What Dance Style Is Best for Your First Spin with Your Spouse?

Discover what dance style might be the best fit for you and your new spouse during your reception.

Engaged couples spend a good amount of time selecting their first dance song, but have you ever consider the dance style you’d like to perform for this very special moment?

Photo: Michael Carr Photography

Engaged couples spend a good amount of time selecting their first dance song, but have you ever consider the dance style you’d like to perform for this very special moment? Below, we’ve listed some of the most popular dances to help you decide.

The Sway
This is the typical, go-to move for those couples looking to spend little to no time preparing for their first dance and focus energy on other aspects of wedding planning. Think of this as the “slow dance” you know from high school – a simple sway back and forth with arms wrapped around one another. It can be performed to a variety of slower songs chosen for their personal meaning. This allows for light, sentimental chatting between the pair, and a chance to relax the mind after your “I dos.”

The Slow Dance (or Nightclub Two Step)

This is a more formal version of “the sway,” as it includes a certain “hold” – right hands held together and left hands placed on either the shoulder/upper back or the waist – side steps on particular counts with the music, and some pivots. It requires a touch more preparation than “the sway” in order to make sure you and your love are in agreement with certain moves, and the song choice will be similar to that of “the sway” as well. Adding in some slow spins, dips, and lifts is a popular way to customize this form.

The Classic Waltz

Contrary to popular belief, a Waltz dance is slightly faster than a traditional slow dance. There are a few different forms of a Waltz, including American, International, Country Western, Cajun, French, and Viennese. This style will require a bit of choreography – either by the couple or by a professional – as there are specific moves that make it into a Waltz: it involves a set of box steps and turning patterns. Song selection will likely be drawn from a sweet, modern ballad. 

The Swing

A variety of different styles fall under this category, including the Lindy hop, jitterbug, jive, boogie, East Coast, and West Coast swing. If you’re looking into this dance, be wary of your attire – it’s quite fast-paced with more than a few lifts, fast turns, and leg kicks. It’s a fun, lively way to kick off your marriage – especially if you have a flair for vintage details. We recommend a professional choreographer! Ladies might consider changing out of their wedding gown and into a shorter, flowy dress with dance shorts underneath and comfortable shoes. Gentlemen should be wary of their shoes and take the time to remove a tighter suit jacket.

The Foxtrot

Lying somewhere between a Waltz and a swing dance, this style is fantastic for a pair with access to an instructor and a desire to incorporate a tune with a medium tempo and playful dance moves. In fact, a wide variety of classic and contemporary songs would work well with this form. As with swing dancing and the Waltz, the moves can get complicated, so we recommend taking a class on the subject. The best news? Most modern wedding outfits will do nicely for a Foxtrot.

The Rumba

This Latin dance is excellent for a couple looking to evoke a sensual vibe from their first dance. It requires a lot of hip work and fluidity from both partners, but it’s much easier to learn than other Latin styles, such as the salsa and mambo, but will definitely require some practice before the big day. There is a smaller selection of melodies available that will fit this form, but they’re easy to find and very enjoyable for the dancers and on-lookers alike. Shoes may need to be changed, and ladies may want to check out how their dress handles hip movement and turns before she takes the floor.

Mambo & Salsa Dance

Though technically different, the salsa and mambo share a few key characteristics. Both are more fast-paced than the rumba and incorporate some complicated steps. The mambo is a touch more staccato while a salsa is fluid and rhythmic. If you want to bring a certain sensual, but up-tempo, flair to your first dance, either of these styles is an excellent choice. Select a song that reflects the style: it doesn’t necessarily have to be Latin in origin, but those are always excellent tunes for this form. Work with a professional to make this dance all it can be, and note that a costume change into more dance-friendly clothing will likely be a requirement. Note: a tango dance might also be an option, though it is a touch more sexual and serious than these two options and may not go over well as a wedding dance.

Hip-Hop Dance

Dance starts at 2:00 mark. If you and your beloved are more inclined toward modern music than the classics and you’re looking to get the party going right off the bat, a hip hop dance number would do the trick. As a popular dance style of only the last few decades, there are many different moves from hit songs to choose from. Depending on your dedication, a change of attire may be necessary to get into the moves. The key to hip hop is fun and you won’t need a choreographer to make up your routine – typically, you can form one out of the moves you already know. Most modern hip-hop, rap, or R&B songs will create the perfect atmosphere for your dance. It makes a great transition into the celebration. 

Free-Form or a Mash-Up

If you’re looking to include a variety of different songs or dance moves, the possibilities are endless. You can pick and choose your favorite dances and pair them with different tunes to expertly match your personal style. No need to hire a professional – unless you’d like to – you and your love can coordinate the routine yourselves. This style’s appeal is customization: decide if you’ll do a quick change, who you’d like involved, and in what order your moves take place.

Flash Mob

As a phenomenon only prevalent in the last decade or so, a “flash mob” first dance requires the participation of other individuals as well as your partner. If you’re unfamiliar, a “flash mob” is a choreographed dance that begins with only a few people, and overtime, more and more gradually add in. By the end of the song, a whole mess of loved ones are doing the moves. Traditionally, these are used in public as a surprise to passer-bys, but your guests will be just as stunned as your routine grows with the addition of bridal party members, friends, and family. Add your own personal touch, spotlight certain members, have sections of song wherein just part of the group dances, and more. Similar to a mash-up, any song selection or dance style will do, but it requires will participation from others and far more preparation than the other forms!