Which To Try
I’ve done all sorts of social dancing over the years and I sometimes get asked what form of dancing I recommend? The easiest response is to try all of them. But that's not terribly helpful.
Mostly you should find a group where you enjoy the people. And, frankly, if you’re single, you’ll probably notice whether there are other single people there. And yes, dancing is a great way to meet people. But beyond that very important consideration, here’s what I can add about the various different forms.
International Folk Dancing: This draws from any and all dancing from around the world. It’s actual dancing to the beat and sometimes it’s a tricky beat. If you have no sense of rhythm, you’ll be frustrated. It’s a skill and it will take time for you to develop mastery. More
Barn Dancing: Easy, simple patterns, done with a lot of energy and typically to live music. Being on the beat is recommended but not essential. You’ll probably be able to get through the dances the first time you try. While the "easy, simple patterns" are easy to master, the pitfall here is that you can get bored with it all. But it's a great way to get started with social dancing and it's a lively scene these days. More
English Country Dancing: More sedate, more subtle in its pleasures. The patterns are more complex than you’ll find in barn dancing, and to my mind that makes it more interesting. Being on the beat is recommended but not essential. This is my favorite form of dance. More
Scottish Country Dance: There are two forms to Scottish, very fast and very slow. There is footwork to learn and they really care that it’s done well. Most groups do some stretching before they begin. It’s fairly athletic and you need to be on the beat. The patterns are as complex as you’ll find at English Country Dance. More
Square Dancing: Nothing strenuous. It’s more fun if you walk on the beat, but there are many who don’t. You’re responding to calls from the caller and you never really know what’s coming next. And the calls come fast and furious. But you need to know the calls before you can show up at a dance. You should expect to join a class and take lessons for a little bit. Getting good at a level beyond an introductory course may take as much as a year. But the lessons are fun, and it’s a good journey with nice people. Highly recommended except for the square dance clothes, and even that's changing. The western look used to be almost required, but nowadays people are dressing to suit themselves. Being on the beat feels better but many get by without having that ability. If I'm just judging purely on "how much fun it is," I'd give the nod to square dancing. More
Irish Céilí Dance: Again you’re learning a set pattern for a dance. But this time there's footwork that goes with it. Helps to be on the beat and light on your feet. You’ll be joining a real live community with social connections to each other, but they’re very welcoming to outsiders.
Men, remember, if you want to hang out with your guy friends, watch football. If you want to meet women, they like to dance. Go dancing.