Latin and Ballroom Dance Classes in Bristol
What you need to know:
- No experience needed or expected
- Come on your own or with a partner
- Casual dress, normal shoes are fine
- No booking or registration
- Only pay for the classes you attend
- Pay £7 (£6.50 concs) per person as you arrive
- Anyone can dance, and at any age
When can I start?
We run Beginners Classes that start around the same time as schools in September, January and Easter time and run for around twelve weeks. Please join classes within three weeks of the start date.
We post the actual start dates or venues in the Upcoming Events, below, about a month before the classes begin. Until then, please Join Our E-Mailing List so we can send you the dates as soon as we have them.
If you have experience, contact us so we can point you to the most appropriate class today.
Why should you come?
- Dancing is good fun and a healthy activity
- Meet lots of people in a friendly environment
- We teach levels from beginner to experienced
- You can continue learning with us for years
- Dancing is a skill to last a lifetime
- You get more variety with a selection of dance styles
- You won’t know how much fun dancing is until you try it.
More than a Night ClassIf you look at the photos, videos and testimonials on the site, you will see that this is more than a night class. Dancing is something people do for the enjoyment of it. You can learn to dance and we’d love to teach you.
- Get new term dates and info
- No obligation
- Can unsubscribe any time
- We won’t pass on your details
- No junk mailings
- About two mailings per term
- View the Mailing Archive
- Get reminders of events
- Tidbits of Strictly news
- An easy way to keep in touch
- Other dance related things
Bristol Dance Experience based on 46 user reviews
Reviewed by Francis Radice,
19 July 2017
If you're at all interested in learning to do proper ball-room and Latin American dance steps, however young or old you are, go to Eric's Bristol Dance Experience beginner's class. Eric is a superb teacher who wears his expertise lightly with endless good humour and energy. It doesn't matter if you haven't got anyone to go with, go on your own and you will find someone to dance with. If you're tired, you'll come to life; if you're broke pay as you go; if you lack confidence, you will gain it. Eric procedes from the easy to the difficult; from the familiar to the unfamiliar; from the slow to the fast in easy learnable movements. You will not regret it. Don't miss out on one of Bristol's greatest assets.
Reviewed by Helen Hill,
21 April 2017
Having finished our first ever Wednesday beginners term and gone from complete beginners to having confidence to attend a dance, we are looking forward to starting an improvers course next week. Eric is fun, entertaining and has lots of patience if you need to go over steps.
Reviewed by Andrew Wray,
18 April 2017
My partner and I have completed two terms with BDE and attended several of the Friday dances. We've made a group of friends, singles and couples, and all dance together in the classes and the Fridays.
Eric and Helia's tutoring is excellent, the music choices are fun, and the atmosphere is always enjoyable.
Reviewed by Rebecca Mills,
9 July 2017
Great fun. Been going for 6 months and learned a huge amount.
Reviewed by Viv Eaden,
3 December 2016
The classes are brilliant. The steps broken down into easily remembered chunks, lots of revision, all delivered with humour. A really enjoyable way to learn to dance - even for those that think they would never be able to do it. Highly recommended to all.
Frequently Asked Questions
Click a Frequently Asked Question below to see the answer
When can I start?
We run three terms a year which start in January, April/May and September. Each term we have one or more beginners Latin and Ballroom classes. Although one can catch up easily enough if you have missed the first few weeks, after that it is best to wait until the next term unless you’re a quick learner. If you have experience call us to discuss which class would suit you.
When and where will the next beginners class be?
We don’t make a decision about which days or which venues the beginners classes will held at until near the end of the previous term. Please join the mailing list so we can send you the times and dates as soon as they have been set.
If you do not have experience you need to go to the venue(s) where we have beginners classes, and you need to start as near as possible to the start of term which are in January, April/May and September.
I’ve danced ballet/salsa/LeRoc/etc before do I still need to go beginners
Yes, although you will probably pick up the steps at a faster rate, it is best to do the beginners to understand the fundamental ideas and principles involved. If you want to supplement the beginners by attending the improvers class as well, then that will help you progress faster, with your Latin and Ballroom dancing.
I have two left feet, is it worth me coming?
Most people can dance, they just don’t know it yet. Some people will pick things up more quickly than others. Everyone will be too busy with their own feet to notice what you are doing and you may even surprise yourself.
How should I dress to come to class?
The classes are relaxed and casual so anything you feel comfortable in is fine. Just wear comfortable clothes that you can move freely in. You can wear normal shoes, preferably ones that allow your foot to swivel on the floor.
How much does it cost?
All classes are £7 (£6.50 for concessions) per person per class. You pay at the start of each class and there is no need to book, just show up. You only pay for the classes you attend.
How long are terms?
We try to run our terms to coincide approximately with school terms so usually a term lasts twelve to fourteen weeks. We have three terms a year starting in January, April/May and September.
Do I need to have any previous experience?
No, we assume you have never danced before and know nothing. We start with the absolute basics, and most people in the class probably have no experience either so everyone is going to be finding their dancing feet at the same time.
Do I need to come with a partner?
No, our classes are popular so there are generally plenty of men and women who come without partners. During a typical class you will have the opportunity to meet and dance with many people as we encourage everyone to change partners regularly in each class. This means no one feels left out and it makes the classes very sociable and you soon get to know everyone by their first name.
Do I need to buy dance shoes?
Normal everyday shoes are fine, you do not need dedicated dance shoes to take part in classes and dances. Any type of footwear that is comfortable, in a good state of repair and allows your foot to swivel on the floor are best. You can learn in trainers, but they’re not ideal.
After a year or so some students get proper dancing shoes. Here in Bristol there are three dance shoe shops selling different makes and styles of shoes.
Holbrook’s Dance Shoes are based in Henleaze at 33-35 Southmead Road, Henleaze, Bristol, BS10 5DW on 0117 924 74 74.
Dance World in Bedminster at 52 Bedminster Parade, Bristol, BS3 4HS on 0117 953 7941.
Dancewell in Cotham at 60 Cotham Hill, Bristol BS6 6JX on 0117 973 0120. Their web site does not show ballroom shoes but they do have a small selection in the shop in Cotham.
Do I need to book ahead?
You do not need to book ahead. Just come to class and pay for each lesson as you arrive. You don’t pay for lessons you miss and there is no up front cost or commitment for a whole term. When the same class level if offered on more than one night people often go to whichever is most convenient that week.
Can I just go to a class at the nearest venue?
We strongly advise you to go to a class that reflects your past dancing experience. If you have never danced Latin and Ballroom before, it is simply not practical to turn up to a more advanced class if you are a beginner. Please come to the venue(s) where there are beginners classes, or call us if you have experience so we can direct you to the most appropriate class.
Where can I put into practice the dances I will learn?
We host weekend dances several times during term times. This is ideal for our students as everything is geared to the dances we teach in class, we always call out the type of dance that will be played and may even count you in. There are many Latin and ballroom events in and around the Bristol area which you will usually find out about once you start coming to the classes.
What sort of music do you play?
There is a wide variety of old and new music that is used for Ballroom and Latin dances. Here is a selection of music to give you an idea of what can be danced to.
What happens if I miss a class?
Don’t worry we always revise the previous week’s steps. Not many people can make it to every class and there are usually a few people each evening who missed the previous lesson.
What dances will I learn?
We teach nine of the ten international style dances in our Latin and ballroom classes. However, at the beginners level we teach four of the Latin dances (cha cha cha, rumba, jive and samba) and two of the ballroom dances (modern waltz and quickstep) plus the rhythm foxtrot. Towards the end of the first year we introduce the tango. In the second year we start the slow foxtrot and around the beginning of the third year we include the Viennese waltz. We delay the start of these dances because they are more demanding and require a level of experience.
Our salsa classes are separate to the Latin and ballroom classes. Currently we are running a reduced schedule and do not have any salsa classes available.
What actually happens in class?
We explain and demonstrate a bar or two of steps, we then walk the ladies through their steps, then the men walk through their steps. Then everyone tries it with a partner. We repeat the process ironing out problems or refining the steps and then we practice to music. Each week we review what we have done before then add more so that the dances build up.
As there are are a number of different dances we cover two different dances in each lesson, and each dance is covered for two or three weeks before we move onto the next one.
Why not watch the video of how class works on the home page.
Is there parking?
Parking differs are each venue. St Bonaventures has a large car park in front of the venue, Cairns Road church has a small car park on either side but you may need to park on the streets around it. Elmgrove Centre does not have a car park and you will have to park on the streets around it. We ask that you please show consideration to the people living around our venues and not block their drives or garages.
Is there an exam?
No, there are no tests or exams, nor do you get a certificate or qualification. You will not be forced “to perform” and everything is very relaxed and sociable. Dancing is purely for your enjoyment. It is fun to learn and is a skill for life. If you wish to take an exam we can put you in contact with organisations who organise medal tests.
How many people are in your classes?
Our classes vary in size depending on the level and other factors but beginners classes are always large with dozens of people so there is a friendly party atmosphere. It also means that no one is on show and you will end up meeting plenty of other people.
How long does it take to learn?
This isn’t a process with a definitive end. After one term you will know the basics of about seven different dances and you should feel confident enough to come along to one of our dances and dance these. We teach roughly five years worth of intermediate levels and then have an experienced class which has students who have been coming for fifteen years or more.
Do you have competitions?
We do not teach competitive dancing and are not involved with any competitions. Some of our students are involved with competitive dancing but that is not part of our classes or associated events. If you wish to take part in competitions, we can put you in contact with local DanceSport organisations.
Do I need a fake tan or leg warmers?
Definitely not, this is social dancing for normal people, and you don’t need to be a prima dona or career dancer.
Can you teach us for our wedding dance?
At the moment due to our reduced schedule we are unable to provide private/individual lessons. But we can put you in touch with people who can provide this.
However, we feel it would be far better for you to come to a term of dances than trying to cram a routine in a few lessons. Not only would it make that first dance far less nerve racking, it gives you an opportunity to start learning something you may enjoy for the rest of your lives together.
Are there any age limits on your classes?
We teach adults, but beyond that there are no specific age limits. We are pleased that there is usually a range of ages from university students through to pensioners attending our classes.
Beginners Dance Classes
We assume you don’t know anything about dancing and most students will not have any prior experience. Even if you think you have two left feet, you should easily be able to get to grips with the basic steps. The dance classes are are popular and there will be plenty of people to dance with even if you do not come with a partner. You pay for each class when you arrive so if you didn’t like it you can stop any point, but we think you will love it once you give it a try.
Latin & Ballroom Dances
The “modern” Latin and Ballroom dances that we teach started as different dance crazes in the early 20th century that were popularised and codified by people like Vernon and Irene Castle, Victor Sylvestor and Fred Astaire. These dances can be enjoyed by people of all ages and can be danced simply for social enjoyment and do not need to be danced competitively as one sees on Strictly Come Dancing or in DanceSport Competitions.
Everybody enjoys the dance classes, but there comes a time to put do what you have learned without prompting from the teacher. Being able to identify the type of dance for a piece of music, count yourself in and then remember the steps and patterns all requires a bit of practice. We provide weekend dances about once a month during term time and we have dance practice sessions two days every week during term times.