Prom Tips: The Basics Of How To Dance For Those Who Haven't Learned

A prom can be a nerve-racking event, but so long as you keep a few simple things in mind, the dancing portion can be easy.

Despite the flurry of excitement and activity that surrounds a high school prom, the bulk of the class is probably very nervous about the entire event: the clothing, the dates, and, of course, the dancing.

Unlike generations past, teenagers today aren't sent to finishing schools, etiquette classes, or dance lessons. If you are nervous about dancing at your prom, having been forced to take a fox trot lesson or two may not sound too terrible. Today's proms, however, require no knowledge of formal steps or dance routines - everyone moves to the music as the impulse strikes them. Dancing is similar to singing alone in your car or bedroom: you don't think about how you are about to do it, you just start.

Two types of dancing prevail anywhere you go, fast dancing and slow dancing. Below are a few tips for each.

Fast dancing:

1. Move to the beat. Every song has a beat that stays the same throughout, no matter how the lyrics or melody are changing. Make sure you can find the beat of a song and keep it for a bit. Now, move to it. Do one thing to the beat, whether it is shrugging your shoulders or bending your knees. Just do it to the beat, and keep doing it. So long as you are moving just a little, you are fast dancing at the most basic level.

2. You're moving to the beat, and as you look around at your friends, you notice that they are doing something a little different, or that they add a move or two. Find a move that you like, putting your hand in the air, or nodding your head - and try it yourself. You only have to do it for a few beats, and then you can resume the one move you already perfected.

3. Find someone else to dance with. This person doesn't need to be your date or even a particular sex. Find someone who seems to like the song about the same amount and way you do, and sort of mimic each other's moves a bit. If you don't like the song, you can roll your eyes together, or if you love the song, you can lip-sync passionately into the same imaginary microphone.

4. Sing a line or two. Most songs have one or two signature lines that everyone knows and waits for. At that moment, the dance floor may even belt the line out together, and some DJs even anticipate this moment and turn the music down so you can hear your entire school harmonize. Get ready for these moments, and yell out the line along with everyone else. Or, on the not-so-well-known parts of the song, you can just mouth the words as you move to the beat. Then, it looks like you are into the music without going too crazy.

5. If you have absolutely no idea what your prom will be like, rent a few teen movies a week before. On average, at least two young-adult, dancing-centric movies are released each year. But remember, you are watching a movie and not real life, so the movie can only give you an idea of what your prom will be like, not the actuality.

Slow dancing:

1. Let the person who initiated the dance lead. He or she will have a good idea of where they want the hands and arms to go. If you asked your partner to dance, the most common slow dance position is the girl to have her hands on the guy's shoulders, and the guy to put his hands lightly on the girl's waist.

2. Find the beat, again. Even slow songs have a beat, it's just (as you guessed) slower. Once you found the beat, rock back and forth to it. It may be harder with two people, but luckily, it is less important to get the beat right when slow dancing.

3. Turn in a very slow circle. Slow dancing can be awkward if you are nervous around your partner, so if you gently and slowly rotate around, it will give you both something to look at while the song is playing. It also makes it look like you are dancing, instead of rocking back and forth (which is all slow dancing is at a prom anyway).

4. Talk to your partner. A slow song is an opportunity to talk to the person with whom you are dancing because the music is less intense. If you feel like you need to distract your partner from your dancing, you are in a perfect position to begin talking into his or her ear. Most people will automatically cease dancing a bit when someone begins speaking in their ear.

5. Be a little silly. If the monotony of the slow dance is making you sweat, twirl your partner around (works for guys and girls), pretend to tango, or do a dip. It may seem odd to suggest more complicated dancing if you are nervous to begin with, but the key is to be silly and to have fun! The point is that you are already making an effort to laugh at yourself, so the dancing doesn't have to perfect or even look good.

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