Why I Love Balboa (The Dance, Not The Island)

dancing Balboa

My first and still favorite Balboa teacher, Sylvia Sykes, dancing classic bal with the great Maxie Dorf

I might love the island if I’d ever been there, but this article is about the dance!  In a recent blog post about different swing styles, I got some feedback that made me realize I’d inadvertently given the impression that pure Bal was boring so you have to mix it up with Lindy.  The writer commented that if I’d ever danced with one of the old pros I’d know how fun pure bal could be.

Experienced dancers needn’t worry

What I had meant to say was that beginners, while learning the dance, can practice while mixing it in with a more familiar dance if they worry about boring their partners.  Advanced bal dancers need not worry about boring their partners as they well know.

Some of the old masters are still around, mostly in Southern California, and unlike my commenter, I have not enjoyed the pleasure of dancing with any of them.  I did have a dance with Maxie Dorf once when I attended a workshop shortly before he died.  Maxie was one of the greats and a dance with him was memorable and an honor.

Just one basic dance step will do!

I’ve often said that waltz is the only dance I know in which one can do only a basic step over and over and not get bored.  Now that I think of it, though, Bal fits that description as well.  Even though Bal has more than one step, I wouldn’t complain if one of those masters chose to do a whole dance using only the basic. With a skilled leader, pure bal is like floating on air.  It’s mesmerizing and intimate.  Some dancers refuse to dance it with anyone but their spouse because it feels so romantic.

It’s also a dance that takes up very little space and can be danced to very fast music without being physically tiring.  It’s challenging to learn, but so worth it.  Some of my favorite partners will turn down a dance when it’s too fast for them.  “You really have to learn Balboa one of these days!” I tell them.

Classic Bal is still alive!

You can see in this clip why it’s not boring and also why it’s a challenge to learn.

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If you want to dance to fast music (you don’t always have a choice, you know) without tiring yourself, and make your partner fall in love with you, if only for a few blissful minutes, make Balboa your next dance to learn!



By LaurieAnn Lepoff

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