Arthur Murray Dance Studio has been a leading name in franchise dance since 1912, when the entrepreneur began selling mail-order dance lessons. Expanding his reach, he enlisted teachers to spread his signature dance lessons on first-class steamships and skyrocketed to fame in the '30s after introducing the public to such dances as the Lambeth Walk and the Big Apple. By the 1950s, Arthur and his wife, Kathryn, were hosting their own highly popular TV show on ABC, the Arthur Murray Dance Party, which ran for 12 years. Today, Arthur Murray's team prepares students for rug cutting at special events and weekend nightclub jaunts. Clients who arrive to lessons partnerless will be paired up with other classmates as the instructors assess their current skill level and make recommendations on the most appropriate program. Throughout lessons, instructors teach the foundations of two to four dances from a long list of styles that range from Latin to country-western, helping students to learn basic step patterns, timing, and the ability to lead or follow.
The consortium of professional instructors at Fred Astaire Dance Studios, which was cofounded by the legendary toe tapper himself, shepherds students of all ages and skill levels through lessons that span the style spectrum. Low-pressure private sessions allow enthusiastic teachers to fine-tune individual students' techniques and form, using their expert eyes and mechanical dancing shoes preprogrammed to do the Charleston. Patrons can learn how to cavort through classic waltz and fox-trot romps or swivel through the modern steps of salsa, swing, or samba. For dancers hoping to hoof it up in a social setting, the group practice parties provide a one-night extravaganza of instruction, demonstrations, and amateur firewalking.
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The merry mariners at H. P. Kayak & Boat Rentals provide prospective paddlers with a fleet of colorful crafts to explore the Connecticut River. Before your two-hour tour, choose to fly solo in a single-person kayak (a $30 value) or tote along co-pilots in a rowboat (a $35 value), dual-passenger kayak (a $35 value), or two-person canoe (a $35 value). Then push off shore and seize the open water, where you'll behold a real-life viewfinder's worth of scenic wildlife, including eagles and Frisbees, while advancing oarsmanship, teambuilding skills, and general awareness of water.
Although most of Fun and Fit's classes center around Zumba, they still have plenty of variety. Zumba-toning, for example, combines maraca-like sticks with Latin dance moves to reduce fat, sculpt torsos, and calibrate the brain's metronome. Participants new to Zumba can acclimate themselves in the hip-swinging Beginners class, while Zumba Kids caters to students aged 4–12 with hip-hop music and choreography designed specifically for kids.
The Play Escape entertains kids with three stories of ball pits, oversize slides, climbing areas, and other attractions. With all-access admission (up to a $15.90 value), two sprinting younglings can spend the day racing over colorful obstacles and tossing their 20 tokens (a $5 value) into Dance Dance Revolution machines or the 100-point skee-ball holes, which are rumored to grant wishes and federal funding.