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Sapphire FAQs

General FAQs

Dance Party FAQs


What should I wear?

Come as you are. There are no special clothes for learning to ballroom dance; wear your work clothes or wear your sweats, just be comfortable. However, this is a contact sport. So we all appreciate good hygiene: pop a mint, check the underarms, wash your hands, and, if you sweat a lot, bring a towel and maybe an extra shirt.

Do I need special shoes for class?

There are shoes specially designed for ballroom dancing. They have:

  1. Thin, flexible soles allowing your feet to bend freely and for you to feel the floor underneath you
  2. Either heel strap, laces, or ankle strap preventing the shoe from coming off
  3. Suede bottoms allowing the foot to slide on the floor (for easier turns) & just enough traction to prevent slipping and falling

However, if you are new to dancing, this is may not be a purchase you want to make right away. Street shoes that mimic these characteristics as much as possible will be best for your learning process. Avoid flip flops or slides that force your toes to grip the shoes to your feet; also avoid thick platforms or heavy tread that make your feet clunky.

How long does it take to be a good dancer?

That depends. No, really, it does. It depends on how much time you have to devote to practice and lessons, and it depends on how you define "good."

Learning to dance is much like learning a new language, except in dancing you use your mind and body. To learn a new language, you start with some vocabulary words, practice the pronunciation, learn how to put together simple sentences, and of course learn your numbers. In dancing, you start with a few basic steps, learn how to do it comfortably, and put the steps together to music which requires knowing how to count it. And just like learning the language, this level may help you survive a one-time event, but soon all will be forgotten. . . unless we practice, and continue learning.

That's why people have always tried to make learning a language fun by bringing people together with games or round tables of discussion allowing native speakers to help new learners. Dancing is naturally fun to practice because it already brings people together!

Want some hard fast numbers? Couples getting ready for their wedding and first dance can usually accomplish what they want in 6-8 private lessons, sometimes as few as 4 private lessons for bare bones survival.

What if I have no rhythm?

Most people really do have some sense of rhythm and don't know it. In this case, it's as simple as showing you how to listen to the music, and then practice. But even if it's not already hidden in you, rhythm can be learned!

What if I have two left feet?

If you have never danced before, and most of your physical activities have always involved daily-used movements (i.e. walking, running) then it may seem like you have 2 left feet.

This feeling however, really says nothing about your agility or physical dexterity. This is partly because you are asking your body to do things it's never done before, and partly because learning to dance requires mental activity too. This makes it that much more healthy for you too! Keep trying, and you'll reap the rewards.

I don't have a partner. How can I learn to dance?

No partner is required for any of the group classes. Yes, sometimes we get more leaders that followers, and sometimes more followers that leaders. We simply rotate partners, and everyone gets chance to learn and dance. Also, you can take private lessons by yourself. Your instructor will be your partner.

Where can I buy music (so I can practice at home)?

You can search on-line and find some good music, just be prepared to pay $20-29 for a CD or 2-CD set. Never buy so-called "dance music" without being able to listen to a sampling of the songs first. (Often, CDs marked as such are highly synthesized music-not enjoyable listening.)

Some music stores and many on-line stores provide a sample listening service. We plan to offer dance CDs for sale sometime in the future too; that way you can get recommendation directly from your instructor.

How do I schedule private lessons? What hours are available?

Simply contact the studio when you are ready to start (382-8782, info@sapphiredance.com). All private lessons are by appointment. Depending on the season and instructor availability, times are available during the day as early as 9 a.m., in the evenings as late as 10 p.m. weekdays or weekends too.

Private lessons are 50 minutes in length, scheduled 1 per hour.

More details on private lessons.

What if we bring a 3rd person or another couple to our private lessons?

You are welcome to organize a small group of people for semi-private lessons. Private lesson pricing is valid for 1-2 people, beyond that the total hourly cost increases slightly. However, if you are splitting the cost, then the 'per person' hourly cost actually goes down. Contact the studio for details (382-8782, info@sapphiredance.com).

More details on private lessons.

What are benefits of group versus private lessons?

We always encourage people to participate in a mix of both. Group classes provide a social atmosphere that allows you to change partners and prepare for the party atmosphere. (See 'Do I have to change partners?' to find out why this helps you learn.) They also provide a cost effective way to learn steps. Private lessons can be used to learn steps too, but are especially beneficial for working on the finer details and technique.

In private lessons, your instructor can give the individual attention necessary to answer more personal questions:

How do I get my body to move like that?
How can I tell when my partner is leading this move?
How do I lead my partner in this move?
How can I make it more fun to dance with me?
When the music comes on, how do I know what dance to do?

Based on your schedule, budget and desired level, your instructor can help make suggestions on how to achieve a good mix of groups and privates.

Do I have to change partners in group class?

We highly encourage you to change partners. It is an excellent tool for learning to dance. When dancing with your significant other, we tend to get lazy. Yes, it's true. The follower is more likely to back lead without realizing it, and the leader is more likely to let her, thus never learning to lead. Also, believe it or not, we tend to have less patience with those that are closest to us. So let your partner mess up with everyone else. When you get back together, you'll both have an idea of what the move is supposed to feel like.

We do, however, understand that sometimes dance class is part of a couple's limited time together or it serves as date night…and that's a good thing. Therefore, no one is going to make you change partners. The instructor will usually give directions to the class on how to change partners, and what to do if a couple chooses not to do so.

Also, just because you change partners one week, doesn't mean you are obligated to do it every week.

Do I need to register for group classes ahead of time?

Though it's so easy to forget, and so tempting to show up at the first night of class, please do register beforehand. Play it safe, and register 3-7 days before the class starts.

When less than 6 people sign-up, the class can get canceled. Your early registration can encourage others to sign-up too, and prevent cancellation.

The instructor will often be there and ready to hold class, even if too few people are registered. Many times several people show up to make a class, which is great…but unfortunately we've seen others miss such opportunities to dance by assuming the class was already canceled.

Then there is the other extreme. We don't want to have to turn you away at the door because the class is full. The official cut-off is 20 people, but we allow some flex. We will not let our classes get any larger than 24 people. (Cheaper-Than-A-Movie Beginner Dance Workshops, lessons prior to Saturdays at Sapphire social dances and Special Event Workshops are the exception.)
Note: If a 4-session group class has 16 or more people registered, everyone receives a FREE admission to a Saturday at Sapphire Social Dance.

The last reason to register is related to the "No Partner Required" policy. The only drawback of the policy is that an occasional class will be unbalanced in terms of leaders or followers. Knowing the ratio ahead of time can help the instructor recruit more people to balance out the class.

So, registering early, though not always required, is beneficial for everyone.

Where do I go?

All private lessons are held at the Sapphire Ballroom & Dance Center, while group classes are held at various locations. Currently these include the Blacksburg Community Center and the Radford Recreation Center. (See 'Location Information' for details.)

Will I ever be "that good"?

What's the main thing that 'good dancers' have that you don't? They've got the fever and they've been practicing! It takes time; just keep working at it and you'll get there…if you want it.

Ballroom dancing is wonderful because you can take it as far as you want. Your goal can be to just get-by at holiday parties or weddings. Your goal can be to achieve amateur titles at competition. You are probably somewhere in between, but whatever your goals may be, you can have fun with ballroom dance!

How can I stay informed about dance events and lesson opportunities?

Drop us an e-mail at info@sapphiredance.com. We'll add you to the distribution list to find out about dances, group classes and other dance opportunities. Most of the time the e-mails will be organized so you can go directly to the info you want, often directing you to more information on the website…so don't worry about having to fish through endless amounts of information. And, at any time you can ask to be removed from the list. In fact, we ask that you let us know when you have changed e-mail address or moved out of the area.


Dance Party FAQs

Should I come to the pre-dance lesson if I'm new to dancing?

Sure, all levels are welcome. The lesson (7:30-8:30pm) before 4th (and some 2nd) Saturday dances usually covers 1 dance, and starts with the basic step. Just be prepared for the lesson to be fast paced in order for the more intermediate dancers to learn something too. As a new dancer, if you walk away with two basic steps, you've done well.

Pre-Dance lessons on "Welcome Party " nights are geared much more toward those just getting started. Look for these events on the Events page.

Coming to the pre-dance lesson is also a great way to meet people who could be potential partners without having to ask someone "out of the blue." Once you have danced with someone during the lesson, they are more likely to ask you to dance later in the evening, and they are easier to approach if you have questions.

What kind of music will be played?

We play a wide variety of music from pop standards to disco, big band to funk, country to pop rock, new age to oldies and everything in between. You'll see people dancing Waltz, Hustle, Fox Trot, Swing, Cha Cha, Rumba, Merengue, Salsa, Mambo, Viennese Waltz, Samba, Bolero, Country Two-Step, and more!

What should I wear to a dance?

Attire to most of the social dances is dressy casual. This basically means everything from business casual to club/party dress. You are unlikely to see jeans, tennis shoes, or T-shirts.

Some dances have themes (i.e. Sock Hop, Costume Ball, Boot Scootin' Country Night, Disco Fever, Latin Heat etc.) and appropriate attire fitting these themes are always encouraged but not required. Plus, for our Snowflake Ball on 2nd Saturday of December, Semi-Formal is encouraged but not required, and the Lovers Ball is Semi-Formal or better.

What kinds of shoes are good for a dance?

We do ask that you consider whether your shoes leave scuff marks, which are time consuming to clean. When we hit capacity and open up 'The Dance Place' side, we also ask that you not wear shoes that may scratch or dent our neighbor's vinyl floor. Otherwise, defer to 'Do I need special shoes for class?' for more details.

Are singles welcome?

Most definitely. There are a good mix of both singles and couples that attend our dances, most of whom enjoy dancing with lots of different people. Don't be bashful; ask someone you don't know if they would like to dance. You will also find a wide variety of age groups from 10-90. So not only can everyone feel comfortable, you get to meet a lot of cool people too.

Should I bring anything to the dances?

Bring food to share at our dances is not a necessity, but greatly appreciated. Besides you get a chance to win free stuff. Your name is entered into a door prize drawing if you bring a snack to share. Volunteer online here or contact the studio (382-8782, info@sapphiredance.com) by 5pm the day before a dance, and your name is entered twice!

The door prize can be anything from a hand-crafted shoe bag, private lesson, 6-pack of admissions to the Cheaper-Than-A-Movie workshops…the options are many.

How do I ask someone to dance? What is the etiquette?

Simply say, "Would you like to dance?" Or, you could start (for example), "Do you know the Waltz?" If the response is "yes," then ask the person to dance. I know it's hard, but the more you do it, the easier it gets. You are only asking the person for 2½ minutes of their life!

Both men and ladies should feel free to ask for a dance. Men, however, should be prepared to do most of the asking - it's ingrained in our culture!

Also for men: if you don't identify what dance you plan to lead, be prepared for the follower to ask. She might feel uncomfortable trying to follow something she's never danced before.

After the song is over, thank your partner, and exit the floor. Take the First & Final Flourishes class to learn for details and practice how to do this... it's an extremely useful class.

If the next song comes on before you exit, and both partners want to dance. Feel free to ask your partner for another dance. Watch out though: etiquette says dance no more than two dances in a row with one partner. We tend to bend this rule a little for married couples.

What other kinds of dance parties do you offer?

We have hosted or have scheduled the following dances:

  • Welcome Parties (strictly beginners' lesson and then open dancing, dance games, mixers and door prizes.)
  • Kick the Winter Blues (Wear blue or denim, and enjoy a small emphasis on rhythm and blues music.)
  • Latin Heat Night (Mostly Salsa and Merengue, with large mix of Cha Cha, Rumba, Samba, Bolero, and small mix of Waltz, Fox Trot, Tango, Swing, Hustle, etc.)
  • Country Western Dance (Mix of Two-Steps, Waltz, Cha Cha, Night Club Two-Step, East Coast Swing, West Coast Swing & Polka all to country music.)
  • Disco Fever (Variety of music with emphasis on disco and lesson on Hustle)
  • Semi-Formal Events (Snowflake Ball in December)
  • Dual Dance Floor (Hosting larger groups by opening 2 dance floors, each side playing different styles of music)
  • Charity Fundraisers

Other ideas for events include the following:

  • Practice Party (Extremely casual general dance on a weeknight with little or no refreshments…purely as an extra chance to practice and have fun!)
  • Swing Night (Mix of East Coast, Lindy Hop, West Coast, Hustle etc.)
  • Carolina Shag (Mix of beach, rhythm & blues, etc. all good for shagging)
  • High School Dance (General Dance to get more teenagers dancing.)

Please let us know which options most interest you.

 

     
540-382-8782 - info@sapphiredance.com