History of the First Dance

The first wedding dance is a beautiful celebration that can symbolise the relationship of a couple and a great way to break the ice at the reception. In learning the first dance couples find an opportunity to bond deeper with their partners because it requires teamwork more than other activities. The couples must learn leading and following and steps that might challenge them but in this process they have a good time and the end product symbolises their relationship. 

When they come to our dance studio, couples usually are interested in the history of the first dance. In doing so they learn from us that the first dance is quite a new tradition in the wedding celebration. Even though the exact inception or exactly first first dance is unknown, the origins of this tradition come from after WWI. Prior to this the wedding reception was done in European and American  weddings mostly at the brides house. With limited space, the bride and groom would dine with their guests and socialise without much accent on dancing even though music was played by bands. 

After the war, publications like newspapers started suggesting the newlyweds have their first dance alone as it would be more intimate. This idea caught up easily among newlyweds and it slowly spread throughout Europe and US. At first this was not treated as a performance or seen as mandatory.

As society evolved, post WWII dance halls started to gain popularity especially in England so dancing was seen more as a social skill, an opportunity to show off maybe or just to have fun. The popularity of Ballroom dancing grew all around Europe and US, even more through TV and as celebrities or very rich people started to adopt the first dance for their weddings, regular people slowly followed.

Nowadays, almost every couple have a sort of wedding dance, wether it being a slow romantic first dance, or a more complicated, choreographed dance in which the couple show off their dancing skills and have a blast in doing so. We would recommend thinking of your first dance as a fun way to spend time with your partner, doing an activity together.

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Wedding First Dance FAQs – Part 2

We don't have a song in mind yet. Can we still start the lessons?

Yes that is not a problem. You can start by booking a FREE 30 minutes trial lessons in one of our studios and the teacher will advise you on the song choice or you can browse through our list of songs and make shortlist and discuss it on the lesson. 

What if we don't want anything too complicated or choreographed?

Again, that shouldn’t be any problem. We understand that some might not have any dance experience and just want to learn a few basic steps to look elegant on the floor. We can accommodate your needs and we can teach you basic steps that will make you look good on your big day.

What should we wear for the dance lessons?

For the first lesson you can pretty much wear anything as long as you feel comfortable as you will learn a few steps but nothing too complicated. For the rest of the lessons ideally would be to have some trainers / or formal shoes for men and for women a shoe similar to what you will be wearing on the day. This way you will feel safe when dancing your first dance.

What if we don't have any experience at all?

No worries about that. Almost all of our couples have no experience and experience the same “fear”. We will teach you steps that are easy to learn and start from basic concepts that are easy to understand so you feel comfortable and we will progress towards more ellaborate steps when you are ready. The dance styles we teach are generally slow paced and if you feel that you want a challenge we can up the tempo. With a few lessons you will be able to dance and feel more relaxed.

My husband is scared. How can he be reassured?

Most men are a bit reluctant at first. The first thing to know is that we will start slow. With easy steps and clear instructions you will be dancing in no time. We will make sure you understand first and then practice each step until it becomes a habitual movement for your body.

How far apart should we book the lessons?

Generally we would recommend to have the lessons 1 or 2 weeks apart. This gives you some time to practice in between the lessons so the next time we see each other, we use the time to learn more and perfect the steps.

Should we have lessons longer than 1 hour?

This is an option to be considered if you don’t have much time or if you are close to your wedding day. It can also be an option if you want a longer choreography or a medley of songs. In an hours space we can usually cover about 30 seconds to a minute of choreography.

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bridge and groom dancing

How can I make my First Dance more interesting?

bridge and groom dancing

The First dance can be a challenge, especially if you are a beginner and want to put on a nice show for your guests. The most important thing is to have fun while doing it, so we are here to give you a few tips to make it stand out.  There are plenty of options to chose from, so  we’ll talk about 5 of the most effective.

1. Choosing the right song for you.

When talking about your first dance song, there’s no right or wrong. It’s just the right song for you to feel special on the day and feel that the song choice represents you, your relationship and your partnership. When you find the right song, everything comes naturally. Even though you will dance in front of tens if not hundreds of people, you will feel at ease because you like the song and it has a meaning for you.That is why we believe the song is the first step in making your first dance a success. Whatever your choice is, we can build a bespoke choreography for you to enjoy on the day.

2. Have a band perform the song.

Another great option is to have a band perform your song. This can give another dimension to your dance as the sounds are unique and thus creates a nice atmosphere. Make sure you have the band record the song before you come to the dance lessons , so you can plan your choreography on the exact song. This is very important as you wouldn’t want any unexpected surprises on the day.

3. Mix it up, try a group dance.

In addition to your fist dance, you can have your close friends dace alongside you and make a wonderful group dance. It doesn’t have to be a professional dance , just make it fun and share this moment with your friends. Another option is the Father-Daughter dance which can give you a special feel that you can enjoy with your loved ones.

4. Have your guests join the dance.

Pick a moment in your dance when guests can join in and make it a party. This is a great choice especially if you have a longer song and you don’t want to dance the whole time alone. Another option to involve the guests is to have them join in straight after your dance with a change in the song and mood. A good combination could be you to dance a more romantic dance and have the guests join in on a more rhythmical dance like salsa or r&b. You can always ask your DJ for suggestions.

5.Try some fancy moves.

Definitely a great way to make your dance stand out is to ask your teacher to teach you a few twirls, dips and maybe even a lift. Don’t worry if you have a bigger dress, your teacher will know how to introduce the figures so that you can dance them easily. You can have twirls in any dance as long as thy sync with the music but just so you know more dynamic dances like Jive, Salsa or Swing have more elaborated turns and dips.

Your first dance is a great moment in the wedding reception so why not try one or more of those tricks to make it a memorable one. Pick a song that says something about you, have the band play it, involve the guests or not, but most importantly have fun and enjoy the dance!

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What dance style should I chose as a First Dance?

wedding first dance

Firstly, that's a good question! Let's see the options...

There are many options for your first dance. You have so many dances that would be a great fit for a first dance. You can chose a slow, romantic dance like the English Waltz or Viennese Waltz, or Foxtrot. You could maybe opt for a swing dance style which is a bit faster and can give you a bit of an adrenaline rush being more challenging. Swing Dances are the Jive or East Coast Swing which is slower than jive, thus recommended if you are a beginner. Also a more challenging dance but one of the more spectacular because of its turns, is Salsa. Another option from the latin dances could be Merengue or Bachata. These are Slower than Salsa and popular due to their romantic look. 

If you do not have any dance experience, we would definitely recommend a slower dance but even if you chose a faster, more challenging dance, our instructors will be able to teach you basic fun moves which don’t need very much repetition.

 

first dance at a wedding

Elegant - Romantic Dance Styles

In  this category we can include the more traditional wedding dances like English Waltz, Viennese Waltz, Foxtrot and Tango.

Most of them are slower dance styles and for these dances the choreography can be made for a bigger dance floor. The slowest of them all is the English Waltz. This dance style is very easy to learn and requires absolutely no experience. Steps are easy to learn and it helps very much that the music is generally slow.

The Viennese Waltz is usually a more upbeat dance style but in the same time it is very elegant, reminding of the Viennese Balls that still take place in the Austrian capital. A very formal style but a very elegant and still romantic.

The Foxtrot is a bit more playful than the others, usually danced on a faster pace but still holding a solid frame. Frank Sinatra’s songs are generally in this dance style. Again quite romantic but a bit of fun in it as well. 

Tango is a different dance all together. The music is more intense and romantic and the rhythm is staccato, sharp and edgy. You can learn it quite easily because of the clear structure but more complex figures might require some at home practice.

 

Fun Filled Dance Styles

When we talk about fun dancing pleasure we need to talk about Swing. Swing is a great dance style because the dancers can combine different types of twirls and twists and really engage with one another while changing places and swinging hips around. Definitely a bit more challenging but we had couples learn swing in a few lessons and they managed to actually have fun on the big day. 

Another fun to watch dance style is Salsa. Salsa is all about the hips and arms. The legs have to move constantly to the rhythm but once you learn the basic steps you can combine them and come up with hundreds of variations that actually make sense. If  you like a challenge we really recommend this dance. You’ll have a sensational night!

Merengue and Bachata. Two similar slow dances but filled with romance and sensuality. Compared with Salsa, which is a faster dance, these two can be danced slower and more attention is given to the relationship rather than the steps. When learning these two styles you will mainly focus on listening to the music and being one with your partner. That makes it very easy and you will enjoy it.

Our advice, start with a song you like.

The best advice we can give you when thinking about your first dance is to chose a song/songs that you both like and has a meaning for you. When you have a song you like it’s much easier and pleasant to learn and feel good in doing so. From there we will take over and help you dance and feel fantastic. On the first lesson we will help you decide on the song, taking into consideration your dance experience and song choice and will guide you to learn and have fun in the process.

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Top Indoor Wedding Venues – Lodon 2020 – 2021

Finding the perfect wedding venue in 2020 can be quite a daunting experience just because there is so much choice out there. So we thought we would give you a hand and pick a few of our favourite indoor wedding venues. We picked these because we think they stand out  from the rest. Have a look, you might find the perfect place fro your special day.

1. Galleries at The Museum of London

This place looks the part in many ways, from the way the reception area fits in with the rest of the museum and the decorations on the walls , to the different lighting.The decorations and different textures on the walls make this venue great for photos. The galleries include the 18th century Pleasure Gardens which makes a romantic and unique venue for a wedding ceremony, civil partnership, wedding reception. 

Space available is around 1100 square meters with disabled access and outside space. Capacity between 150 and 220 for the reception.  

Book a viewing here:  https://hirespace.com/Spaces/London/11048/Museum-of-London/Galleries/Weddings

2. ARCELORMITTAL ORBIT

We chose this space fro one main reason, it has a great panoramic view over London. Situated near Queen Elisabeth Olympic Park, its easy to access wherever your friends /relatives live and has  space for 160 dining, or 270 standing. Its fit for a medium wedding and equipped with all the necessary comforts like wifi, catering upon request, reception and cloakroom.

Book a viewing here:  https://hirespace.com/Spaces/London/33052/ArcelorMittal-Orbit/ArcelorMittal-Orbit/Events

3. HONOURABLE SOCIETY OF LINCOLN'S INN

For a more traditional, spiritual wedding reception, we would definitely suggest to have a look at Honourable Society of Lincoln’s Inn. This space is a wonderful masterpiece of paining and sculpture.

Opened by Queen Victoria in 1845, the Great Hall, complete with striking fresco, minstrel’s gallery and a ceiling of beautifully worked oak, is described as one of the most impressive surviving buildings of its kind in London. It represents a part of London’s history and something worth considering if you are looking for a special venue. 

Book a viewing here:  https://hirespace.com/Spaces/London/6210/Honourable-Society-of-Lincolns-Inn/Great-Hall/Events

We hope you enjoyed the article. Stay tuned for more and follow us on our Facebook and Instagram pages.

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Top 10 First Dance Songs – Summer 2019

Summer is in full swing and if you haven’t made up your mind yet about your first dance song, here are a few suggestions to help you.

No.1: Eric Clapton – Wonderful Tonight

This one is a slow song, that we personally like. It’s slow, it’s easy to dance to and you can follow the lyrics to give you the rhythm. Definitely one to be considered if you want a romantic first dance.

No. 2: Ray la Montagne – You are the best thing

This song is so rhythmical and so easy to dance to. The trumpet gives it a nice fresh sound and also the lyrics are very relatable. It’s not a cliche song but its romantic nevertheless. 

No. 3: Dean Martin – That’s Amore

Classical Italian song for a summer wedding.  You can have fun on this one playing with the different rhythms. Even though it’s suited to a Viennese Waltz dance style, you can have more steps combined for this song. Have fun listening! 

No. 4: Calum Scott & Leona Lewis – You are the reason

One of the most romantic songs we’ve ever heard here at First Dance London. It’s very slow and very easy to learn to dance to, that’s why many couples like this song. You could consider having it as your first dance song if you don’t have very much experience with dancing and pull some nice elegant moves.

No. 5: Ed Sheran – Thinking out loud 

Ed Sheran knows how to put that special love feeling into words and songs. One of his best and well known songs goes into this summer’s  top because it genuinely good. We had many couples asking for choreography on this song because of the dancing moves in the clip. Is this your song also?

No. 6: Jason Mraz – Lucky

This song has got the rhythm, feel and fun to its side. A great song to start a party. Starts slowly, goes higher and you can mark the highlights with lifts and dips and in between just the two of you, dancing to a great song.

No. 7: Frank Sinatra & Count Basie – Fly me to the Moon

This song comes from 1954, the era of great hats and foxtrot rhythms. If you have a retro themed party this song and its trumpets are for you. Have fun and dance a slow foxtrot on this song like they used to. 

No. 8: Jack Johnson – Better Together

Another slow foxtrot style. Very popular this summer amongst our clients. It’s rhythmical but has a deep message and that makes it one of our favourite songs as well. Enjoy dancing!

No. 9: The Wood Brothers – Luckiest Man

“People say i’m the luckiest man”. We love the lyrics of this song and the way it’s played, very simple with just the guitar and the voice. Makes a very good choice for a simple chic wedding amongst friends and loved people.

No. 10: Sixpence None the richer – Kiss Me 

The song title says it all. You know it’s a good first dance song the moment you hear the chorus. Style wise its fitted for a swing, more alert dance but that doesn’t mean the figures and steps will be difficult. You can have lots of fun with simple jive steps and twist and twirl on this song all night long.  

We hope you enjoyed our first dance songs selection and hope to see you in one of our locations for a great time learning your first dance. Until then, keep on loving each other and keep on dancing!

Feel free to share this article with your friends that are getting married. Leave us a comment if you have other first dance song suggestions. We’re here to make your first dance an unforgettable memory!

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First Dance Tips

Make your first dance an unforgettable experience

The First Dance London team has worked with numerous couples and throughout the years we have learned a lot about how to best prepare your wedding. In this article we would like to share with you some tips that we hope will guide you into making your wedding dance an unforgettable experience. 

negative-space-couple-wedding-day-photographer-photo-party-restaurant-dance-move-man-woman

Planning

  1. Have your song picked at your first lesson or bring your top 2 or 3 songs for the teacher to help you choose the best one for your dance. Make the most of the time in the studio as it is very valuable and you want to spend it wisely. If you haven’t decided yet on a favourite song, have a look on this list of songs.
  2. Try to keep your wedding dance around 3 minutes.This way your guests will be engaged and entertained the entire time. Keep it sweet, entertaining and impressive! 

Rehearsals

  1. Important for the ladies! Practice with the wedding shoes if possible. Dancing in heels is totally different from dancing in flats. Also let your teacher know if your wedding dress will restrict your movement in any way. If you have any decorations on the upper part that might restrict your hands from rising, or if your train is very long. Best is always to have a photo of your dress with you to show your dance teacher.
  2. Take videos! This is a great  dance practice tool and often used by our clients. Having a video with the steps learned will help you remind every detail and will make your practice much much easier.
  3. Dancing is about enjoying each other’s company. Be supportive to each other and remember that you are in this together. This is your time to connect and enjoy. 

The Performance 

  1. Remember that no one else knows your wedding dance routine , so even if you make a mistake it’s ok. Have fun and smile.
  2. This is your moment together with your partner, relax and enjoy. 

Preparing your wedding dance it’s not only about performing your first dance on your wedding day, it’s also about enjoying the dance lessons and the whole process. It’s a great chance to spend time together with your future husband or wife, dancing on one of your favourite songs. 

One of our clients performing their La La Land Inspired Wedding Dance Choreography.

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Wedding First Dance FAQs

When is the right time to start preparing our first dance?

Depending on your ability, if you have dance experience or not, and just if you feel confident, we would recommend to strat at least one month before the wedding. In the article Wedding First Dance Lessons – What to expect & how many is enough?, we address the planning of the lessons so you can figure out how much time you have and we recommend the first few lessons to be closer together and the last ones to be left for closer to the wedding.

We have a few songs in mind. How should we decide?

Firstly, our teachers recommend you to chose the song you both like. That is the most important aspect. If it’s a choice between a rhythmical and a slower song and you like both, we could suggest to start on the slower one, get the mood going and then surprise everyone with some cool moves on the second one. A good combination is Waltz and Salsa for example. We have couples that opt to dance for a minute or so on the waltz or blues song, and then break the rhythm with salsa. It can be Merengue, Bachata, Jive/Swing, important is to like the songs. We’ll take care of the choreography.

Where do you teach?

In this aspect we are quite flexible. We have two teaching locations in Mayfair – London, one studio in Kennington – Oval Station and another one in Dulwich near North Dulwich train station. All our studios are located within walking distance from tube or train stations so they are easy to access. They have top of the line sound equipment and you can opt for total privacy in your dance lesson. Also we have the option to teach you in the privacy of your home. All you need to do is tell us in the contact form and we can arrange that for you. One of our dance instructors will come to you and help you with your first dance choreography.

Wedding couple dancing their first dance in black and white.

What packages of lessons do you offer?

We have Package options depending on the studio you chose to have your lessons in. Please see the complete price list and studio locations here. We also offer a free 30 Minutes introduction lesson for Dulwich and Kennington studios. For other studios the Trial lesson option is priced at £15 for 30 minutes.

What should we expect from the 30 Minutes Trial Lesson?

The trial lesson is for you to duscuss with the dance teacher about the following: wedding location, space on the dance floor, details about the dress, shoes, if you have any special requirements and so on. If you are not sure yet on the song choice our teachers will advise you on the best option. They will make a personalised plan around your schedule and book the lessons. You can read more about the trial lesson in our blog 30 Minutes Trial Lesson – WHY IS IT SO IMPORTANT?

What is the duration of a dance lesson?

The normal dance session lasts 60 minutes. But there are times when we have couples with less time until the wedding and we would suggest to have longer sessions. In this case we would recommend you to have 1.5 h sessions, or depending on the circumstances, even 2h sessions. Longer than that we believe it’s not productive anymore.

Wedding couple dancing their first dance in an elegant venue

What is the booking procedure?

We usually take the bookings through our contact form. We thought it to be simple and efficient with relevant options to chose from and a space for your requests.  Also we are available via phone from Monday to Friday – 8 AM to 10 PM. Please feel free to contact us however is more convenient for you.

Do you teach group dances - bride & bridesmaids /groom & groomsmen?

Yes we do. Please contact us and let us know about your group and we would be happy to help you.

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bride and groom celebrating their wedding

Wedding Dance Lessons – what to expect & how many is enough?

bride and groom celebrating their wedding

We often have enquiries form couples that want their wedding dance choreographed but don’t really know what to expect from their lessons. How many lessons should you have to feel confident and relaxed on the big day?

Well, it depends...

If you opt for a simple choreography, 2 - 2 and a half minutes, we would recommend to opt for the Gold Package. Here's why?

It usually takes a few lessons to build up the choreography, meaning steps, positioning on the dance floor, directions and timing on the music. Depending on each couples ability we reckon between 3 and 4 lessons will be enough to learn the steps and feel comfortable with the basics. We recommend that these lessons are done closer to one another. This way, you will have the choreography done and you can keep the rest of the sessions for polishing the edges.

1st Lesson: You will learn a few basic steps to help you further along in developing the choreography, along with very important leading and following advice.

2nd and 3rd Lesson: Your dance instructor will teach you the choreography, directions, timing. They should make a small video at the end of each lesson for you to have and practice before the next session.

4th and 5th Lesson: Depending on how you progress and how quickly you learn the choreography, these last two lessons are kept for styling, presentation and small details that might appear when you start doing the choreography on the music.

If the teacher sees fit, they will recommend another lesson to make sure you practice enough and feel really confident with all the steps.

For couples that want something more entertaining, challenging, maybe a collage of 2 or 3 songs, 3- 4 minutes of choreography, we would strongly recommend to have the Platinum Package.

This offers you enough time to really think the choreography through with all the changes and moments when you need to link the songs. Here is a summary of what you can expect from the Platinum Experience. 

1st Lesson: This will be mainly used to plan the choreography and how the songs will go together, dips and lifts if it’s the case, showing the teacher ideas that you have. 

2nd Lesson: Once everything is clear about how the choreography will look like, it’s time to go to the basics. Your teacher will go through the basics and prepare you for the more difficult steps. 

3rd – 7th Lessons: In this time frame the instructor will teach you the choreography, steps, lifts and dips, going through all the details. We allow time in these lessons for changes as well. So if you feel in any way that the steps are too difficult or do not fit with your personality and style, please feel free to ask the teacher to give you another option. We are committed to providing you with a choreography that you can dance and enjoy 100%.

8th – 10th Lessons: It’s all about PRACTICE. Your instructor will have you repeat the choreography and with each repetition, he/she will signal the mistakes, correct the posture, adjust the timing if needed and so on. 

By the end of the lessons you should feel that you had plenty of practice on the choreography. 

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planing your wedding first dance

30 Minutes Trial Lesson – WHY IS IT SO IMPORTANT?

30 MINUTES TRIAL LESSON - WHY IS IT SO IMPORTANT?

planning the first dance on your wedding day

We want to make your wedding dance a fun, stylish and enjoyable experience and make you look fantastic on the dance floor – FAST! 

Every detail it’s important for us as we know that your wedding day is one of the most important days of you life. We create for you a bespoke wedding dance program and all this information helps us understand what would be best for your first wedding dance. 

Questions to consider: 

  • What kind of music will you have at your wedding?
  • Do you have a band or a DJ? 
  • Will they play your first dance song? 
  • What’s the size of the dance floor?
  • Does your dress or veil have any limitations?
  • What type of shoes will you be wearing? 
  • How would you describe the style of the wedding? 

If you don’t have all the answers, don’t worry, we will advise you on the trial class and find the best possible solution. The trial lesson is also a good opportunity to meet each other.

 

If your lifestyle is very busy or the wedding preparations are taking over, give us a quick call at 07958601294 or send us an email and we can discuss everything by phone or email.