You can take lots of dance lessons from the best, practice diligently as you are supposed to do, but without social dance with multiple partners you will never be able to master dance.
A lot of people take dance lessons in order to dance and it ends up being all that they do. They claim business, schedule conflicts, or one of a myriad number of excuses. Dance, and specifically partner dance, is great exercise for sure, and I cannot think of anything better that I would rather do. But, you will never improve if you don’t go out social dancing too.
Hey! You may not care about it, and be one of those with an exclusive partner. You are content with dancing only with your partner, and what you learn in class is sufficient for you. If that’s your plan good for you. Time to skip to another article. But, if you wish to dance well with others, or at least really know how to lead/follow, then social dancing is a must for you.
Social dancing is real world practice of what you learn. It is only when you dance with others unknown that you figure out if what you have learnt in class can be really lead, or there is something that could be expressed better. As a follower can you really follow, or are you just working off pre-existing knowledge of what moves the leaders will do? What trips you up, or can you make a better follower? This investigation then translates to figuring out the corrections in class, and ultimately better dancing back at home base.
Then on the other side of the spectrum are those who just go out social dancing and have never taken a lesson in their life – other than the free survival/intro lesson sometimes offered at the beginning of a dance! They are in it for the fun and/or the exercise. But, what one learns in an intro. survival lesson is no substitute for breaking down more than just the basic 3 or 4 survival moves. In a regular group or private class setting someone else can help you make your lead clearer, or better able to clue in what to do and see as a follower. Increasing your dance vocabulary and making sure that it (dance moves) is well defined helps you have a better conversation on the dance floor with all your partners. According to past students who have come in with pre-existing social dance experience it exponentially increases everyone’s enjoyment.
So, whether you start out with social dance or dance classes both are required for a person to master dance. Dance classes are held in a variety of settings from universities to studios and clubs. All three usually provide opportunities for social dance as well. This is an easier way to dance and learn as usually you will have familiarity with the participants or crowd. If you have already done this then the next step would be to go beyond that “comfort” zone to totally new venues – and that is the ultimate test!