There are 4 social dance types:
Literal (informal) – dances that are played as written, e.g. ballroom , samba .
, . Formal (mixed) – dances in which the music and action are done by the dancing group, e.g. ballroom .
. Unwritten (festival) – dances where the music and the act are performed live.
These 4 types are not very common in the United States. However there are many people who enjoy social dance. I think many people do enjoy playing live music. A recent survey on music culture found that a significant percentage of American adults enjoy listening to their favorite tunes on the go (even if they aren’t playing them live).
One advantage of dancing as music is that you have the chance to improvise. You can play with or learn from the music in a more fluid way. You can change your moves to fit the music and the action. There is an increasing emphasis on improvisation in popular culture. (See here and here for many examples and information.)
Some people have an affinity with these types of dance. Some others may enjoy the music but not the dance itself. Whatever your style, it is a fun way to socialize.
Why do I dance to live music?
There are a few reasons people often prefer to play music at social dances:
When we play music, the focus of our social lives is no longer on meeting other people. It is to build group relationships among friends. Our goal is to develop emotional connections with our friends. While we can be social and expressive, we are not emotionally expressive nor should we be at social dances. We have to learn and practice how to dance in this new style of dance.
What are my options?
If you are a beginner, there are many ways you could find a dance. If you want to learn this dance, and you only have time for 1-2 dances, start with one of the following:
Traditional – This form is most commonly used in Latin music. While it is a popular form, it is by no means the only one out there. The forms we list below are not meant to indicate how all traditional dances should be danced. You may still find other forms of dance appealing, particularly in a different style such as Latin. If you have no time, consider learning from a dance coach or other type of professional or social dance teacher.