A married couple's first dance as man and wife should be refined and flawless, much like an engagement diamond or a Blu-ray copy of Porky's. Bone up on partnered prowess with today's Groupon: for $32, you get five beginner ballroom-dance classes at Bay West Ballroom in San Rafael (up to a $75 value). Classes occur Monday evenings at 8 p.m.
Bay West Ballroom's accomplished instructors impart shimmying wisdom to dance-floor fledglings in an expansive and well-equipped studio. Taught in part by Bay West Ballroom director Mark Nelson-Novak, beginner classes focus on a different choreographed specialty every two to three weeks. Partners absorb the basics of social traditions such as the lively Viennese waltz, flavorful samba, and hip-swinging merengue. Bay West Ballroom's thoroughly mirrored workspace invites students to observe the one-hour class from a number of angles, further ingraining vital steps into the mind's eye and rendering opportunities to write "hi" in breath-fog.
Bay West Ballroom
At Bay West Ballroom, students learn how to tango alongside their identical twin, whether they were actually born with one or not. The studio's eastern wall of mirrors stretches for 60 feet, ensuring that students’ reflections are always visible as they spin on the sprung beech-wood floor. On the opposite side, windows admit sunlight and scenic views of the hills, creating an ethereal space where seasoned instructors demonstrate ballroom, Latin, and swing dance styles. Drawing from a diverse curriculum, these instructors cover a broad spectrum of disciplines that range from the cha-cha to the country two-step, encouraging practice in both the classroom and social settings. For example, lessons on popular salsa steps prepare pupils to spin at nightclubs, and wedding courses customize choreography to match a chosen song at elegant receptions.
Directors Mark and Andrea Nelson-Novak have both earned championship titles, and Andrea draws on a degree in biology to better inform her protégés on anatomy, movement, and the location of the body’s rhythm glands. The pair enlists other experts—including US Country and Swing Champion Tony Gutsch and Grand National Latin Finalists Dima and Olga Sukachov—to helm specialized and regular classes. The team also hosts holiday parties each year.