The Ballroom
Directed by John Ross
977 Golf Course Drive
Rohnert Park, CA 94928
707-586-1136
The Ballroom ~ Directed By John Ross ~ (707) 586-1136
977 Golf Course Drive, Rohnert Park, California 94928
Swing, Latin, Ballroom, Nightclub & Wedding dance lessons in Rohnert Park, California ~ Serving Santa Rosa, Rohnert Park, Petaluma and all of Sonoma, Marin, Napa, and Lake Counties
About Us

Frequently Asked Questions

Have a question not answered here? Contact us!

About Us

Where are you located? What kind of parking is available?

We are in northern Rohnert Park, on the east side of the golf course. You can find us inside the Mountain Shadows Plaza shopping center, which has plenty of free parking. Please see our map and directions page for complete turn-by-turn directions, and interactive overview maps.

What days do you teach?

We offer group classes and private lessons on Mondays through Thursdays, plus some Fridays and Saturdays. ~ Additional details

What hours are you open?

Our hours vary by day, but we are typically open most weekday mid-to-late afternoons and evenings. If you plan on dropping by it's best to call in advance to coordinate your visit around private lessons and group classes.

If you just need to drop something off for us, such as a class registration, you can use the mail slot next to the front door if we're closed when you arrive.

Do I Need To Sign A Contract? Are There Any Membership Fees?

We do have certain policies that students must agree to regarding enrollment and participation in group classes, but there are no contracts to sign and no membership fees.

Group classes are paid for at the start of each session, with quantity discounts available when enrolling in multiple classes during the same session.

Private lessons can be paid for one-at-a-time as they are scheduled, and quantity discounts are available when purchasing a group of private lessons all at once. For students participating in regular ongoing private lessons, and/or purchasing lesson packages, we do have an agreement we ask you to sign which details our cancellation policies, late-arrival policies, and the timeframe within which lesson packages must be used.

General Questions

What is the fastest way to learn to dance?

While we get this question quite frequently — everyone is different. The best way to answer this is for you to talk with one of the teachers at The Ballroom so that they can help you develop a plan that best fits your specific situation. Our New Student Special is a great way to accomplish this for potential students who've not previously taken classes or lessons with us.

As with anything, the more you put into it the more you will generally get out of it. A combination of Group Classes and Private Lessons can help you build a solid foundation for your dancing life. And our weekend dances offer a great way for you to practice what you learn, in a safe and supportive atmosphere, which not only helps you improve your dance skills, but it will also help you gain confidence in the skills you are building.

Am I too old to learn to dance?

Absolutely not! We have many long-time students who delayed the start of their dancing lives until well into their 50s, 60s, or 70s.

I am a complete beginner, can I still do this? / I have never been a good dancer. Is there any hope for me?

Yes, you can! / Yes there is!

Everyone starts off awkward and uncomfortable: even people who have dance skills. Fear is usually your biggest hurdle. But think about other things you have learned in your life — which you never thought you could do — yet you did. Dance is like any skill: "Practice makes possible." We have helped hundreds of fearful, uncoordinated men and women become skilled dancers over time!

What kind of dances do you teach? Can I learn whatever dance I want?

We teach a wide array of Ballroom, Latin, Swing, Nightclub, Country, and other types of dances — any or all of which you can learn in group classes and/or private lessons with us. Please see our Dances We Teach pages to learn more about the possibilities open to you when you join us at The Ballroom.

Can I dance with someone the same gender?

Yes, you can. All singles and couples who wish to learn to dance are welcome at The Ballroom!

Is there an age limit? Do you have kids classes?

Our classes and lessons are open to any one aged 12 and up. We do not currently offer any children's classes.

Do I need to purchase special shoes? What kind of shoes do I need?

You can find complete details about appropriate, and inappropriate, footwear on our Shoe Policy page. You do not need to purchase special shoes, though many students eventually do so after they've been dancing for awhile.

Do I need a dancer partner? What if I don't have one?

You do not need a dance partner to participate in classes and lessons at The Ballroom. We have many unpartnered students in our classes, as well as student assistants who are available to dance-in as needed. Additionally, our group classes rotate partners many times throughout the evening. This process gives you the best opportunity to learn to dance effectively, by learning the various ways something might be led or followed — thus learning to the correct way to work with that variety and create an effective partnership.

I only want to learn how to dance with the partner I brought with me. Why should I have to share him with someone who wasn't able to find their own partner?

We hear this question frequently enough that the answer actually has its own dedicated page.

In short, rotating partners makes you a better dancer faster and is one of the most cost-effective ways to learn to dance. It is also the method most likely to help your partner to not only become the leader you wish him to be — but to help him actually even learn to enjoy dancing!

We highly recommend you take the time to read our dedicated page about rotating partners. When you are finished, there is a link at the bottom that will bring you right back here.

I can follow just fine with a good leader . . .

None of us were born good followers, or good leaders — yourself included. Being a good follower is a skill that is acquired over time.

Besides, how many "good" leaders do you really get in any particular evening? "Few", is the answer. The true test of a good follower is if they can follow a "poor" to "average" lead, not merely a "good" lead.

(It might surprise you to know that women who take group classes and therefore rotate partners actually become better dancers than women who take exclusively private lessons, only ever dancing with a teacher.)

. . . it's my husband who needs dance lessons. Can you help him?

Your husband needs patient and guided instruction and we are happy to help him (and you) at The Ballroom.

Will I be able to use what I learn outside of dance class?

Absolutely! For those heavily into the Sonoma County "dance scene", there is an opportunity to dance somewhere nearly every night of the week. At The Ballroom, we have dance parties almost every week of the year. These parties start with a one-hour drop-in lesson which is then followed by 2 hours of open dancing to music of all kinds, and provide an excellent opportunity for you to practice in a safe, supportive environment.

Why should I learn to dance?

Once you learn how to lead or follow, a whole new world of partner dancing awaits you. Class reunions, weddings, cruise ships, corporate functions and holiday parties all also offer great opportunities to use your newfound dancing skills.

We hear many stories from students who have attended such events and have been showered with compliments, and even a few requests for lessons! Just remember: even after only 5-weeks of dance class you have leaps and bounds more skill and experience than anyone who has never taken classes at all. It is not unusual to find yourself the envy of many when dancing at such events. Enjoy it! You've earned it! (And we certainly won't object if you want to hand out some of our business cards while you're there!)

Getting Started

My wife wants me to take dance lessons with her, but I'm only comfortable dancing after a few drinks . . .

This need for "liquid courage" is quite common among people who have spent their lives just "winging" it on the dance floor. One of the many beautiful things people learn, when they finally take the opportunity to learn to dance, is that they can actually have a great time without alcohol's influence. This may take some time, but just know that everyone else in your beginning level class is also struggling with courage and comfort issues. This is seen commonly here at The Ballroom, but you are in very good hands with us.

We do, however, need to point out that students dancing with us should abstain from any alcohol or other mind-altering substances prior to classes and lessons. How much prior? Far enough ahead of time that your ability to learn is not impaired, nor is your behavior in class. We strive to create a safe, supportive environment for ALL students at The Ballroom, and ask that you strive to do the same. (You are more than welcome to go out for celebratory drinks, if you need to, after successfully making it through an hour of class. However we promise that this need will quickly diminish over time as you learn to experience the unimpaired joys of dance!)

How long does it take to become a good dancer? / Is there a secret to becoming a good dancer quickly?

Everyone's skill set is different and some become quite good very quickly while others take longer. The short answer is: dance with as many different people as possible, of as many different skill levels as possible, as often as possible.

There are many ways to accomplish this, so to tailor an answer best-suited for you we recommend you talk with one of the teachers at The Ballroom so that they can help you develop a plan that best fits your specific situation. Our New Student Special is a great way to accomplish this for potential students who've not previously taken classes or lessons with us.

What kind of dances do you teach?

We teach a wide array of Ballroom, Latin, Swing, Nightclub, Country, and other types of dances — any or all of which you can learn in group classes and/or private lessons with us. Please see our Dances We Teach pages to learn more about the possibilities open to you when you join us at The Ballroom.

Should I start with group classes or private lessons? What dance should I learn first? Where should I start?

This answer is very dependent upon you, your interests and your plans for joining the exciting world of partner dancing. Visit our Dances We Teach pages and watch the numerous videos we've provided to help you get a sense of what type of dance you might like to learn. These pages describe each of the dances, and also provide example music selections which you might find familiar.

Our one-day Just the Basics workshops are also an excellent way to get exposure to certain types of dance, as are any of our Drop-In classes.

Consider taking advantage of our New Student Special to develop a personalized plan for where to start.

What is the easiest dance to learn?

Everyone is different, so what works for one person might not work for you. Sometimes the type of music used for a dance can help people learn it more quickly, so check-out the various videos available on our Dances We Teach pages to get a feel for each dance.

Many people have good luck starting out with Jitterbug Swing, Nightclub TwoStep, Rumba, or American Waltz.

Our Drop-In classes are a great way for you to try out various dances before committing to an ongoing series of classes.

What is the difference between International Style and American Style?

"American Style" ballroom and latin dancing has always been more popular for social dancing in the United States, whereas "International Style" (sometimes called "English Style") is danced throughout the rest of the world. While we mostly teach American Style here at The Ballroom, we do offer group classes and private lessons in International Style as well.

Should I take more than one type of dance at the same time?

We often encounter students who start out with one or two classes, and after a few sessions are so excited about dance they enroll in several all at once. Depending on your skill level and learning styles, this can become very overwhelming and confusing, especially with dances that have some similarities between them, so sometimes moderation is the best approach. Consider developing your skills in a single dance for several months, and then adding a second dance. Our Social Ballroom Program is specifically designed to develop strong foundation skills for partner dancing, and allow you to easily branch out later into other dances.

How do I know if I am supposed to be a Leader or a Follower?

Anyone can learn either role at The Ballroom and we don't require you learn a certain role based on your gender. However most women do typically choose to start in the "traditionally female" role, which is as a follower, while most men choose to start in the "traditionally male" role, which is the leader. In classes that start the session with a lot of extra followers, and very few available leaders, women often choose to learn the leader's part right away which is perfectly okay, and even encouraged. They then repeat the class the next time and make sure to be a follower for that session so they know both parts.

I have no sense of rhythm and two left feet. How do I work past my fear and embarrassment about taking group classes?

You've come to the right place! John Ross has taught individuals of all kinds — including those with no ability to hear, and individuals with mental disabilities. He has had miraculous results in teaching them to find the beat in music, and begin enjoying the wonderful world of partner dancing.

Everyone starts off awkward and uncomfortable — everyone — especially in Beginning level classes. But they soon realize that the majority of their classmates are just as nervous about being there as they are, and this helps ease much of that initial discomfort.

EVERYone can learn to dance, including you. We have helped hundreds of fearful, uncoordinated men and women become skilled dancers over time! Contact us as soon as possible to take advantage of our New Student Special and schedule a lesson with John so he can help you as well.

Group Classes

When do you teach your group classes? What days are classes offered, at what time, and how long are they?

Group classes are held Monday through Thursday evenings, most weeks of the year. Classes each meet one evening per week, for an hour, typically in 4-week or 5-week sessions.

Who can attend group classes?

Any one aged 12 or older can enroll in our group classes.

How do I find out about upcoming classes and who is teaching them?

The best way to get the most up-to-date information is to subscribe to our weekly email newsletter.

You can also follow us on Facebook or Twitter. Our class schedule page of our website includes complete details about upcoming offerings, including dates, times, and instructors.

What dances can I learn in group classes?

We teach a wide array of Ballroom, Latin, Swing, Nightclub, Country, and other types of dances — any or all of which you can learn in group classes and/or private lessons with us. Please see our Dances We Teach pages to learn more about the possibilities open to you when you join us at The Ballroom.

What is your cancellation policy?

You must notify us 48-hours prior to the first night of class, if you need to transfer your registration to a different class or a future session. Our complete cancellation policy can be found on our group class policies page.

How often are classes offered?

Classes are offered throughout the year, however when or how frequently any particular dance is taught will vary. If you have a particular dance in mind, please contact us for more specific information.

What happens if I am going to be late for class?

Each of our one-hour evening classes starts with a 10-minute warm-up and self-review, allowing the flexibility most students need for dealing with traffic, work schedules and other obligations. Being an additional 5 or 10 minutes late beyond that is typically not entirely disruptive to others in the class, since there is often an instructor review of the prior week's material at this time. However if you arrive late enough to have missed the introduction of new material it can often be challenging to try and keep up for the remainder of the evening.

Students who arrive late often politely sit and observe class and take notes, and then at the end of class consult their instructor so they can immediately schedule a makeup lesson as soon as possible. Many students running late feel like it's best not to bother showing up at all. However it is better to arrive late, try and take notes, and at least get some level of exposure to the material than it is to completely miss the material entirely.

What forms of payment are accepted for group classes?

Group class registration fees may be paid by cash, check, cashiers check, money order, Visa, or MasterCard.

How do I register?

Depending on payment method, you may register online, by phone, by mail, or in person.

What is the typical age of people who take your classes?

Anyone ages 12 and up may enroll in our group classes. Typical students range anywhere from their 20s and 30s all the way up to their 60s or 70s, and even their 80s! The age range of students for any particular class varies by dance type. If you have a particular type of class you wish to know about, it's best to contact us for additional details.

What should I wear to group classes?

Attire typically ranges from casual to "dressy casual". Many couples treat the evening as a "date night", going out to dinner either before or after class, and dress-up accordingly.

Students generally wear something lightweight, comfortable, and that moves easily. Short sleeves are best for both men and women, both for comfort and for temperature. Layers are especially good, since the longer you dance the warmer you will get.

Women typically try to wear something that slips back into position after underarm turns so they don't have worry about adjusting their outfit all night.

How large are your classes?

Class sizes vary heavily depending on day, time, and season, as well as on the dance being offered. Classes may be as small as 6 students, and as large as 30 to 40 students. Average class size is typically 10 to 20 students on any particular night, accounting for absences.

I finished a session of classes. What should I do next?

Your instructor will provide this information as your current session is approaching its conclusion. Generally your next step is to simply enroll in the immediately following session of the same class.

Do I have to attend group classes consecutively?

Generally, yes. Our evening group classes build from week to week during each session. Please refer to our Class Policies page for complete information about attendance requirements and our missed-class policy.

I want to take group classes, but have a busy work schedule. Do I have options?

Our drop-in classes are probably a good option for you. They do not build from week to week, and therefore do not need continuous enrollment to receive benefit from them.

I already know how to dance. How do I know what level class I should join?

The best way to find out is to take advantage of our New Student Special and meet with one of our instructors to discuss your interests and prior dance experience.

What is the difference between "Beginning" and "Beginning/Intermediate?

If you have never taken a particular dance before, you will want to start at the "Beginning" level. If you've learned the dance previously, but have been dancing it for less than 6 months, the "Beginning / Intermediate" level may or may not be appropriate for you. The best way to find out is to take advantage of our New Student Special and meet the instructor teaching the class, to evaluate how your experience compares to our class levels.

Complete details about each level and its prerequisites may be found on our group classes page.

I'm only available on certain days of the week, but you don't have any beginning classes right now on those days. Can I join the Intermediate class?

If you have never taken the class before, then no, an "Intermediate" class is not an appropriate starting place.

"Intermediate" classes are for students who have generally already completed at least 15 to 20 weeks of classes in that particular dance.

What is "Silver-Level"? Can I start there?

Silver Level classes are for advanced social dancers who have completed all prior levels in a particular dance.

Can I come to the first week of class and try it out to see if I want to enroll?

No. The best way to try out the instruction at The Ballroom, without commitment, is to attend one of our many drop-in classes, or to take advantage of our New Student Special.

What happens if I miss a class?

Students who miss a night of class typically choose to schedule a makeup lesson to catch up on the material missed, though this is not required for missing a single class. If you miss two classes in a row, however, you will have missed a substantial amount of material making it difficult to catch-up on your own.

Please see our Class Policies page for complete information about our attendance policy.

What happens if I can't make it to the first night of class?

Generally, if you are going to miss the first night of class — especially if it is the first night of a class you are taking for the first time — you will want to schedule a makeup lesson so that you don't start the class already behind in the material.

My partner is going to miss some classes. Should I attend alone?

Absolutely!

How often do I need to practice at home? What if I don't have a partner to practice with?

The more you practice, the more you'll retain the material, and the faster you'll become a better dancer. Practice with a partner is beneficial, but not required. You can still work through your own part through physical movement and through visualization. Practice without a partner is far better than no practice at all!

Is there a difference in the level of classes I should take if I am learning to lead, versus learning to follow?

Generally, everyone should start in a "Beginning" level class, and stay in "Beginning" and "Beginning/Intermediate" classes until they are completely comfortable with the material and feel ready to move on.

For "series" classes (those that progress across multiple sessions) your instructor will generally keep the class at a particular level until the students are ready to move on, at which time the name of the class will change while the students simply continue attending at the same day and time they have been for the past several sessions.

What are the Benefits of Group Classes?

We are social beings and a group class has an energy that is very conducive to learning, allowing us to benefit from the warmth and kindness of others around us. Questions that classmates ask are often very helpful to those who may be hesitant to ask questions themselves. Plus, we often meet people in a group classes who we befriend and eventually socialize with outside of class.

Private Lessons

What days and times are private lessons available?

Days and times vary by instructor, and are generally offered on weekday afternoons, with some occasional evenings and weekends. Please visit our instructor biographies for specific details.

How are dance lessons scheduled?

Lessons are typically scheduled by phone or in person.

What dances can I learn in private lessons?

We teach a wide array of Ballroom, Latin, Swing, Nightclub, Country, and other types of dances — any or all of which you can learn in group classes and/or private lessons with us. Please see our Dances We Teach pages to learn more about the possibilities open to you when you join us at The Ballroom.

What ages can take private lessons?

We teach anyone aged 12 and up.

What is your cancellation policy?

We require 24-hours advance notice of a missed lesson, in order for your payment to be transferable to a future date.

How long are private lessons

Private lessons are available in 25-minute and 50-minute formats.

What happens if I am going to be late for my lesson?

Private lessons begin at the time scheduled, not at the time the student arrives. If you know in advance you are going to be late, it's best to let your instructor know. In either case, as soon as you arrive your lesson will begin, and will continue until your regularly scheduled end-time.

How many lessons will I need?

This depends on your individual goals. Taking advantage of our New Student Special is the best way to answer this question based on your individual circumstances.

What should I wear to private lessons?

Students generally wear something lightweight, comfortable, and that moves easily.

What forms of payment are accepted for private lessons?

Private lessons can be paid for via cash, check, cashiers check, money order, Visa and MasterCard.

How much do lessons cost?

Cost varies by instructor, number of lessons purchased, and payment method. Complete details are available on our Private Lessons page.

Are discounted lessons available?

Package rates are available when purchasing multiple private lessons at once.

What are the Benefits of Private Lessons?

If you are uncomfortable in a group setting, then private lessons are a fantastic alternative. Or perhaps your schedule does not allow for a 5 week commitment, so private lessons can fit-in perfectly with your schedule.

Maybe you are stuck on something new you've learned in class, and a private lesson can clarify everything and have you feeling super confident once again. Or perhaps you are getting married and want a dynamite routine that will knock the socks off of your friends and family.

These scenarios, and others, are among the many ways private lessons can add benefit to your dancing life.

Wedding Couples

Our wedding is this weekend - can you help?

It's possible! Contact us right away and we'll do our best!

What kind of dance can we do for our first dance at our wedding?

Whatever kind of dance you'd like! Check out our wedding page for sample videos of the many options available to you!

We're getting married soon. How many lessons do we need? When should we start?

The number of lessons really depends on the couple, and what you're interested in doing for your First Dance. Contact us to discuss your options, and/or consider taking advantage of our New Student Special.

We just got engaged! When should we start taking lessons?

The sooner the better! The more practice, experience, and confidence you have, the easier and more enjoyable your First Dance will be. Don't forget to check out our wedding page for the vast array of possibilities available to you!

Drop-In Lessons

What are drop-in lessons?

Drop in lessons are 1-hour classes that do not build from week to week, and have no commitment.

What types of drop-in lessons are available?

We have three types of drop-in lessons. Our Tuesday afternoon Just-for-Seniors Class, our Wednesday evening Just-the-Basics Class, and the drop-in lessons held right before one of our weekend dance parties.

What is the cost? Do I need to pre-register? What forms of payment are accepted?

Our Tuesday and Wednesday Drop-In lessons are $12 per person, per night attended, unless otherwise indicated. (Discounted multi-class passes are available.)

Our weekend dance parties are $10 per person.

No pre-registration is required — just show up with $12 cash or check!

Weekend Dance Parties

What and when are your weekend dance parties?

We have a weekend dance party on most 1st, 2nd, and 4th Fridays of the month, as well as most 3rd and 4th Saturdays of the month.

What is the cost? Do I need to pre-register? What forms of payment are accepted?

No pre-registration is required for our regular weekend dance parties.

The cost is just $10 cash or check, for the entire evening!

How do I know what lessons is being taught, and who is teaching it?

The best way to get the most up-to-date information is to subscribe to our weekly email newsletter.

You can also follow us on Facebook or Twitter, and of course visit the dedicated weekend dance parties page of our website.

Our 4th Saturday of the month dances are always hosted by Elizabeth. All other weekend dance parties are hosted alternately by John, Lauralie, and Den & Jen.

What should I wear to weekend dance parties?

Attire typically ranges from casual to "dressy casual". Many couples treat our weekend dances as "date night" so dress-up accordingly.

Students generally wear something lightweight, comfortable, and that moves easily. Short sleeves are best for both men and women, both for comfort and for temperature. Layers are especially good, since the longer you dance the warmer you will get.

Women typically try to wear something that slips back into position after underarm turns so they don't have worry about adjusting their outfit all night.

Misc

Can I rent your studio for a private event?

Yes! Please see our Facility Rentals section for complete details.

Do you teach at parties or fundraisers?

Yes! Please see our Off-Site Instruction section for more information.

When and where can I go to practice?

For those heavily into the Sonoma County "dance scene", there is an opportunity to dance somewhere nearly every night of the week. At The Ballroom, we have dance parties almost every week of the year. These parties start with a one-hour drop-in lesson which is then followed by 2 hours of open dancing to music of all kinds, and provide an excellent opportunity for you to practice in a safe, supportive environment.

American Waltz  •   American Tango  •   Argentine Tango  •   Bachata  •   Bolero  •   Cha Cha  •   Charleston  •   Club Salsa  •   Country Waltz  •   Cumbia  •   East Coast Swing  •   Foxtrot  •   Hustle  •   Jitterbug  •   Jive  •   Lindy Hop  •   Line Dance  •   Nightclub TwoStep  •   Mambo  •   Merengue  •   Polka  •   Quickstep  •   Rumba  •   Salsa  •   Samba  •   Texas TwoStep  •   Viennese Waltz  •   West Coast Swing  •   Wedding / Choreography
The Ballroom ~ Directed by John Ross ~ 977 Golf Course Drive, Rohnert Park, CA 94928 ~ 707-586-1136