Ballroom Dancing to Modern Pop

Ballroom Dancing to Modern Pop

Though ballroom dancing is a little more popular today than it was just a few years ago, most venues still stick to classic styles of music to put people on the dance floor. Big Band Swing plays at jitterbug clubs, Latin brass plays for the tango and if anyone today actually waltzes, they waltz to old string arrangements. The funny thing is that there's no real reason why people couldn't perform classic ballroom dances to modern pop songs. After all, the steps just match to a particular rhythm. Given the right beat or progression, a ballroom dance is possible. Here are a few examples of modern pop songs that lend themselves to old dances.

2:1 by Elastica

Elastica was one of the most memorable Brit Rock bands of the 90's thanks to their hit, self-titled debut album. It scored a string of popular singles, many of them more danceable than the fast, heavy songs played by their contemporaries. One track in particular, "2:1", practically begs its listeners to dance to it with a rose in their teeth. It has a classic Latin beat, best suited to a sultry tango or a cheeky rumba, especially with that plucky guitar riff and hopping bass line.


Hide and Seek by Imogen Heap

This song from Imogen Heap's breakthrough 2005 album Speak For Yourself has no percussion in it, though that's not to say it doesn't have a steady rhythm. It's soft, fluttering, slow and emotionally intense. Though the Viennese waltz is commonly associated with fussy evening wear and uptight music from the 18th century, there's no reason a modern interpretation of the dance couldn't work with "Hide and Seek". It's already a slow dance favorite at night clubs, so making the dancing a little more formal wouldn't be a big change.


Fake Plastic Trees by Radiohead

Symphony orchestras and ballet go hand-in-hand, but that's more of an old convention than an absolute necessity. This beautiful, melancholy song off of The Bends has a small strings section behind its guitar parts and organ-like keyboard work, so it's not entirely divorced from classical styles. A small ballet routine set to "Fake Plastic Trees" would be heartbreaking and gorgeous. For further proof, see Christopher O'Riley's haunting piano cover.


Horchata by Vampire Weekend

They say the meregue is a dance for anyone who can walk. Its basic consists of just two steps, more or less just marching in place, though that simplicity is a little deceptive. This looseness demands a certain amount of economical fluidity in a dance, as well as a fun, summery song to motivate the feet. "Horchata" from Vampire Weekend's Contra plugs into the easy, tropical beats that drove early merengue but still sounds modern enough to fit in the set list at one of today's clubs.