Salsa, Rumba, Bachata, ChaCha, Swing, and more), we know that sometimes people don’t fit so neatly into those dance boxes. So, if you have other ideas about dances you’d like to learn, we’re all ears!
Each private lesson is one full hour with a dance instructor. Rates range from $90 - $110 per lesson depending on the number of lessons purchased at a time. Per lesson pricing is also available. Rates for working with Matthew, Master Instructor, range from $145 - $175/hour
If you have more questions, check out Private Dance Lesson FAQ or contact us to start a conversation with a dance instructor today.
Uncertain about private lessons? We offer a free 30 minute consultation for you to meet a dance instructor, discuss your goals, and try us out. Contact us to set up a consultation.
Private Group Dance Lessons:
Private group dance lessons are useful if you’d like to take a lesson with your family or friends. In a small group setting, you will learn the dances you choose. Many couples take advantage of group lessons to prepare their family and friends to dance at wedding receptions or local dance venues. Contact us to set up a lesson.
Looking for a more social learning environment? Check out our BYOB Group Dance Classes.
Private Lesson FAQ
Do I need a partner to take private social dance lessons?
Nope! Our private dance lessons are great for couples or solo dancers! If you feel like you’d like to take up dancing or continue dancing without a partner, that’s totally fine. While many of our students come as a couple, there’s much to be gained by dancing solo. As a solo dancer, you’ll be able to receive more feedback from your instructor on your leading/following skills, musicality, and technique. Whether you’re new to dancing or a seasoned dancer, taking social dance lessons as an individual at Ballroom Dance Chicago will allow you to develop a deeper understanding of dance, and pursue the elements of dancing that you find inspiring!
We believe that social dancing is about creating and developing partnerships, whether that’s with your significant other or a complete stranger. If you’re a solo dancer and would like to bring different partners to your lessons, that’s fine, too. If you’re interested in starting dance lessons as an individual and bringing various partners/friends to your lessons, simply let us know ahead of time so we can plan for your lesson.
By taking social dance lessons as an individual, students gain the full attention of their instructor, allowing them to learn more quickly and focus on deepening their understanding of movement and dance.
How do I get paired with my instructor? Will I always have the same one?
Dance instructors are paired with students primarily based on scheduling and availability. The whole team at Ballroom Dance Chicago is fully qualified and excited to share their dance knowledge with you! That being said, once you come in for the first time, you’ll meet your instructor and schedule your following lessons so that your subsequent lessons will be with the same teacher, and you can work together towards your goals. Sometimes students find it helpful to have a primary teacher and take a lesson with another instructor occasionally to gain another perspective.
What should I wear to my dance lessons?
Wear anything that makes you feel confident, comfortable, and allows you to move – whether that’s yoga pants, a tuxedo, or anything in between. Typically, our students come dressed in slacks, jeans, t-shirts, and day dresses, but feel free to dress to your personal taste. There is no dress code at Ballroom Dance Chicago; as long as you feel comfortable in your outfit, it’s fine by us!
For footwear, we recommend wearing shoes with a leather or suede bottom that enclose your foot so that you can slide easily on the floor and your shoes stay firmly attached to your feet. For this reason, dancing in flip-flops, or sneakers is not permitted. Dress shoes, low heels with straps, or pumps, usually work the best. Ladies, if you’re uncomfortable wearing heels, don’t! Dancing in flats is completely fine. As you begin taking lessons, you may discover that you’d like to purchase dance shoes. Speak to your instructor about what kind of shoes would work for the dance you’re learning/would like to learn, and they can send you in the right direction for purchasing dance shoes.
While fashion does have a place on the dance floor, there are specific trends to reconsider/avoid while dancing:
- Long necklaces generally become a nuisance when you dance as you begin to spin, and your necklace flies out in front of you. By wearing shorter necklaces, your partner will appreciate not being hit in the chest/face as they’re leading you into a turn.
- Large rings can also become problematic if you’re doing a dance with a lot of changes to the hand hold, such as swing or salsa.
- Tops with drapey and excessive fabric for the sleeves can hinder the arm connection between you and your dance partner. Wear at your own risk!
- If you want to wear short skirts/dresses while dancing, just make sure to wear shorts underneath.
- Keep in mind you’ll be touching people’s underarms. Sleeveless clothing is not the best idea for social dancing.
- Save your studded clothing for another going-out occasion. No one likes being poked.
- If you have long hair, make sure to put it up in a bun, so that when you’re spinning, you don’t whip your dance partner/yourself in the eyes!
What dances do you teach?
We believe that dancing starts with the music and individual expression. At Ballroom Dance Chicago, we’re open to teaching any traditional Ballroom & Latin Styles: Foxtrot, Waltz, East Coast & West Coast Swing, Salsa, Rumba, Country Two Step, but we also teach solo and partner grooving.
Because our studio does not participate in competitions, we don’t stick to rigid syllabi. While we have knowledge of, and take technique from the syllabus of traditional Ballroom and Latin dance, but we don’t let the syllabus dictate or limit our dancing. If you’re interested in learning or developing your skills in a specific style, we’ll use steps from that syllabus that we find will fit your dancing goals.
What if I have no idea which dance style I want to learn?
Firstly, not to worry! In our private dance lessons, we’re here to help you discover what it is about dancing that you enjoy. When students come in and have no ideas about what kind of dance they would like to learn, we talk about what music they like; we ask about what inspires them. You don’t need a large knowledge, or any knowledge, for that matter, of dance styles to begin taking and enjoying dance lessons. Perhaps you simply want to move comfortably with your partner? Maybe you just want to have a more physical pastime? Many of our students are beginners that come to us without a clear idea of their goals. In these cases we will take traditional steps from a variety of styles, and modify them to fit the student’s needs.
When Lady Gaga comes on, and everyone’s dancing solo, what do I do?
We also offer curriculum in solo social dancing and grooving. As partner dancing becomes less common in popular social venues, we find more and more people asking us to teach them to dance and groove socially as an individual and as a couple. Our solo social dancing focuses on gaining comfort and confidence moving, while listening, interpreting and physically responding to various types of music.
Do you have open social dances?
We have open dance parties once every quarter, where we have cocktails, group classes, performances and other surprises. Our parties are open to all Ballroom Dance Chicago students and their friends and family. These parties are always tons of fun and are a great excuse to get dressed up and dance. They also provide a great opportunity to share your dance learning experience with your friends and family! Have a friend who has always wanted to learn to salsa? Bring her to the dance party so she can meet us!
Dance parties also provide a great opportunity to sample other kinds of dance you may be interested in. Each of our parties includes a group dance class in various styles, where you’ll learn a few moves you can use for the rest of the event! Check out the photos from our last party on our facebook page.
We also have group dance sessions available for a more social learning environment. We believe that private dance lessons are a better way to gain understanding of partner dancing because you can get personal feedback more often than in a group setting, but we understand that if you want to dance socially, it helps to gain practice by learning in a social environment. At our group lessons, we’ll spend time rotating partners so that you gain skill in leading or following a variety of people.
Find out if group classes are right for you by visiting our Group Dance Lessons page.
Why should I take private lessons instead of group lessons?
Private dance lessons provide a learning environment that group lessons cannot:
All private dance lessons are tailored specifically to your goals and needs.
In private dance lessons, we progress at your pace. Aren’t quite getting the material we’re working on? No problem. We can use the entire hour to work on one small detail that will make you feel comfortable. Private dance lessons ensure that you feel comfortable and confident performing the movement before we move on. In a group setting, the instruction caters to the entire group. While you may get a general idea of how to perform a specific movement, there will be less time for discussing nuances or gaining full comfort with the dance.
In private dance lessons, we cover material that you’re interested in learning. As the sole student(s) in the dance lesson, you decide what you’d like to work on. That’s not to say your instructor doesn’t have a vision and a plan for your dancing, but you are the one that sets your goals and decides what you’d like to achieve. Maybe you’re not inspired by salsa, and would rather learn to waltz. That’s totally fine! Maybe you aren’t sure what you like, but want to try both salsa and waltz to see. That’s also totally fine! Maybe you see a dance on youtube that you would love to spend time working on? Great! In private lessons, we’re here to inspire you to love dance in ways that fit your desires. In group dance sessions, the instructor has a clear outline for what material the group should be covering, and there’s not time to explore other things that interest you.
In addition to private dance lessons, should I also take group dance lessons?
Group dance lessons provide a very different learning environment than private dance lessons, and focus on putting the skills you gained in private lessons to use in a social setting.
For both solo students and couples, group dance lessons provide an opportunity to meet and dance with other students and refine your social dancing skills. When you dance with the same person time and time again, whether that’s your partner or your instructor, you may begin to develop certain habits in your leading and following. By rotating partners in the group dance lessons, you’ll gain a better understanding of how your individual dancing affects the partnership. Say you have led your usual partner in a spin many times, and it goes well. Then, when you continue to rotate partners, you’re consistently having trouble leading a spin. That can be very informative! Perhaps your usual partner is picking up on a nuance of your leading that new follows can’t detect. Perhaps your lead of the spin isn’t as clear as you had imagined. Regardless, dancing with new people opens up a dialogue about the details of your leading and following that you might have been unaware of otherwise.
Group dance lessons are also a great way to socialize! In private lessons, it’s easy to form a close relationship with your instructor, but not have a chance to interact or practice dancing with other people. We believe that dancing goes beyond the connection between just you and your partner, but extends into a larger community of dancers. Our group sessions foster inclusive community by making dance accessible to a wide variety of people, and creating an environment where everyone can thrive.
To find out more about our group sessions, visit our Group Dance Lessons page.
I am a female, will my dance instructor be male?
Not necessarily. At Ballroom Dance Chicago, we focus foremost on the leading and following skills that form good dance partnerships, regardless of the gender of the partners. The traditions of ballroom dance are steeped in gender roles: each partnership consists of a male leading and lady following. At Ballroom Dance Chicago, we acknowledge that when ballroom dance began to form, there were certain cultural and societal norms that restricted dancing partnerships to strictly male/female. But we’ve moved beyond that! We believe that there are particular ingredients necessary for a successful partnership that are completely separate from male-/female-ness.
Our focus is on creating better leaders and better followers. All of our dance instructors are fully qualified to instruct both leads and follows, regardless of gender. If you’re a solo student, we often suggest taking dance lessons with multiple instructors so that you gain feedback from more than one perspective (instructors who primarily lead and instructors who primarily follow). That way, you can receive more nuanced guidance.
If you go out social dancing, you’ll often see dancers paired in ways different than male/female or switching roles between dances. When you’re learning to dance, it’s good to learn both leading and following parts regardless of your gender, so that a) you can perform your preferred role better by knowing how the other part feels and b) you are a more versatile dancer. If you’re able to dance as both a lead and a follow, you’ll have many more people that you’ll be able to connect with through dance!
If I’m male do I have to lead the dance? If I'm female do I have to follow?
Absolutely not! At Ballroom Dance Chicago, we focus on the individual goals of each dancer, and fit our curriculum to our student’s needs. While we acknowledge the tradition of males leading females, we don’t adhere to that tradition. Regardless of which role you would like to learn, we are willing to teach you.
Ballroom dance is steeped in seemingly arbitrary traditions, “all males must lead” being one of them. For our purposes (we don’t attend competitions), we believe that everyone should learn the part they feel comfortable or interested in exploring. Both parts are a necessary ingredient to a successful partnership, and we believe you don’t need to stick to one role. Maybe you want to lead? Maybe you want to follow? Maybe you want to learn both? While training in one role for a period of time leads to the most progress in that role, there is no strict adherence to leading and following roles based simply on one’s anatomy. In this case, we believe the phrase is “You do you.”
Perhaps you don’t have a strong preference either way? When you come in for your first dance lesson, we’ll spend time having both partners experience leading and following. That way you can discuss the options with your dance instructor and together come to a conclusion about who wants to learn the leader’s and follower’s parts. Regardless of which part you decide to learn, throughout the learning process, your dance instructor will ask you to experience the other person’s part so that you can be more informed of what each of you are trying to accomplish. Some students even focus on trying to learn both the leader’s and the follower’s parts so that they are better able to perform their preferred role and are more versatile dancers.
How Is Ballroom Dance Chicago different from other dance studios?
From the outside, we may look similar to other dance studios, but we’re not.
- We know that people spend more and more time every year sitting in front of their screens, creating pseudo connections with their loved ones. We also know that dancing together is a direct remedy to this prevalent cultural issue. We understand the importance of our work as dancers, as teachers, and as people promoting genuine connection.
- We know that our jobs go far beyond teaching people to physically accomplish movement together. We focus on creating an atmosphere that allows people to connect, express, and find their individuality.
- We’re committed to making dance accessible for everyone. We know the joy that dancing and learning to dance can bring individuals and partnerships, and we’re dedicated to including as many people as possible in that joy.
- We’re a close knit staff. At Ballroom Dance Chicago, we all work full time. That means that most of our waking hours are spent thinking about you, our dance students, and how to make our studio the best that it can be.
- Rather than teaching a bunch of footwork (footwork isn’t dancing, people!), we focus on the fundamentals of leading and following and musicality, and we make sure our students feel good about physically connecting with their partner. We won’t teach you grand, dramatic steps from a syllabus (unless that’s what you’re into) that you won’t be able to use to achieve your specific goals
To see more about how we’re different, visit our Why We’re Better page.
How often should I come for dance lessons?
Everyday, three hours a day. Ok, that’s a joke, but the sentiment is accurate. Whenever you’re not at Ballroom Dance Chicago taking a lesson, you should be practicing your dancing on your own. Just like learning and refining any skill, dancing takes time and dedication to feel confident performing. The more time you can dedicate to your learning process both inside and outside the studio, the better.
At the beginning of the learning process, it’s especially important to dedicate a few hours each week to learning and practicing your dance skills. Think of when you first learned to tie your shoes: at the beginning, you had to practice often so that you could get all the complicated motions into your body. While that might seem like an immature example, learning to dance is like learning to tie your shoes, except your entire body is involved and the shoelaces you’re trying to tie are also moving and thinking independently of you.
By taking dance lessons often, you can expect to:
- Gain comfort and progress at a much faster pace
- Retain information more readily and spend less time in each of your dance lessons reviewing what you worked on last lesson
- Spend more time studying the nuances of each movement, allowing you to gain a deeper understanding of dancing
- Become more comfortable with the studio and staff at Ballroom Dance Chicago
- Feel more mentally and physically healthy
- Be the first to know about Ballroom Dance Chicago events & news
- You’ll be more inspired to practice between dance lessons because the information will still be fresh
Ultimately, it's up to you and your schedule to decide how often you'd like to come in, but we say, "The more, the better!"
I’m a terrible dancer. How many dance lessons do I need?
Here we’ll attempt to answer the age old question of insatiability: When is enough enough? There is no answer, at least a universal one. When you meet us, you’re probably expecting us to give you a number of number lessons you’ll need to take based on how well you performed on your first day. Well, prepare to be surprised, and maybe disappointed, because we’re not going to do that.
WHAT? You mean you can’t tell me how quickly I’ll progress, and where I can expect to be in x amount of lessons?
The short answer is, no.
The long answer is that the number of dance lessons you need isn’t dependent on your goals. The number of dance lessons you commit to is based upon the other limitations you have in your life: your schedule, your budget, your dedication to practicing outside of lessons. Regardless of what you’re hoping to accomplish through dancing, we suggest that you take as many lessons as you’re able and dedicate time outside your lessons to practicing your skills on your own.
At any point in the learning process, you’ll probably have more skills than you had prior, but that doesn’t mean that you’ll feel good about it. When you begin taking dance lessons, it may feel like you’re progressing very quickly because every aspect of dancing is new. This same idea may make it feel as though progress is very slow. “There are so many things to think about!” is an oft heard sentiment. Don’t worry, it won’t always be this way. As you continue taking dance lessons, there aren’t any fewer things to consider, but you will become more comfortable and have to spend less energy thinking about every detail.
Regardless of how many dance lessons you take or how often you’re able to take lessons, we expect that you’re committing to the process of becoming the best dancer you can be, and we’re dedicated to helping you get there.
Are your private dance lessons available at both your Lakeview studio and West Loop loft?
The short answer is “yes!” While neither space necessarily has an advantage over the other for social dance lessons, if you are a competition level waltzer, for instance, the Lakeview studio might be a better fit for you because we have a gigantic competition sized dance floor. Our loft in West Loop works beautifully for everything else, including social dance lessons, wedding dance lessons, and BYOB group dance classes.