There are groups running drop-in classes, courses and social dances in various styles in and around Reading. Classes generally run weekly. Courses are series of classes where they start with the basics and build up week by week (so you need to start at the beginning of the course). Drop-in classes are where you can start any time - they often have beginners' lessons earlier in the evening with more advanced lessons later. Many have social dancing at the end of the evening after the lesson(s). Levels of difficulty/competence are often described as beginners, improvers, intermediate and advanced.
Most dance forms are partnered dances, although you usually don't need to take a partner and even if you go as a couple to a lesson the teachers usually ask people to change partners so everybody gets to practice with everybody else. Most dance forms also have leader and follower roles which are generally assigned to men and women. Where there is an imbalance in numbers what usually happens is that surplus men or women take turns standing by while other couples practice a move, and then as participants change partners those waiting re-join and others have to wait a turn. Sometimes surplus participants will practice a move on their own (with an imaginary partner) until they move on to the next real partner. Sometimes, if there are more women than men, some women will take leader roles to balance the numbers. It is less common for extra men to take follower roles although in some social dances men will dance with other men as well as women with other women.
There are also solo dances (such as taught at Reading Swing Jam's Jazz / Charleston classes) which can be performed by a group ensemble, or by pairs or groups improvising and responding to each others' moves.
Organisers of partnered dances generally encourage participants to observe good personal hygiene! Take a bath or shower beforehand, use deodorant if necessary, brush your teeth etc. For all dance forms it's advisable to take water to drink, and possibly a towel and/or a fan in all but the coldest weather: dancing is exercise and you can get quite warm.
Fun Fact There is some scientific evidence that dance may improve brain health, reduce risk of dementia, improve mood and certain cognitive skills such as visual recognition and decision-making, reduce stress and help develop new neural connections, especially in regions involved in executive function, long-term memory, and spatial recognition, and even to be therapeutic for patients with Parkinson’s disease.
- 1 Bachata & Kizomba
- 2 Ballroom
- 3 Capoeira
- 4 Five Rhythms
- 5 Folk
- 6 Salsa
- 7 Cuban Salsa / La Rueda
- 8 Swing
- 9 Tango
- 10 others
Bachata & Kizomba
Capoeira classes run at St Lukes church hall, Erleigh Rd, on Tuesday evenings.
There don't seem to be any ceilidhs running in Reading; the nearest seem to be those run by Oxfolk in Oxford.
Kennet Morris Men dance mainly Cotswold style Morris. During the winter months they practice in Shinfield (just South of the M4 Black Boy) and dance during the Summer months: May to September.
Reading St Andrews Scottish Dancing Society runs courses (at St Andrews United Reformed church on London Rd opposite Eldon Square) and socials and ceilidhs.
There are various styles of Salsa and different classes teaching them and social dances centred around them.
Red Hat Salsa run drop-in classes at different levels followed by social dancing upstairs at RISC, weekly on Tuesdays and monthly on Saturdays They say you can get your first and 4th lesson half price and 10th lesson free - these aren't advertised at the venue.
Salsa Bachata Social Club
Reading University Dance Club (aka Ballroom, Latin and Salsa Society) runs Salsa classes on Thursdays at Wessex hall. They have a YouTube channel. First lesson is free: tell them at the door that you're new.
Cuban Salsa / La Rueda
La Rueda / Rueda de Casino is danced in pairs in a circle. Moves are called out: they have names in Spanish (although the names don't necessarily have obvious meanings, e.g. dile que no means tell her "no"). Many of the moves involve changing partners around the circle. This video shows examples.
Rising Sun Arts Centre
Charleston, Jazz, Lindy Hop, Balboa, Jive etc
Reading Vintage Swing Dance Scene
The Reading Vintage Swing Dance Scene website ("For all things swing dance related in Reading") describes the evolution of different types of Swing dance, lists classes (with a Google calendar), events, bands, venues (including some non-dance places), retailers of vintage clotes etc, and more.
All Jazzed Up
Ceroc is a Jive dance with simplified footwork making it easy to learn, and also the proprietary trade name of the organisations running lessons and dances. Ceroc Thames Valley runs drop-in classes in Wokingham and Twyford and Ceroc Newbury in Newbury.
Reading Swing Jam
Reading University Swing Dance Society
Jive Cats run classes in Caversham, Woodley and elsewhere.
The Silver Heels Band plays at Global Cafe on the 3rd Thursday of each month (with breaks in the summer and at Christmas/New Year). Cafe Zazous also play every other month, music in a Django Reinhard French cafe Jazz genre, also on Thursdays. Both usually attract Balboa, Lindy etc dancers.
Milongas are Tango social dances.
Berkshire Tango Club
The Berkshire Argentine Tango Club (note web page plays unsolicited audio) runs classes in Caversham and Woodley.
Reading Tango Club
Reading Tango Club runs classes at St Luke's Hall in Erleigh Rd, and Milonga socials.
Rising Sun Arts Centre
The Rising Sun runs drop-in classes on Thursday evenings.
- Folk - French, Greek etc?