Arthur Murray 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 instructors, then 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 Ballroom and social to salsa, helping students to learn basic step patterns, timing, and the ability to lead or follow. The Columbus studio is owned by Michael Neyer, a former Arthur Murray Professional Dance Champion with over 35 years of experience as an Arthur Murray instructor.
As competitive ballroom dancers and coaches of the ballroom dance team at Ohio State University, Alex Thomas and Josh Tilford believe any person can reach their dance goals in the right program. Together, they own and run Dance Tonight, whose network includes group and private instruction of myriad dance styles such as waltz, tango, foxtrot, quickstep, and swing. Lessons can help even the slowest at foot become confident in their step as they absorb basic dance knowledge, prepare for special events, or escalate to amateur ballroom competitor status. The adult instruction is also supplemented by an extensive children's program, directed by professional instructor Danielle Moor.
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.