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New Student FAQs

Q: What can I expect in a beginning group class lesson?

A: First of all, welcome!  We love to have new dancers join us in class.  Plan to arrive 5 to 10 minutes early. After you have paid for the class, take a seat anywhere in the ballroom. Other students, singles or in couples, will arrive for class as well.

We will play one or two songs for a warm-up before class begins. Please feel free to review the figures you learned the previous week, either by yourself or with a partner.

At the beginning of class, we will demonstrate the pattern that we are learning. Next, we will divide the class into men (leaders) and women (followers). Leaders and followers will learn their parts separately before dancing their parts together. You will dance once or twice with each partner before rotating to another partner in class. Rotating in class is not required. However, changing partners vastly increases your learning curve. Finally, after several partner rotations, you will dance the pattern with a partner to music.

Q: What is the most effective way to learn to dance?

A: A combination of group lessons, private lessons, and dance parties is the fastest way to learn to dance. Group lessons are the most inexpensive method of learning. Private lessons are the most efficient, as the instructor can address your specific goals.  For more information on group and private lessons at UpTown Ballroom, click here.
Q: Do I need a partner?

A: Nope! Many people come by themselves.  There will be lots of people to dance with.  We rotate throughout the class in order to dance with a variety of people. This also significantly improves your learning curve!
Q: Can I really learn to ballroom dance?

A: Absolutely! Ballroom dancing is the best way to meet people from all over Portland and beyond. Dancing is also a great hobby for couples to share. It is also great accidental exercise!

UpTown Ballroom strives to make beginning classes as accessible and comfortable as possible. We provide clear and easy beginning instruction that teaches correct technique in your very first class. Our smaller classes encourage beginning students to ask questions and allows for more personalized instruction than do big group classes. By the end of your first class, you will be able to dance 2-4 figures in you new dance style, and by the end of the month, you will have a choreographed routine of 4-6 figures.

UpTown Ballroom offers " Newcomer " level group classes for the brand new dancer.  Each month begins a new class series. Newcomer group class series are $7 per class if you pre-pay for the entire series or $9 per individual class (drop-in).
Q: What happens at the end of the class series?

A: You may take another beginning class series, an intermediate class series, or a private lesson. The choice is up to you! Although we often teach the same dances in beginning classes, we do not always teach the same figures. For example, if you attended a beginning waltz series in January, and attended a second beginning waltz series in May, you would likely learn some new figures. Many students repeat classes in the beginning level until they feel comfortable with the material. When you feel ready to move on, the same dances are taught at intermediate and advanced levels.  Private lessons are also available to help you feel comfortable more quickly and accelerate your growth.   
Q: Do I need experience?

A: We love beginners! The beginning level classes start with the basics. You will fit right in! The more classes you take, and the more dances you attend, the faster you will become an accomplished dancer.
Q: What should I wear?

A: For group classes and private lessons, wear everyday clothes that are easy to move in. Thin-soled dress shoes will work if you don't have ballroom shoes. There are several dance shoe stores in the area, including The Glass Slipper at 3106 NE Broadway.  Social dances are slightly more dressy, but make sure you feel comfortable and able to dance.
Q: How much do lessons cost?

A: Beginning group classes for adults are $7, Intermediate classes are $9, and Advanced are $11 if you pay for the whole month on the first week of class. Each class is $2 additional if you chose to pay for one week at a time, and "drop in".  Private lessons are $70 for 45 minutes.
Q: How many lessons will I need to get ready for my wedding dance?

A: Five private lessons should be enough to learn your wedding dance choreography. Bring us your song on CD, and we will design a memorable first dance! A five lesson package, complete with original choreography, is offered for wedding couples at $325. For more information on wedding dances, click here.
Q: How often do you start new classes?

A: New class series start the first week of every month and run the entire month. See the Calendar tab for current class offerings.
Q: How much will I learn in one private lesson?

A: How much you learn in a private lesson depends upon you!  Private lessons are the perfect place to work on technique and partnering skills.  These skills, which are easier to learn in a one-on-one setting, are extremely important to your success in dancing.  We can also help you with particular dance steps that you are finding tricky, and send you home with technique drills that you can practice on your own.
Q: How much will I learn in a group lesson?

A: By the end of your first class, you will be able to dance 2-4 figures in you new dance style, and by the end of the month, you will have a choreographed routine of 4-6 figures.
Q: How can I pay for my classes?

A: We currently accept cash, checks, and gift certificates. Sorry, we don't accept credit cards.
Q: How do I find a partner?

A: Meeting people in group classes or at dance parties is the best way to find a practice partner. Notifying your instructor of your partner goals is also beneficial, as they can keep an eye out for potential partners. Also, the more social dances you attend, the more people you get to know! This also may help you find someone to practice with.
Q: People say that there are too many women and not enough men in class. Is this true?

A: Gender parity is different each day for each class. While we occasionally have an uneven number of leads and follows, rotating partners ensures that everyone has a chance to dance.
Q: Is there parking near your studio?

At our SE Studio location, there is a lot of free street parking available.  The US Bank lot, and the lot at 7th and Washington can also be used after hours.

At our SW Studio location, there is lots of free off-street parking. Park anywhere except the few reserved spots. Spaces are available along all sides of the building.
Q: What is the age range of students in your classes?

A: Our students range from 5 to 94! Everyone is welcome.
Q: Do we have to rotate partners in class?

A: No. Rotating partners is not required. However, we do encourage it, because as scary as it may be to begin with, you quickly get to know the other students in your class, and also are much more likely to catch on to the patterns.  If you stick with the partner that you came with, you will continue to get stuck on the same problem time after time, where switching to a new partner can help you through the trouble spot.
Q: When are your dance parties?

A: We hold dance parties from 8-11 pm every 2nd, 4th and 5th Saturday of the month, with a free lesson (with dance admission) from 8:00-8:30.
Q: Can I skip the lesson & just come to the party?

A: Certainly! Although we encourage beginning dancers to take advantage of the free lessons, many of our dance attendees arrive after the lesson.
Q: When do classes start and when do they meet?

A: New class series begin on the first week of every month. Classes will meet for 1 hour at the same time each week. You may choose to attend the entire series or just drop-in to classes.  We recommend that you start attending the class near the beginning of the month, as each class builds on the previous one.
Q: How do I know what class is right for me?

A: If you are a new dancer, or new to a specific style of dancing, we highly recommend that you take the beginning group classes. For more experienced dancers, we recommend our intermediate and advanced class series. If you are unsure if a beginning or intermediate class is right for you, we invite you to come observe a beginning class for free. If you have questions, please email us at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or call us at (503) 740-3838. We would love to assist you!
Q: Will I be the only beginner?

A: Certainly not! Every month we welcome brand-new dancers to their first group classes. You'll fit right in!
Q: What dances do you teach?

A: We teach International Standard, International Latin, and various social dances. International Standard consists of Waltz, Tango, Viennese Waltz, Foxtrot, and Quickstep. Cha Cha, Samba, Rumba, Paso Doble, and Jive are the five international Latin dances. We also teach East and West Coast Swing, Night Club, Meringue, Salsa, Mambo, and Bolero. For more information on specific dances, or more information on the difference between international and American style, please visit our Dance Styles (link to dance styles) section.
Q: Where do people go to dance?

A: We host dance parties every 2nd, 4th and 5th Saturday. The Portland Metro area is full of ballroom dancing venues and offers social dancing every weekend and throughout the week. For a full list of dancing options, please visit: http://portlanddancing.com/ or http://www.portlandballroomdancers.com/calendar
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