The April Follies competition includes a host of different dance styles, and for new dancers it can be challenging to decide which to learn! Below are some brief descriptions to help you figure out what appeals to you most. Still stumped? Feel free to contact the April Follies Planning Committee at or 510-904-0411 for further guidance.

International Standard
When you imagine ballroom dancing, International Standard is the style that most likely comes to mind: sweeping ball gowns, bowties and tails. Very formal and elegant.  With steps that date back hundreds of years to the royal courts of Europe, this is ballroom’s oldest style. The competition includes five dances: waltz, tango, Viennese waltz, foxtrot and quickstep. All five must be danced in the “closed position,” meaning that partners must remain in contact at all times – in contrast to their American Smooth counterparts, who are allowed to separate and rejoin while performing many of the same steps.  Find an International Standard instructor!

American Smooth
Picture Fred and Ginger gliding across the screen in perfect unison. This is American Smooth. Adapted in America from the traditional standard dances of Europe, American Smooth includes four dances: waltz, tango, foxtrot and Viennese waltz. While the Standard dancers must remain in contact throughout, American Smooth couples are allowed to separate, and even perform solo moves. This “open hold” gives them more creative freedom and leads to a distinctly different kind of expression than is seen in the International Standard style. Find an American Smooth instructor!

International Latin
Super-speedy footwork, provocative moves and sexy costumes define this sizzling style. The couples perform five dances – cha-cha, samba, rumba, paso doble and jive – each one in its own way reflecting the timeless dance of seduction between two people. The fiercely competitive Latin couples attract the judges’ attention with flamboyant hair and makeup, dazzling accessories, and brightly colored costumes, alight with rhinestones. Find an International Latin instructor!


American Rhythm
The dances in the American Rhythm division consist of the cha-cha, rumba, swing, bolero and mambo. With the exception of swing, which started in America, these sultry dances originated in Africa and Cuba. While American Rhythm is closely related to International Latin, the hip and leg action of the two styles is slightly different, resulting in what some call a more “grounded” look in American Rhythm. This is the only division in which the mambo, bolero and swing are danced competitively. Find an American Rhythm instructor!

See America’s Ballroom Challenge for more information about specific International and American style dances.


Social and Country Western DancesAF2016_1940
At April Follies, these categories contain salsa, west coast swing, east coast swing, nightclub two-step, country western two-step and country western waltz.  These are popular dances which are often danced in social venues around town, in addition to dance studios. They range from fast and flirty – like salsa, east coast swing and country western two-step and waltz – to slow and swanky or romantic – like west coast swing and nightclub two-step. Find a social or country western dance instructor!

Argentine Tangoapril-follies021
Argentine tango relies heavily on improvisation; although certain patterns of movement have been codified by instructors over the years as a device to instruct dancers, there is a “basic step” called “basico”.  Argentine tango is danced in an embrace that can vary from very open, in which leader and follower connect at arms length, to very closed, in which the connection is chest-to-chest, or anywhere in between. This dance is essentially walking with a partner and the music. Dancing appropriately to the emotion and speed of a tango is extremely important in this style, and a good Argentine Tango dancer is one who transmits a feeling of the music to the partner.  Find an Argentine Tango instructor!