10 Most Romantic Dances Of All Time — From Ballroom To Salsa

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10 Most Romantic Dances Of All Time From Ballroom to Salsa
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April 29 is International Dance Day. To celebrate, we’ve put together a list of the 10 most romantic dances of all time. Since dance is a form of expression, it’s also a great way to feel that romantic connection with your partner. 

International Dance Day is also the birthday of Jean-Georges Noverre, the French dancer who’s credited with coming up with the precursor to 19th-century ballets. The day was founded by the International Theatre Institute. It’s celebrated with festivals and dance events around the world each year. 

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The 10 Most Romantic Dances

1. Waltz

The waltz is one of the most iconic dances ever performed, and most people are familiar with it, even if they don’t know the variants or steps. There are many kinds from different cultures in separate parts of the globe. Just a few examples are the Contra Waltz, the International Standard Waltz, the Peruvian Waltz, the Cajun Waltz, and the Viennese Waltz. 

The waltz involves a couple embracing in what most onlookers would observe as the “classical” dance position, with hands clasped and torsos facing one another. 

2. Bolero

Bolero is a Spanish dance that’s rhythmic and slow. It can be a solo dance, but partners are encouraged. It blossomed into a ballroom dance across Spain and many musical compositions were created to accompany it, like Maurice Ravel’s famous “Bolero.” 

3. Foxtrot

The foxtrot is a similar dance to the waltz, except that it’s performed in 4/4 time, instead of 3/4. It often goes with big band music, and was extremely popular in the 1930s. The foxtrot premiered in 1914 and has several claims as to its origins. Some say it was developed by Black dancers in segregated clubs years before it gained popularity in mainstream dance culture. 

4. Tango

Tango is a dance with a wide range of eclectic roots. It comes from the Rio de la Plata, between Argentina and Uruguay. Because of this, no one has ever figured out where the word “tango” originated. There are many theories and possible explanations, but one has ever been settled on. 

Tango has a number of styles that have been influenced by cultures around the world. It’s been featured in countless movies and other media as the choreography of passion between two people. Raul Julia and Anjelica Huston even burn through the floor performing the dance in “Addams Family Values.” 

5. Rhumba

Rhumba is a partner dance that took hold in the U.S. in the 1930s. It’s a traditional ballroom dance that’s different from Cuban rumba, and other dances that the word “rumba,” minus the “h,” can refer to. 

In the beginning, rhumba referred to many different styles of latin music that one could dance to. The dance evolved into two separate step patterns, a box step and an International style. Rhumba is now a dance one sees everywhere in ballroom competitions and on TV. 

6. Bachata

Bachata is a dance from the Dominican Republic, created to dance to the musical style also called bachata. There are three separate positions to bachata, and they generally depend on the music currently being played. This social dance is performed with an 8-count and creates a square pattern. 

Variations of bachata since the 90s have fused several styles of dance together to create some interesting combinations for partners to explore. If you’ve tried it all, then check out the bachatango, moderna, sensual bachata, or ballroom style. 

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7. Kizomba

Kizomba is a dance from Angola. It has its beginnings in several influences from 1970s Africa, in dances like Kilapanga and Semba. Kizomba is danced to a sharp but slow and consistent beat, and partners grasp one another closely while the steps involve sensual movements of the hips. 

8. Merengue

Merengue is a fast-paced dance with frenetic movements that keeps its participants having fun the whole way through. It’s the national dance of the Dominican Republic. This one is for partners who like to have a lot of fun together

In dance clubs where LatinX music can be found, people will be dancing the merengue. It’s a hugely popular dance with a lot of opportunities for practice. 

9. Cha-cha

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The cha-cha is a Cuban dance named for the sound the feet make during the quick steps on the fourth count. It’s a partner dance that slips somewhere between the traditional European ballroom styles and the faster-paced steps like those found in merengue. 

Hip movements are achieved through bending and straightening the knees in one variety. There are separate ballroom versions of cha-cha, though traditionally it's danced to Cuban music. 

10. Salsa

Salsa is a Latin dance with a variety of origins and contributing cultures. It comes from the 1960s and 70s, borne out of the melting pot of people and dances in New York City. Salsa is extremely popular, and you’re bound to find yourself and your partner moving to the steps at some point in your dance life. 

It’s wildly rhythmic and cooperative, involving spins, solo breaks, and more. A lot of steps can be acrobatic, but the extent you and your partner go to depends on individual comfort level, and there’s a lot of material to choose from here. Salsa is a favorite partner dance around the world, and the intimate movements and cooperation make it the perfect date night activity for most anyone. 

Bonus: Paso Doble

Paso Doble is a fierce and unrelenting partner dance that pits partners against each other in dramatic fashion. It mimics the encounter between a matador and a bull. One partner leads, but the other partner is equally unrelenting, at least to the outside observer. 

Perhaps not the most accessible dance for all partners to jump into right away, it makes for quite a show for those watching.

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The rest of these, though, are the top choices for romantic partners the world over. So grab your partner, get close, get coordinated, and have fun getting as wild or sensual and slow as you'd like. 

Kevin Lankes, MFA, is an editor and author. His fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Here Comes Everyone, Pigeon Pages, Owl Hollow Press, The Huffington Post, The Riverdale Press, and more.