The history of ballroom dancing goes back to the 15th century in Europe, during the Renaissance, when folk dancing became popular. The structured dancing in groups led to more developments as music styles changed and grew.
Ballroom dance styles that are now recognized as standards started in Vienna in the late 1700s with the Waltz. This was revolutionary in that dancers remained in closed position for the entire dance. This brought condemnation from the Church, but, despite that, the style survived. More music became written for the Waltz, and its popularity spread. Other styles of ballroom dance followed in European countries, such as Polka and Tango. As the trend spread to America and Latin-influenced countries, styles such as Foxtrot, Swing, Cha Cha, Samba, Rumba and Mambo were added.
In the 1900s in America, new ballroom dance styles emerged. The Foxtrot was first, followed by the Quickstep and Jitterbug. As music styles changed and Rock and Roll started to become popular, Jive, Swing and the Twist were added. These dances fit in with older styles of ballroom dance because they also involve couples dancing. In addition, standardized dance steps for each style have been established, with variations combined together to form dance routines in competitive dance.
For the last 30 years or so, ballroom dancing was only something for the older generation. Lately, with the popularity of dance reality shows like "Dancing With The Stars" and "So You Think You Can Dance?" ballroom dancing instruction has become popular again. Couples getting married may take lessons in ballroom dance so they can do a couples dance at their wedding and look elegant.
Ballroom dancers can enroll in their pick of competitions, and not just on reality television. In competitive dance, dancers learn and perfect routines in the styles of ballroom dance. The routines are judged by a panel of judges based on poise, accuracy, expression, posture and difficulty. Dances such as Waltz require a flowing style, while Swing has complex moves and acrobatic features. Each style of dance has its own characteristics, all of which can be enjoyed by those who learn.
The group DanceSport has even campaigned to make ballroom dancing an Olympic event. As of now, it has neither been approved nor rejected.
Ballroom Dance For Social Enjoyment
Whether you learn ballroom dancing for fun or for an event, groups of people enjoy getting together and dancing. Many dance studios and venues offer ballroom dance night, and many have a brief lesson before the event for those who wish to brush up or learn some new steps.