Where To Dance

as of Dec 20, 2015

I get asked all the time: "Where do you go dancing?" So I've compiled a list of locations and venues by type. I live in Southern California, so most of the venues are based in L.A. County or Orange County. However, I have traveled a bit, so eventually I will add other venues from other counties/states/countries, as well as links to other websites that go into greater details of what is out there.

Generally speaking, most of the venues will have some sort of lesson available before the main dancing starts. It's best to check each venue ahead of time to confirm that's the case.

Please let me know if you would like me to add a venue or event to the list, or if there are any broken links/changes to a particular venue. You can do so through my Contact page.

Click on the icon to reveal the venues associated with the styles.

Swing Dancing

Swing dancing and its many variations, including East Coast Swing, Lindy Hop, Jitterbug, Balboa, Shag, Charleston, etc.) originated in America in the 1930s and became popular world-wide during the 1940s due to WWII and the American GIs traveling all over the world and bringing it with them. In Los Angeles, it experienced a Renaissance at a (now defunct) venue called "The Derby", which surged in popularity after the movie "Swingers" was shown in theaters. From there the rebirth of swing crossed all borders and is still an international phenomenon with venues and special events taking place on nearly every continent. One variation of swing dancing called West Coast Swing has evolved into it's own style and has a separate entry here.

There is already a great calendar that is updated regularly covering events in LA/OC/San Bernadino: Swing Dance L.A.

West Coast Swing (WCS)

West Coast Swing has it's roots in Lindy Hop, but has evolved into its own style. It tends to be danced in a slot in a 4/4 rhythm without syncopated beats. Music tends to be modern, and styling tends to be more smooth and upright vs. low and bouncey in traditional swing a.k.a. East Coast Swing dancing.

Salsa / Latin

Salsa is a social dance with Latin roots from NewYork, Puerto Rico, Cuba, and Colombia. Sometimes a Salsa dance will include other Latin social dance styles such as Cha-cha, Mabmo, Rhumba, Merengue, Bachata, etc. It will depend on the venue. The ones listed below are some of the most well known venues. If you want to really tap into all your salsa options (in L.A., O.C., and elsewhere), then I would check out Salsa Hook.com.

Argentine Tango

Argentine tango originated in Buenos Aires towards the end of the 19th century. Unlike many social dances, the rhthym and tempo of the dance can change dramatically and rapidly. It is a very intense, emotional dance, and in my personal opinion probably the most difficult of all the social dances to learn. But if you learn it... woah Nelly! The social dances are called "Milongas".

Victorian / Masquerade Balls

Victorian Ballroom dancing is like traveling into time or walking onto the set of a movie. Imagine everyone dressed up in 1800s formal wear, waltzing, doing the polka, as well as pattern dancing.

Often events will change venues, so the listings are organized by where the group sponsoring the events are based, rather than specific venues. It's best to look at each group's website for details.

If you want a broader view on these kinds of dances, as well as other eras like jazz, ragtime, and some other swing events, I highly recommend visiting Mass Historia's Calendar page

Blues Dancing

Blues dancing dates as far back as blues music and grew in parallel with swing dancing. It has its own set of variations for different tempos and like other social dance forms it has evolved over the years. It has especially taken off over the last decade with national and international blues dancing events popping up. Although there are many various forms of blues music, they still tend to conform within a particular type of musical / lyrical structure.

"Turquoise" is slang for music that feels like Blues music, you can dance to it with Blues dancing technique / styling, but technically isn't Blues. Some Blues venues tend to focus on strictly blues music, some allow for some turquoise, others allow blend it all together with fusion dance music (see next section).

The venues listed below are dancer-oriented. If you are interested in just going to local blues clubs to listen to live blues music (which may or may not have a dance floor), I would start here: Mary4Music.com. If you come across something good, let me know about it and I'll add it to the list!

Fusion Dancing

Fusion dancing comes in two flavors: true fusion and lyrical (sometimes called Cascadian free-style).

Lyrical free-style doesn't have a tradition or structure. It's pretty much do whatever feels right.

True fusion is the art of combining, shifting, and mixing/matching dance forms you are already familiar with in new combinations to the music. For instance, switching from Blues to West-coast to Tango and back to Blues again, all within the same song. Pretty much any social dancing style that you have learned can be applied. Musically, most fusion events will have alternative modern music with maybe a smattering of Blues, Tango, Westcoast, etc. Depending on the DJ, you might hear electronica, eclictic pop, or ballad anthems.