Finding a Good Studio ...

 

Finding a good ballroom studio can sometimes be a challenge.There have been warnings in the past from the Better Business Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission regarding Dance Studios that prey on lonely men and women. You are wise to be careful. Here are some tips for finding a good ballroom studio:

 

  • "Chain" studios (i.e., Arthur Murray & Fred Astaire) may have highly qualified instruction, but they can also be quite expensive mandating long-term contracts.

  • Always check the Better Business Bureau rating for a studio before you decide to utilize it.

  • Most studios will not mind you coming in to observe lessons. This is a good way to get a feel for the different instructors before you commit to one.

  • Independent studios often offer "pay-as-you-go" with no long term contracts. If possible, this is the preferable way to go.

  • Some studios use high-pressure sales tactics to entice customers to buy expensive blocks of lessons. Walk away.

  • Some studios frown on you taking coaching from anyone not affiliated with the studio. Walk away.

  • Decide ahead of time what your dance budget is. Otherwise, it's easy to sometimes be tempted into spending far more than you intended. For example, most studios regularly offer students a chance to perform in Studio "Showcase" performances. Realize that your participation will inevitably require additional lessons as well as a possible "performance fee" and money for a costume. Don't be afraid to ask what something will cost.

  • Ask what the studio policy is regarding practice time. Some studios offer free practice time provided you're taking lessons with them. Other studios offer memberships or provide a way to pay for practice time.

  • Some studio dance floors are nothing more than wood paneling on top of a concrete floor. Try to find a studio with a "floating" wood floor - floating wooden dance floors slightly "give" when you put your foot down and are much easier on the feet and knees.

  • Check out the studio "parties" to see if it's what you're looking for. Most studios offer regular "practice parties" for students to social dance. Visit one or two parties as they can vary widely from studio to studio. Some studios offer more of a nightclub atmosphere with loud music and flashing lights while others cater to more of a ballroom atmosphere similar to what you would encounter in Europe. The floor may be so crowded that it's difficult to dance.

  • Check out the credentials of the staff instructors. Studios often have "instructors-in-training" which may be fine for newcomer dancers. But if you're interested in advanced instruction, what are the credentials of the instructors?

  • Look for a studio that brings in visiting coaches on a regular basis.

  • Observe interactions between the studio instructors on the floor. Do they treat each other with respect and courtesy? If not, that's not a good sign.

  • Good studio instructors are respectful and mindful of others on the floor at the same time. Beware a studio where instructor(s) hog the floor or play the music so loud that it disturbs others having lessons or practicing. Good etiquette by the instructors is paramount.

  • Ask other students what they like and don't like about the studio. Different people have different needs and desires - what you desire in a ballroom studio may be quite different from someone else.

  • Advanced dancers practicing in the studio is a good sign.

  • Some studios cater more to social dancing and others cater more to competitive dancing. Some studios offer both.Look for one that meets your needs.

  • Remember - it's your money and you should have the freedom to spend it as you wish.