As wedding dance experts, we meet a lot of people preparing for their first dance. And that means that we’ve heard a wide variety of perspectives about what it takes to be a good dancer, how the learning process works, and the general significance of a first dance. Most of these beliefs are based on people’s own experience or understanding, but unfortunately many of these beliefs are the complete opposite of the truth as we experts know it. As experienced dancers, instructors and wedding specialists, we bring you 5 of the most common misconceptions about the first dance:
The more time you put into learning to dance the stiffer you’ll look. “We don’t want to do anything crazy. We just want to look natural,” is what most couples say during their initial wedding consultation. Dancing, while it looks like fancy walking, is actually a complex coordination between two individual bodies. It only looks and feels natural after hours of focused study. The couples who look stiff and awkward at their wedding (think deer in headlights or awkwardly counting the music) most likely didn’t dedicate enough time to the process. Don’t be like Kanye West and Kim Kardashian at their wedding (is that even a dance?). Know that dancing is like anything else - you get out of it what you put into it. Time = ease, at least with dancing.
Dancing Is Easy. It’s true that it looks easy, when an expert dances. In Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Outliers, he says that it takes at least 10,000 hours for anyone to become a master at something. Don’t worry. You don’t have to put in 10,000 hours, but it’ll definitely take more than a few lessons.
It’s okay to leave dance lessons until the last minute. If you put off dancing until the last minute, you’re limiting what you can accomplish and how natural you’ll look and feel (see number 1). I mean, don’t get us wrong; something is better than nothing. Even if you’ve put off lessons until the week before your wedding, an hour or two of instruction will give you way more confidence than no help at all! But just don’t put it off! Start early, and if you get to where you want to be way before the wedding day, great!
The best dance studio is the one that is most convenient. All dance studios are not created equal. And all dance studios don’t focus on wedding dance lessons. Sure, every single dance studio lists “wedding dance lessons” or “first dance lessons” as one of their services, but that doesn’t mean they’re a “wedding dance studio.” This is the same as McDonald’s having a hamburger on their menu and calling them a “burger joint.” Just like a fast food place offers “burgers” because people want them, most dance studios offer first dance lessons because people need them, not because they’re experts or even care (wedding couples have long been the bread-and-butter of the ballroom/Latin dance studio world). Every dance studio will offer wedding lessons, even if they dedicate zero training and thought to how to best teach non-dancers to dance for their wedding. And don’t just listen to what a studio claims. Read reviews and take as many complimentary or introductory lessons as you need to until you find a dance studio that not only has experts, but also feels good to you.
They think the skills they learn end with the first dance. This could be true if you work with a studio that doesn’t explain how the skills you learn for your first dance apply to general dancing or if you work with a studio that gives you strict choreography (a good wedding dance studio would do neither of these things). Learning to dance is about understanding how to move with a partner and those skills can be applied to all sorts of music and moments.
As experienced dance instructors, we can see why many of these misconceptions of wedding dance persist: dance studios that aren't known for wedding dances are spreading misguided advice, while future Brides and Grooms are uneducated about what learning to dance is like. This combination is a recipe for disaster! As wedding dance experts, we’re trying to change people’s views about the first dance so that each couple feels confident and prepared on their wedding day. If you have more questions about dancing at your wedding, or concerns about your first dance, contact us or read our First Dance FAQ.