What Is the Difference Between Ballroom and Latin Dance?


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When people first decide to learn how to dance, they often wonder what is the difference between Ballroom and Latin dance and which one is right for them. 

Ballroom and Latin are both a lot of fun, but they are two different styles of dancing.

Ballroom dance generally refers to the waltz, foxtrot, tango, quickstep, and Viennese waltz. 

Latin dance, on the other hand, includes the cha-cha, samba, jive, paso doble, and rumba.

What Is the Difference Between Ballroom and Latin Dance?

1. The Hold Is Different

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The “hold” in dance is the position of the partners.

Ballroom dancing uses what is called a closed hold, where the partners face each other with the lady resting her left arm on the man’s right shoulder. 

The man places his right hand on the lady’s left shoulder blade, and the men left-hand holds the lady’s right. 

This position is always maintained in Ballroom dances.

In Latin dances, the partners switch between different holds depending on what the dance calls for. 

They can have an open hold, a closed hold, a double handhold, or a single handhold.

The variety of dance steps will dictate which hold to use.

[Related] Types of Ballroom Dance You Should Know About.

What is the Difference Between Ballroom and Latin Dance

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Ballroom dance partners posing

2. Music and Timing

Ballroom and Latin dances have very different music and timing. 

Ballroom dancing has a slow and graceful pace, where the two partners glide across the room effortlessly with the music. 

Latin dances have a much faster pace, and they are fun and lighthearted. 

Most of the time, Latin dances do not travel the room.

Latin can have high energy and hip action in addition to the footwork. 

It is a livelier, sexier style of dance. 

[Related] Ballroom dance styles.

3. The Footwork 

Where Did Ballroom Dancing Originated?

The footwork is another difference between these two styles of dancing. 

In Ballroom, the footwork is all in the toe and heel…

And the dancers keep their feet parallel to one another.

In Latin dance, the dancers turn their feet out, and they use the balls of their feet. 

This makes the two styles very different in technique.

Often people think all dances are similar with slight variations, but Ballroom and Latin dances are two different styles of dancing. 

Both are a lot of fun, and you should choose the one that sounds the most fun to you.

If you want to dance to lively music and show off your style, Latin may be the right choice. 

If you want to learn how to elegantly glide across the dance floor to your favorite classical piece, Ballroom will be right up your alley. 

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