What is the Difference Between Standard and Latin Ballroom Dance?



What is the difference between standard and Latin ballroom dance

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There are two main types of ballroom dance – standard and Latin. While the steps might be broadly similar, the two dances have very different styles. If you’re new to ballroom dance, it can be tricky to know which style to choose.

This blog post will help you understand the key differences between standard and Latin ballroom dancing.

What are Latin Dance and Standard Dance?

Ballroom Dance is Classified into two categories – standard dances, also called smooth, and Latin dances, also called rhythm dance.

The modern standard dances include Waltz, Foxtrot, Tango, Quickstep, and Viennese Waltz, and the Latin American Dances include Rumba, Cha Cha Cha, Samba, Jive, Swing dance, and Pasodoble.

Difference Between Standard and Latin Ballroom Dance

The main difference between standard and Latin dance is the frame, body movement, music, and timing.

The Frame Is Different

Standard dancing uses what is called a closed frame, 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 standard dances.

The dancers in Latin dances alternate between several holds based on the requirements of the dance.

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

The dance technique you choose will be determined by the range of dance moves.

Body Movement for Latin Dance

Latin dance is a dynamic, passionate form that combines the fluid movement of Latin music with elegant body shapes and poses to create choreography. 

Body movement for Latin dance is a mixture of Cuban motion with hips, shifting of the knees, and upper body isolations.

Body Movement for Standard Dance

For standard dances, Your body must move in contra body movement (CBM) and foot gliding.

Contra body movement is the turning of the body (hips and shoulders) against the movement of the legs: either moving forward with the right foot and the left hip and shoulder or vice versa.

Music and Timing

Latin dances have very different music and timing.

Standard 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.

Latin dance and standard dance Both styles have different steps and techniques

Both Latin dance and standard dance have different steps and techniques. However, they are both a lot of fun when you get the hang of it!

It can be difficult to know which style to choose for your first dance

If you are unsure about the different styles, we recommend starting with Standard dance to become familiar with the movement and how it feels. You can then try Latin when you’re ready!

You can check this blog post for more information on learning ballroom dance.

If you’re not sure, ask your instructor for advice

Before you take any dance classes, it’s important to first consult with your dance instructor and get their professional advice.

Different dance instructors may specialize in different types of dances, so it’s crucial that you get personalized advice depending on your individual goals and interests.

That being said, most dance instructors will generally recommend starting with the basics – like Waltz or Rumba – before branching out into more specialized styles of dance. So if you’re unsure about which type of dance to take first, it’s best to ask your instructor for their expert opinion.



Which of the two genres of dance is used in competitions most often?

The type of dance that is most commonly used in competitions is Standard Dance and Latin Dance.

What kind of music does Latin dancing use?

Latin music uses up-tempo beats, such as salsa, merengue, samba, and rumba.

Is it easier to learn standard or Latin ballroom first?

We recommend starting with Standard dance to become familiar with the movement and how it feels. You can then try Latin when you’re ready!

Do I have to be flexible for Latin?

You don’t need flexibility if you’re taking Latin dance in the beginning because you going to learn basic moves, but once you move to a more advanced level you will need to be more flexible.

In what type of venue(s) could I practice each kind of dance while dancing socially (halls, nightclubs)?

For social dancing, I recommend going to the dance studio’s practice parties because there are instructors available to help you.

Should I learn both types, or just one? If just one, which one would you recommend?

Both Latin Dance and Standard dance are fun! So it’s really up to you which style(s) of dance you want to pursue. It all depends on your personal interests and what your instructor recommends.


Often, people choose standard ballroom because of its simplicity. If you’re new to dance or want a more traditional style then it might be the right choice for you. But if your goal is mastering Latin moves and becoming an expert dancer in this genre, then Latin may be the way to go!

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