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Gettin’ My Groove On at Society Hill Dance Academy

ballroomdancing1A few weeks ago, I told you about the renewed local interest in ballroom dancing that Silver Linings Playbook seems to have spawned. And while I can’t say I’ve personally ever considered giving ballroom dance a try, when the folks at the Society Hill Dance Academy offered me a private introductory lesson, I didn’t hesitate to accept.

I mean, really, what could I possibly have better to do on a Wednesday night? Plus, my current arsenal of dance moves could definitely use a dose of sophistication and well, actual structure.

After chatting it up for a few minutes with SHDA owner, Shana Vitoff-Heidorn and our instructor, Anthony—both of whom were incredibly personable—it was finally time to get down to business. Having no idea whether I wanted to tango, salsa, waltz, foxtrot, cha-cha, or swing, I left the decision up to Anthony who opted to have us start out with the foxtrot.

Next, my friend and I had to establish our individual roles: leader or follower. Given my rather haphazard motor skills, I knew I was probably better suited for following, but ultimately decided to lead instead. Go big or go home, right?

With about a thousand different analogies up his sleeve—some more translatable than others—Anthony managed to smooth out the initial awkwardness of the dance, which essentially entails you and your partner creating a box with your feet while fighting all your natural dancing instincts. Think: graceful robot. Who knew you could dance without moving your hips?

Having come wearing chunky short boots, I often felt like I was trying to control two hoofs rather than two feet. I’d highly recommend ladies wear either comfortable, short heels or flats to a lesson. If not for your own benefit, than for the sake of your partner’s feet which you are pretty much guaranteed to trample all over. I’d also recommend closing your eyes as that seemed to be the most effective way for me to concentrate on my technique.

In spite of my haphazard motor skills, I must say, I did pretty dang good for a first timer. And more importantly, I had a lot of fun—far more than I would have imagined. Much of this is thanks to Anthony who was a freakin’ blast.

For anyone thinking that ballroom dancing is only for married old folks, I can assure you that’s not the case. I was actually surprised how diverse the crowd was that night, most people having come alone or with a friend. And if the foxtrot isn’t your thing, SHDA has plenty of other dances to choose from with open lessons going on all the time, Monday-Saturday at both their Society Hill and (409 S. Second St.) and Manayunk (4401 Cresson St.) locations.

Should you be looking to extend you Valentine’s Day celebrations, the academy is hosting its annual “Twisted Love” V-Day party tonight at 8 p.m. Open to couples and singles alike, the first half of the evening is a free-for-all dance party during which guests will each be given dance cards with ten slots. The only way to fill your card is to find ten different dancing partners. After that, everyone will partake in a social ease lesson designed for dancers of all levels.

Like all of SHDA’s open lessons, admission is just $10 dollars at the door and you are free to bring your own food and drink or enjoy their complimentary “love potions.” I’m not sure what exactly these “love potions” contain, but given that 13 couples have now met at the academy and gone on to get married, it appears to be quite strong.

So who knows—maybe you’ll be lucky number 14.

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