Knowing what music to pick or what dance to choose for your music can be confusing for beginners. If you already know what 4/4 time is, you can skip the rest of this paragraph. Most dance music is in 4/4 time. When you listen to dance music, there is a steady repetitive beat. There is also a place where the music keeps turning over. If you count the beats from the place where it feels like it keeps starting over, and you get to 4 before it starts again, that’s 4/4 time. If you count 3, that’s ¾ time and that’s a waltz. You can only waltz to three quarter time and everything in three quarter time is a waltz.
If it’s in 4/4 time, it’s often a judgment call. Many dances can be danced to the same song, but some are better than others. The speed and the mood have a lot to do with the dance you choose. If it’s bouncy, swing might be a better choice than foxtrot. If it’s smooth and romantic, foxtrot or night club two step would fit. If it has a latin beat, it’s better for Rumba, or Salsa, or Cha Cha.
One of the most common mistakes couples make in choosing their first dance music is to pick a ballad. Ballads are slow and romantic so it seems like a natural fit. The problem is that ballads have no beat. They are so slow that by the time you get to the second beat, you’ve already forgotten the first. Ballads are perfect for clutch and sway dancing, but if you want to do a real dance, you need something with a beat.
If you plan is to take dance lessons, I recommend letting your teacher show you which dances go with your music and pick the one that you like best. It’s also a good idea to bring more than one possible song. You may be surprised at which music is the easiest to dance to. If you have one song that really is your song, has special meaning for you and is the only one, don’t worry. Even a ballad can be worked with if it’s the only possibility. That’s one of the reasons to give yourselves plenty of lead time. If your music is challenging, it will take more practice, but it will still work!
By LaurieAnn Lepoff
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