(Photo Art of Emotion’s “Best Dance Ever” 2013, see below)
Types of Wedding Dance Styles
There are many different types of wedding dance styles for a couple’s first dance or for the father-daughter, mother-son or the wedding party dancing. Some choose a romantic, slow song, others opt for a spirited, energetic song or a mash up (mix) starting slow and romantic then breaking into a fast dance or freestyle.
We chose the best wedding first dance routines from the web with dance styles including traditional music like waltz, slow dance or foxtrot to the swing, Lindy hop or jitterbug, as well as, Latin selections like rumba, mambo, salsa and some mash up routines.
Watch/listen to Best 25 First Dance Wedding Songs
Waltz Wedding Dance Style (classic, fast)
(Unknown song – Viennese Waltz style)
The Waltz dance is a great choice for a wedding first dance. It is a 3/4 time rhythm, which differentiates it from other four beat rhythms. It is a smooth, fluid dance that normally moves around the floor in a counter clockwise direction. There is an additional rhythm called the Hesitation that is used in combination with three count or six count patterns in the waltz. There are a variety of waltz dance variations including: American Waltz, International, Country Western, Cajun, French and Viennese waltz and there are classic versions and contemporary versions of waltz.
Waltz Wedding Dance Style (Contemporary, fast)
A Thousand Years by Christina Perri (Fast Waltz)
The waltz is composed of box steps and turning patterns that rotate both clockwise and counterclockwise. The waltz started in the mid-nineteenth century and was considered scandalous because of the facing embrace, in its day. The first waltzes were danced to Strauss music, which were fast, referred to as Viennese waltz (tempo) today. Read more about the different types of waltz styles here!
Slow Wedding Dance Style
Thinking Outloud by Ed Sheeran (a slow dance)
Slow Dance (or Nightclub Two Step)
The slow dance (or nighclub two step) are very popular dance genres for wedding first dance since they are slow and romantic. There is music which does not fit into any of the ballroom slow dances: waltz, foxtrot and rumba. These songs are slower than the tempos for the ballroom dance genres. Choosing one of these types of songs means dancing either a traditional slow dance, which includes side steps and pivots or one might choose a Nightclub Two Step depending on the music.
Nightclub Two Step was developed by a Buddy Schwimmer, a dance studio owner, dancer, promoter that was part of the Golden State Teachers Association in Southern California. The nightclub two step has evolved over the years and can be done starting with a rock step on counts 1&, followed by a side step on count 2 or some start with the side step on count one. A slow dance or nightclub two step is a great choice for a sensual, slow wedding first dance.
Foxtrot Wedding Dance Style
Love by Michael Buble
The Foxtrot dance is a smooth, progressive dance that moves around the dance floor to a 4-beat rhythm with a combination of 6 or 8 beat patterns. It is an elegant dance genre that is perfect for a larger dance floor and a smooth medium tempo music especially big band style music or some of the contemporary artists like Michael Buble.
The foxtrot dance developed in the early part of the 20th century from other dance genres and popularized by Vernon and Irene Castle. The foxtrot has continued in its popularity among both social ballroom dancers and dancesport enthusiasts.
Swing Wedding Dance Style (Jitterbug, Lindy Hop)
Sing Sing Sing by Louis Prima (Swing dancing)
Swing dance is a term used to refer to a group of dances that includes the jitterbug, jive, boogie woogie, shag, Lindy hop, Balboa, West and East Coast swing. This is a fantastic choice for a wedding first dance if you are looking for an energetic dance genre.
Swing Wedding Dance Style (Shag)
Stagger Lee by Lloyd Price (Swing dance)
Swing dancing is all American as the swing originated in the United States, in Harlem at the Savoy Ballroom in the 1920’s following the Charleston and in conjunction with the Balboa and other swing forms like the origin swing dance, the Lindy Hop.
Jitterbug Wedding Dance Style
Sing Sing Sing by Benny Goodman (Jitterbug)
Swing Wedding Dance style (Mix)
Swing music “Fly Me To the Moon” by London Swingfonia
Rumba Wedding Dance Style
Sway by Michael Buble
The rumba dance (also Rhumba) is danced to Latin music that has is fluid and varies but averages about 140 beats per minute. It is rhythmic, sensual and romantic so it is a great choice for a wedding first dance. Also, the American style box rumba is slower and easier than other forms of Latin dance like mambo, salsa and cha cha. The rumba is easy to learn as it is composed of a box step and a variety of break steps (rock steps).
The history of the rumba dance is elusive since it derives from a group of other dances that originated in different countries. The term “Rumba” (also Rhumba) is used to refer to a group of rhythmic dances of Spanish and African roots that originated in Cuba. The American ballroom rumba developed from some of these early Cuban “son” dances in the early 20th century. The word used to mean “party” but later in the 1920’s and 1930’s came to refer to a dance genre. The early ballroom rumba was done to faster music, e.g. Peanut Vendor but later the International style Latin dancers danced to slower “bolero” son music.
Mambo Wedding Dance style
Mambo (or Salsa)
The mambo dance is a fast, energetic Latin style dance. Wedding couples choose this dance often because of the movie, Dirty Dancing, and the mambo that Patrick Swayze danced with Jennifer Grey in the movie to the song, “I’ve Had the Time of My Life,” by Bill Medley & Jennifer Warnes. The mambo dance uses a faster tempo Latin music and is more staccato than the salsa. It is a more complex dance than the rumba and requires more time to become an accomplished mambo dancer.
The mambo dance originated in the 1940’s and was popular in Cuba, Mexico City and New York but eventually spread across the globe and was popular for several decades until it evolved into the salsa in the mid-1970’s. It is still danced today especially in American rhythm competitions.
The salsa dance is a rhythmic Latin dance that has continued in popularity since the 1970’s. Choosing a salsa song to dance as a wedding first dance is an exciting option. This dance is sensual, fast paced and rhythmic. It requires more time to learn than a rumba or basic swing dance.
The salsa dance originated in New York with influence from Cuba and Puerto Rico. It is derived from cha cha and mambo. There are unique styles of salsa in different regions of the world including: Cuban, Miami, Colombian, Los Angeles and New York.
Watch and read more about the salsa dance here.
Mashup Wedding Dance style
Love Never Fails by Brandon Heath (Slow, Freestyle, Swing)
Wedding Mixed Songs Mashup Style
Unchained Melody by Air Supply
Wedding Dance Mash Up Style
More Wedding First Dance Information:
- Watch/Listen to Top 25 First Dance Wedding Songs
- Watch/Listen to Best 25 Father Daughter Dance Songs
- Watch/Read Complete Guide to Wedding Dance Lessons
- Watch some Wedding Dance Fails (humor)
- Read more about the Wedding Dance
- Additional Wedding Dance FAQ’s
(Photo from Wedding First Dance of Ania & Piotr, Poland, YouTube)