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Dance Styles

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East Coast Swing

East Coast Swing, a vivacious dance form that originated in the 1940s, is based upon the Lindy-Hop. With its rhythmic and adaptable nature, this dance can be used socially, competitively, or even choreographed for performances, making it a versatile choice for any occasion. Unlike the acrobatic Lindy-Hop, East Coast Swing doesn't require exceptional strength or flexibility, making it an ideal option for dancers of all ages and skill levels.

Whether you're a seasoned dancer or just starting, East Coast Swing is a high-spirited dance that will have you skipping, rocking, and twisting the night away on the dance floor. Its' signature triple-step and rock-step rhythm, combined with the energy of the music, make it a crowd-pleaser at any social event. Plus, its fun and playful nature makes it a great way to connect with your partner or make new friends on the dance floor."

West Coast Swing

West Coast Swing is a sleek and sophisticated partner dance that can be enjoyed in a variety of musical genres, including R&B, Blues, top-40 and Contemporary Hip-Hop sounds, disco, and even country music. It evolved from the Lindy-Hop, just like the East Coast Swing, but boasts a unique California style that sets it apart. Slick, sexy, and smooth, this dance style has captivated the hearts of dancers worldwide.

One of the unique features of West Coast Swing is its emphasis on improvisation and creativity. Dancers are encouraged to move freely to the flow of the music, making it an exciting and dynamic dance style. Whether you're a beginner or an advanced dancer, West Coast Swing has something to offer. Its basic steps are easy to learn, making it accessible to dancers of all levels, while advanced dancers can challenge themselves by creating clever tricks and new moves.


Latin Dance Couple


Bolero is a romantic and sensual dance that has earned the moniker "Cuban Dance of Love". Its origins are believed to be rooted in Afro-Cuban and Spanish folk dances, such as the Danzón, Beguine, and Fandango, but it has evolved into a unique dance form with many variations in different parts of the world. The timing of Bolero differs depending on the country you are in, with varying styles in Spain, Cuba, Mexico, and other regions.

In contemporary ballroom dancing, Bolero is a slow and expressive dance that is often described as a hybrid of Rumba and Waltz. It combines the rhythmic patterns of Rumba with the graceful rise and fall motion of Waltz, creating a mesmerizing and romantic dance experience. Bolero is typically danced to music with a slower tempo than Rumba, making it the slowest of all the American Style Rhythm dances.


Samba, originating from Brazil, is a lively and dynamic dance style that has captivated people around the world with its rich and syncopated rhythms and its alluring dance moves. Its popularity has made it one of the most infectious and widely recognized dance forms from the South American continent.

Samba is a party dance, consisting of lots of different rhythms, and is often danced to Carnival-style music. The rhythm of the music encourages the style and flair that make Samba so enjoyable to dance to. Samba is also versatile, as it can be danced to many different styles of music, making it perfect for dancing to today's popular music.

In Samba, the basic movement involves a combination of quick steps and bounces, known as the "bounce step." It also includes various hip movements and body rolls that add to the sensuality and energy of the dance. The dance is characterized by its fast and rhythmic footwork, and by the upbeat and vibrant atmosphere it creates.

Disco Hustle

The Hustle is a partner dance that originated in the 1970s and gained immense popularity during the disco era. Initially, the term referred to a catchall name for disco dances that were popular in the 70s. However, over time, The Hustle has come to refer to the unique partner dance done in ballrooms and nightclubs to disco or any pop music.

The Hustle dance features a series of smooth and gliding steps that are easy to learn, making it an excellent choice for beginners. This dance style incorporates a variety of moves, including spins, turns, and dips, that are executed with precision and grace. The dance is characterized by its quick, fluid footwork and the close physical connection between partners.

The dance steps of The Hustle share similarities with swing dance, with both featuring a series of syncopated footwork and turns. The Hustle is typically danced to upbeat music, with a tempo ranging from 100 to 120 beats per minute. The dance is often accompanied by flashy costumes and disco-inspired lighting, adding to the overall spectacle of the experience.



Mambo is a sultry and emotional Latin American ballroom dance that originated in Cuba in the 1940s. It's characterized by the swaying movements of the hips, facial expressions, and intricate arm movements and holds that add to the dance's sensuality. The Mambo's popularity skyrocketed in the 1950s and 1960s when it spread to the United States, and it continues to be a beloved dance today.


The Mambo is known for its upbeat tempo and lively rhythm, making it a perfect dance for social events and performances. The intricate footwork and hip movements require a partner who is attuned to your movements and can create a seamless dance routine. This adds to the excitement and thrill of the dance, as partners work together to create a mesmerizing performance.

The Mambo's sensuality has captured the attention of many, and it's been featured in popular culture, including the classic movie "Dirty Dancing." The dance's influence on modern music can also be seen, as many contemporary songs incorporate the Mambo's upbeat rhythm and sensual movements.

Latin Club


Bachata is a dance that originated in the Dominican Republic and is achieved with a unique walking Cuban hip motion combined with a sensual "pop". The dance can be performed in both open and closed positions, depending on the setting and mood of the partners. While similar to Merengue in its rhythmic style, dips are not original to Bachata, and turns are done less frequently, with an emphasis on fluidity and connection between the partners.


Have you heard the old saying that goes, "If you can walk, you can dance Merengue"? While it's true that the basic steps of Merengue are simple, walking won't quite cut it when it comes to the rhythmic and sensual movements of this popular dance. The steady, upbeat tempo of the music will entice you to move your hips and sway your body in a way you never thought possible. 


Salsa, derived from the Spanish word "sauce," refers to the spicy and hot flavor of this popular dance style. Salsa is a complex blend of many different rhythms, combining the infectious beats of Afro-Cuban music with enhanced jazz textures. This fusion creates an aggressive, high-energy pulse that has become popular worldwide.


With its roots in Cuba, salsa has been heavily influenced by Latin American music and dance styles. Many of the dance patterns used in salsa are closely related to those of the Mambo and Cha-Cha-Cha. Salsa has evolved over the years, incorporating elements of hip-hop, funk, and R&B to create a dynamic and constantly evolving dance form.


Couple dancing swing



The Waltz is one of the most beautiful and sophisticated ballroom dances, with its graceful and flowing movements, continuous turns, and "rise and fall" technique. This progressive dance has a tempo that is typically danced in 3/4 time, giving it a smooth, romantic, and sometimes melancholic feel.

As a beginner, the Waltz is an excellent choice to start your dance journey, as its basic steps can be learned relatively quickly. The dance is characterized by subtle sway actions and rise and fall movements, which give it an incredibly smooth and gliding appearance. The feet stay in contact with the floor, emphasizing the elegance and fluidity of the dance.

Waltz is an ideal dance for those looking for a sense of timeless grace and classic romance. It has been a staple of ballroom dancing for centuries and has been enjoyed by dancers of all ages and backgrounds. The elegant and intricate moves require a degree of skill and precision, making it a perfect choice for those looking to challenge themselves.


The Foxtrot is a classic ballroom dance style that immediately conjures images of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in their dazzling performances. This dance style has stood the test of time and is still widely popular among ballroom enthusiasts today. It is often danced to Big Band music, making it a favorite choice for social events.

As a smooth and progressive dance, the Foxtrot is characterized by elegant and continuous movements that seamlessly flow across the dance floor. Its smooth and graceful movements make it an attractive choice for many dancers, but don't let its seemingly simple appearance fool you. The Foxtrot is actually one of the most challenging dances to master.

Dancing the Foxtrot requires a high level of coordination, control, and skill. It involves maintaining a strong frame, executing precise footwork, and mastering the delicate balance between leading and following. However, with practice and patience, anyone can learn to dance the Foxtrot.


Originating in Argentina, the Ballroom Tango is a passionate and captivating dance that has become increasingly popular among dancers of all levels. While it shares some similarities with the Argentine Tango, the Ballroom Tango is mainly danced in a closed position, allowing dancers to focus on the connection between partners and the dynamic interplay of movement.

The Ballroom Tango's music, characterized by dramatic rhythms and sweeping melodies, perfectly complements the dance's sensual and dramatic movements. The combination of music and movement creates a dance experience that is both thrilling and captivating, making it a popular choice for beginners and experienced dancers alike.


The Rumba is a captivating and sensual dance with a slow tempo and a lot of emotional depth. Originating in Cuba in the early 20th century, it has since become one of the most popular Latin dances around the world. This dance provides the foundation for many other Latin dances, particularly the Cha-Cha-Cha, making it an essential skill for any aspiring Latin dancer.

The distinctive characteristic of the Rumba is taking each step without initially placing weight on it. This technique, known as "ball-flat" footwork, creates a smooth and fluid movement that is essential to the dance's sensuality. The steps are taken with a slightly bent knee, which, when straightened, causes the hips to sway from side to side, in what has come to be known as "Cuban Motion." This fluid motion is what gives the Rumba its romantic and sultry appeal, making it a popular choice for wedding dances, romantic occasions, and social events.


The Cha-Cha is an electrifying and versatile Latin dance style that originated in the 1950s in the United States, evolving from the Mambo. This vibrant and cheeky dance is known for its flirty movements and unique ‘Cha-Cha’ timing, which is characterized by a syncopated rhythm that adds an exciting and playful twist to any dance routine.

What makes the Cha-Cha so unique is its versatility, as it can be performed in a variety of music genres, from country to Latin beats. Its upbeat tempo and playful rhythm make it a great dance for beginners to learn, as it is relatively easy to pick up and provides an excellent introduction to Latin dance culture.

At Cortez Ballroom, our highly qualified instructors are experts in teaching the Cha-Cha, offering quality and affordable dance instruction to students in San Diego and Southern CA. We believe that dancing the Cha-Cha is not just about learning the steps, but also about feeling the music and connecting with your partner.

The Cha-Cha is a perfect dance for couples looking to add some spice to their dance routines or for singles looking to meet new people and have fun. Whether you are looking to dance competitively or just for fun, the Cha-Cha is sure to get your heart pumping and your feet moving.

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Nightclub 2-Step

Over the course of the past century, the 2-Step dance has undergone various transformations, giving rise to a plethora of versions. One such contemporary style is the Nightclub 2-Step, which first emerged in the 1970s and has since gained widespread popularity on dance floors across the country. This versatile dance style is perfect for easygoing, moderate-tempo music and provides a welcome break between faster dances.

If you're looking to learn a new dance style for your special day, the Nightclub 2-Step is an excellent option. Many couples opt to learn this dance for their wedding dance as it offers a romantic and graceful alternative to more energetic styles.

Unlike some of the more traditional ballroom dances, the Nightclub 2-Step dance position is natural and relaxed, making it ideal for those who prefer social "street-dancing" styles such as salsa. With its fluid movements and emphasis on the connection between partners, the Nightclub 2-Step is a perfect way to create lasting memories on the dance floor.

Progressive 2-Step

Over the past century, the 2-Step has undergone many transformations and has given rise to various versions. Among the more modern styles that emerged in the 1970s is the Nightclub 2-Step, a dance that has found its place on the dance floor and remains popular to this day. With its easygoing tempo and relaxed style, it's the perfect choice for moderate-tempo music, providing a welcome break between faster dances. In fact, many couples choose to learn the Nightclub 2-Step for their wedding dance.

One of the unique features of Nightclub 2-Step is the dance position. Unlike other dance styles, the position is more natural and relaxed, making it similar to social "street dancing" like salsa. This makes it easier for dancers to connect with each other and communicate through their movements. The dance is characterized by smooth, gliding movements and is typically performed in slow, romantic songs, making it an excellent choice for couples looking to create an intimate and romantic atmosphere on the dance floor.

Country Waltz

When it comes to dancing, there are a variety of styles that differ in formality and technique. Country dance, for instance, is known for its relaxed and informal style, which sets it apart from the elegant and structured ballroom waltz. Although the music in both styles may have the same time signatures, country waltz moves at a much faster tempo, giving it a more energetic and upbeat feel.

One of the key differences between the two styles is the footwork. In the country waltz, the gliding steps are consistent with wearing cowboy boots, which means the movements are smoother and more grounded compared to the classic version of the ballroom waltz, where the steps are on the balls of the feet. The steps in country waltz are also influenced by other popular country dances such as the two-step, which means there are spins and turns incorporated into the dance.

Another important aspect of the country waltz is its suitability for a range of settings. Whether it's a casual get-together with friends, a night out at a country music bar, or a wedding reception, the country waltz is a versatile dance style that can be enjoyed in any context. Plus, its accessibility and informality mean that anyone can learn the basic steps and start dancing right away.

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American or International Style?
Man dipping Lady while dancing Latin
Man and woman dancing Ballroom

American Style Ballroom dancing is a set of partner dances that are enjoyed around the world both socially and competitively. It is a sophisticated art form that is widely appreciated for its performance and entertainment aspects, often seen on stage, in film, and on television. At its widest definition, ballroom dancing refers to almost any type of partner dancing as recreation. However, with the emergence of "Dancesport" in modern times, the term has become more focused, typically referring to the ten international standard and Latin style dances.

While the traditional ballroom dance styles are universally recognized, two additional variations have emerged in the United States that blend elements of the standard and Latin styles with influences from other dance traditions. These styles are known as American Smooth and American Rhythm.

American Smooth incorporates four of the traditional ballroom dances: waltz, foxtrot, tango, and Viennese waltz. It emphasizes the flowing, continuous movements of the dancers across the floor, allowing for more freedom and creativity in their movements.

American Rhythm incorporates five Latin dances: cha-cha, rumba, swing, mambo, and bolero. This style emphasizes the energetic, rhythmic movements of the dancers, with a focus on sharp, staccato steps and body movements that accentuate the beat of the music.

American Smooth

  • Waltz - Known for its languid and fluid movements, the Waltz follows a slower 1-2-3 rhythm, giving dancers the freedom to express themselves gracefully and elegantly.

  • Tango - a dance that emphasizes dramatic stalking walks with sharp contrasts between slow and sharp movements. With origins in Argentina, the Tango is a sensual and intense dance that has captured the hearts of dancers all over the world.

  • Viennese Waltz - This flowing dance is performed to a quicker 1-2-3 rhythm than the American Waltz, adding an extra layer of excitement and energy to the dance.

  • Foxtrot - Although the steps may vary, the Foxtrot is often associated with the iconic dancing duo, Astaire and Rogers. This dance is a classic and elegant ballroom dance that is performed in a wide range of music genres, including jazz, swing, and big band.

​​American Rhythm

  • Cha-Cha - Known for its flirtatious vibe and rapid footwork, this Cuban-originated dance is perfect for those looking to add some energy to their moves.

  • Rumba - With smooth, sensual movements and subtle hip motions, the Rumba is all about expressing emotion and passion.

  • Swing - Incorporates elements from both East Coast and West Coast Swing. It's a great choice for beginners who want to get comfortable with partner dancing.

  • Bolero - A cousin to the American Rumba, this dance features waltz-like elements such as rise-n-fall, making it a romantic choice for special occasions.
  • Mambo - Closely related to classic social salsa, the Mambo is danced on a different beat, giving it a unique and lively feel.


International Style dancing emerged in Europe around the same time as American Style and was introduced to the United States in the 1960s. This unique style of dance is rooted in the traditions of ballroom dancing and has evolved to become a popular form of competitive and social dancing worldwide.

Initially referred to as English Style, International Style dancing is characterized by its precision, elegance, and gracefulness. This style is strictly regulated, with precise steps and techniques that must be adhered to, making it a highly technical and demanding form of dance.

International Style dancing is divided into two distinct categories: International Standard and International Latin. The International Standard category comprises five dances - Waltz, Tango, Foxtrot, Quickstep, and Viennese Waltz. These are danced in the closed position, with the partners maintaining a continuous connection throughout the dance.

The International Latin category, on the other hand, includes five lively dances - Cha-Cha, Samba, Rumba, Paso Doble, and Jive. These dances are more sensual and energetic, with a focus on hip movements and syncopated rhythms.

Dancers who compete in International Style are judged on their ability to execute the precise steps and techniques, as well as their musicality, timing, and presentation. This form of dance has become increasingly popular, with competitions held around the world and attracting dancers from all backgrounds.

International Standard​


  • Waltz - is characterized by its fluid, sweeping movements and slow 1-2-3 rhythm. This dance style is known for its gracefulness, elegance, and romantic appeal.

  • Tango - is a dramatic dance style that features sharp movements of the head and changes of direction, contrasted with slow stalking movements. This style of dance emphasizes precision and control and is sure to make an impression on any dance floor.

  • Viennese Waltz - is a whirling and flowing dance style, danced to a quick 1-2-3 rhythm. This dance style is characterized by its speed, agility, and intricate footwork. The Viennese Waltz is often described as the dance of the elite, with its refined and sophisticated movements.

  • Foxtrot - is an elegant and smooth dance style that emphasizes continuous movements across the floor. This style of dance is characterized by its smooth and flowing movements, which are designed to convey a sense of ease and sophistication.

  • Quickstep - is a dynamic dance style that features many patterns, including hops, runs, and rotations, danced at a fast tempo. This dance style is energetic and upbeat, with lively music that is sure to get your feet tapping.

International Latin

  • International Cha-Cha - This playful and cheeky dance style originated in Cuba and has since become a popular social dance worldwide. Its quick hip movements and syncopation make it a lively and energetic dance style that is great for all skill levels.

  • Samba - Originating in Brazil, Samba is a lively, joyous, and bouncy dance style with many changes in rhythm. This dance style is often associated with carnival celebrations and is sure to get you moving and sweating in no time.
  • International Rumba - Sensuous, smooth, and slow, to better highlight full hip action.

  • Paso Doble - This dramatic and exciting dance style originated in Spain and is often associated with bullfighting. The dance portrays the leader as a matador and the follower as the bull or cape. The music is typically upbeat and has a strong rhythm that is sure to get your heart racing.

  • Jive - is a high-energy and uninhibited form of swing that originated in the United States in the 1930s. It is characterized by its sharp kicks and flicks and fast-paced music that will get your feet moving in no time.

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