The Charleston dance became popular after appearing along with the song, "The Charleston," by James P. Johnson in the Broadway musical Runnin' Wild in 1923.
Although the origins of the dance are obscure, the dance has been traced back to blacks who lived on an island off the coast of Charleston, South Carolina (which is why the dance is called "Charleston"). The Charleston dance had been performed in black communities since 1903, but did not become internationally popular until the musical debuted in 1923.
The music for the Charleston is ragtime jazz, in quick 4/4 time with syncopated rhythms. It can be done as a solo dance or with a partner, and is often incorporated into East Coast Swing dancing.
For music options try the Django Reinhardt version of "Sweet Georgia Brown" or "Puttin' on the Ritz", the Irving Berlin classic.
Classic Slow Dance
Over the years many engaged couples have brought us the song that they will be using as their First Dance which does not fall into the Ballroom, Latin, Country or Nightclub category. Most often it is a song that has a very slow beat which lends itself well to what we refer to as "Classic Slow Dance".
Many figures from all the other dance categories can be applied to Classic Slow Dance. It is a very easy and beautiful dance to learn.
Polka is defined as a vivacious couple dance with a basic pattern of hop-step-together-step, and it was originally a Czech peasant dance. Historians believe that the polka was invented by a peasant girl one Sunday for her amusement. The dance was first introduced into the ballrooms of Prague in 1835 and to England and the United States by the middle of the nineteenth century.
In the second World War, Polish immigrants to the United States adopted the polka as their "national" dance and became extremely popular with Americans who succumbed to the new polka craze popularized by Lawrence Welk and other post-war bands. In classical music, many polkas were composed by Johann Strauss, and a couple of well-known ones were composed by Bedrich Smetana, the author of "Roll Out the Barrel".
Of all the dances originating in the nineteenth-century, the only one that has survived is the polka which is still popular to this day, even right here in Sonoma County
Wedding Dances & Choreography
Many couples traditionally have a First Dance at their wedding reception, in addition to father-daughter and mother-son dances. Some couples plan months in advance, while others don't realize it until mere days before The Big Day that this is something they'd like to do. In either case, we are here to help – to give you the Gift of Dance - the gift which you will be able to use throughout your entire lives together.
Visit our Wedding page for complete details on how we can help make your Big Day special, including a list of song suggestions to help get you started.
Here at The Ballroom we teach all levels of what we refer to as "Freestyle" — the dancing you do without a partner, and when you do not know the appropriate partner dance for a particular song.
It is what most people dance to contemporary pop music.
(Your grandparents may have called this "jump and wiggle" dancing, though we teach it with bit more structure than just your random jumping and wiggling!)