Finding Your Dance Confidence – Tips for Inexperienced Dancers

couple ballroom

How do you usually describe dance confidence? You might define it as the self-confidence that you feel when dancing or your belief in your own dancing abilities. You can gain dance confidence by joining a supportive community, having positive dancing experiences, and having excellent health.

Throughout your dance career, different things will affect your dance confidence: how you connect with music and the environment. Other things that might affect your dance confidence include your relationship with your dancing partner, overall mood, and physical condition. In most instances, an experienced dancer will be more confident than an amateur will because he has faced many obstacles.

You can use the following tips to boost your dance confidence:

Improve Your Skills

The more you work on your dance skills, the more natural confidence you will cultivate. As you get better at dancing, your classes will become easier and you will understand the music effortlessly. Once you start making all this progress, your confidence will grow drastically.

The harder you work, the more your confidence will grow. Winning first place or being chosen to lead a dance group should not be the ultimate goal; your goal should be to improve your skills and win all your battles. If you trust yourself and work hard, you will find that very few things can shake your confidence.

Play the Part

You do not have to be very confident as an individual to gain confidence as a dancer. Most people are battling insecurities in their lives, which leaves them feeling unconfident. When you are on the stage, you can forget all your insecurities for a while and play the part of whomever you want.

In fact, you need to listen to the music and let your mind absorb the message as you dance. Ask yourself what message the song is trying to convey and how you can communicate it. When you adopt a specific role, it will be easier for you to perform with the posture, mannerisms, and facial expressions required.

Learn to Accept Mistakes

You should look at any mistake that you make as a blessing in disguise. As soon as you err, you should take some time to figure out what went wrong and how you can prevent it from happening again. If you approach your challenges in dance with such a mindset, you will have very little to fear.

In fact, having an open mindset allows you to learn and grow along the way. The next time you err during a routine, you should not beat yourself up about it. You should use that mistake to mold yourself into a better dancer.

However, you should understand that confidence does not mean that you are unbeatable. It just means that you will not allow the fear of making mistakes to ruin your dancing.

Work on Your Posture

If you want to be able to execute another person’s choreography with unwavering confidence, you should work on your posture. The right posture is not about putting your chin up and puffing up your chest; it is about choosing the character that you would like to portray in a dance piece. Your confidence will vary depending on the context – for instance, some dance styles will require you to stand tall and put your shoulders back.

Finding the right posture for a piece will allow you to capture its mood, which will make you seem more confident as a dancer. Having a good posture is important for your health because it helps you to avoid back problems later in life.

Strive for Uniqueness

The best thing about the art of dancing is that there is no right or wrong way to do things. Of course, you will have to handle the technical parts of dancing, but if you are developing your own personal style, the sky is the limit. Whether you are doing a choreographed routine or free styling, you need to show your originality by personalizing the moves and wearing the right apparel.

You need to work on your unique style if you want to go far in your dancing career. Copying other dancers’ routines will make your performance feel like a watered-down style. Moreover, it will make you seem unoriginal and boring, which will be bad for your growth as a dancer.

Instead of donning what everyone else is wearing or emulating your idol, you should wear distinctive dance clothes. If you are wondering where to order costumes for dancers, you should do some research online to find the best online stores.

Stop Comparing Yourself to Others


Ballroom dance

For a beginner, it will be easy to compare yourself to other dancers in your class. However, doing so will make you feel bad about yourself, especially if there is a better dancer in your class. What you need to remember is that people are different and we all learn at different paces, which means that it might take longer for you to perfect some dance moves.

Instead of wasting time making comparisons, you should practice as much as you can in your free time. Doing so will improve your confidence over time as you achieve your goals.

The above tips will help you to improve your confidence as a dancer. It is normal for an amateur dancer to struggle with confidence, especially when you look at the more accomplished dancers. However, you should know that even the best dancers were once amateurs.  

Oh These Little Things!

Fibi is upset

Planning a wedding is hectic. This is why there are wedding planners. However, I know that there are some brides out there that just can’t quite squeeze a planner into their budget. Obviously, most brides know what needs to be booked, who has to get paid, and what needs to be ordered. Through all of this chaos, there are crazy important smaller details that always get overlooked.

Transportation. Seems like the simplest thing; yet is always the most stressful part the day of. Everyone wants that party bus with awesome lights or the 40 foot limo. Remember there are 50 something other venues out there with Brides getting married the exact same day. Book your transportation early. When booking your transportation be sure to have an accurate timeline for your driver and be sure to ask for your driver’s name and contact information. If you have multiple drivers for mom, dad, and grandparents. Be sure to really have your ducks in a row.

ducks pushed away

Music. Specifically, the ceremony music. If you have a pianist or harpist no need to worry! If you have a DJ, double-check when they actually start DJ-ing. If you do not have someone playing/dj-ing music for your ceremony and you are using your own music, make sure someone you trust is there to push play! Double triple check you have the right playlist if you are using your phone. I always recommend not using Spotify. Spotify is great for when you are jamming out before you say “I do” not so much for your ceremony. It is highly dependent on Wi-Fi and the buttons can be glitchy. Best bet is to purchase the songs and use a playlist created on iTunes.

Now, not everybody does the whole cake thing. But for those of you that have decided on that 6-layered cake, it’s time to think about who will cut it. Cake companies normally will just come and just drop off your beautiful cake correcting any damages it may have gotten on its field trip to your venue. Through experience, do not pick a family member to cut your cake. Trust me, you do not want that aunt or grandma cutting cake for an hour. Let them enjoy eating not serving it. A simple solution is to ask your caterer to cut your cake. There will most likely be a fee, but please just go for it. Your caterer is a professional and they will get the job done and everyone will be happy. I have actually witnessed a groomsman (after a few drinks) cut the wedding cake… was not pretty.

Cake falling over
Cake Time!

In the end, you do not want these little items stressing you out on your special day. Double check your driver has all your details and is where he/she needs to be. Organize the music for your ceremony. Either go professional or DIY. With DIY be sure to have everything very simple and with someone you trust. And finally let the caterer cut your cake. It will save you the day of!

Leading vs Following: The Battle of the Dancers

tango dancer's legs


“It’s always easier to dance with a good lead” “Well, I can do my part fully if I have a good follower.”

It is time to end the ongoing battle of leads and follows! The reality is that each has to be helping the other and both parts are equally hard in their own way. Leaders need to focus on connecting and leading in the right direction, not the left, (dance pun, hehe). Followers must relinquish control and let their leader take them to the next step. If you and your partner happen to be learning together, PLEASE don’t tell your partner how much easier it is to dance with your instructor, because duh, of course it’s easier! That’s like saying it’s easier to sing with auto tune, bowl with the bumpers, or ride a bike with training wheels. Dancing with someone more experienced may be easier but isn’t the point: you’re here to learn how to dance together!

When leaders learn to dance they need to be aware of their own part! I know that this seems counter-productive because you came to dance with a partner, but you won’t do them any justice if you are not sure enough to give the follower the correct signals to do their steps. This should not be confused with forcing your follower to do something but instead giving her clear directions on what you want and then allow it to happen. If you don’t give clear signals you make the followers part that much harder. And the essential role of the leader is to give their partner a fun dance.

When followers are learning to dance, they have to at least learn specific patterns. Some leaders think they can be good enough to drag you through it. But come on followers, who wants that? It’s the leader’s job to let you know when you are going into a certain move, but it’s up to you as soon as he leads that underarm turn, to finish the job. As a follower, you have to release any thoughts or hesitations on which move you think your leader may do next. This is not the time to practice your psychic abilities! The best way to be a follower is to practice your steps on your own, and do a lot of social dancing, where every leader will feel different.

Whether you are a leader or a follower, learning to dance can be challenging. The leader has to be clear and confident in the directions that they give, and the follower has to give up control and be receptive to the lead’s movements. The good news is both leaders and followers can make it easier for each other, and have a good dance with each other, which is the whole purpose of social dancing!

No seating arrangement? You’ve got a problem.

Three Styled Seating Charts
Seating charts can fit with any wedding style!

There are a plethora of decisions to make while planning a wedding. Finding the perfect venue, caterer, planner, bridesmaids, ring bearers, theme, flowers, decorations, oh and don’t forget about the dress. As a wedding planner and event coordinator, I believe that the perfect wedding is possible with all of the above. BUT, you cannot have the perfect wedding without spending the time to make a seating chart. Do you really want your extremely conservative grandmother sitting next to your loose-lipped drunk roommate from college? It could make for a good story down the road, but will probably cause unnecessary chaos during one of your special days. Seating arrangements solve very simple issues that no one really thinks about; guest want to feel organized – even if they don’t know it. In the end, it reduces stress all around.

For your guests, seating charts will simplify the experience of deciding where to sit and who to sit with/next to. I have watched this situation unfold time and time again: your guests arrive unsure if there is a seating chart, wait about 10 minutes, come get a drink, set their belongings down somewhere, realize their family and/or friends will not fit at the chosen table, and be forced to move elsewhere (after already messing up the napkin and spilling on the table). Just writing this list gives me a headache from uncertainty. Friends and family members should feel relaxed; a simple chart placed at the entryway of your reception will solve this. Plus you or your planner can get super creative with how you show people to their tables!

KP Seating Chart
In this inventive display from KP Event Design, the seating chart doubles as chic decoration

Dinner without organized seating can turn into a free for all. Sure, you can have the DJ announce what table to get in line for a buffet-style dinner, but there’s always that one table that breaks the line. Working an event where there were no table numbers, the DJ had to walk from table to table for the guests to go to the buffet. No seating arrangement and a served dinner? No go. The coordinator, AKA me, has to walk to each table and try to see what they ordered on their name card that they grabbed at the front. Even worse if the coordinator couldn’t see the card they have interrupted the conversation to ask what that guest had. Most of the time they don’t remember or pick something different. This ultimately delays the scheduled time for the rest of the reception.

Let’s just say you are totally not into a seating chart because this is a wedding, not the 3rd grade! Here is your plan: make sure you have a couple extra tables. Say you have 150 guests coming to your reception, and at every table is 10 people. Plan on having at least 17 tables, this will help the overflow that way guests can sit with who they want instead of having to be separated because there is 1 spot at table 3, and the other at table 7. Or even worse they make that table of 10 a table of 11. I’ve seen it go as high as 14 before and it looked very uncomfortable.

At the end of the day, you got married and get to spend the rest of your life with your partner. However, whenever I ask my couples what’s most important to them, they say “I want my guests to enjoy themselves and have a good time”. So do your family and friends a solid and organize them or spend a little extra money and get those extra overflow tables.

Resolve to Beat the ‘Winter Blues’ This Year

As I made myself breakfast today, I glanced at the outdoor thermometer. The reading of 10 degrees did not improve my mood much, although I was thankful for at least a little sunshine after so many cloudy winter days.

winter blues photoFor many people, January often means the official beginning of a depressing winter. Some of it, no doubt, has to do with that post-holiday crash, but I’m sure a lot of it is a result of some questionable dietary choices over the holiday season and a noticeable lack of sunshine.

In fact, the so-called “winter blues” are a real thing. About 5 percent of the population suffers from seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which often brings depression, irritability, sleep and appetite changes, anxiety, and other symptoms. About 10 to 15 percent more of us deal with a slightly milder version of the disorder every year.

I won’t offer any medical advice for SAD sufferers, but for the rest of us, the answer to curing those winter blues can be found in a few simple suggestions. And in the spirit of new year’s resolutions, maybe now is the perfect time to make some changes.

Change #1: Eat Your Way to Better Moods

The first step is to get your diet out of disorder. New Year’s is a popular time to commit to some new, trendy diet, but really just the simple act of getting back to your daily routine will make you feel better. Finish up (or throw out) the rest of those holiday cookies, and start eating normally again. As a dance instructor, I’m a big fan of physical health, and you are what you eat!

Because we don’t get as much daylight as we do during the summer months, we’re also missing out on the valuable vitamin D we absorb from the sun. And according to one study, about three-quarters of us don’t get enough of this “sunshine vitamin,” which is generally credited with improving overall mental health. During these shorter days, be sure to add some vitamin D-rich foods to your meals, like fatty fish (salmon, tuna, sardines), fish oils, fortified milk and eggs.

Healthy carbs also play a role in improving mood this time of year by providing the brain with a nice boost of serotonin, the chemical that makes you feel good. Popcorn, pretzels, brown rice and potatoes are all effective, without the awful sugar crash that comes from other simple carbohydrates.

Change #2: Time for a Workout You’ll Actually Enjoy

That other popular resolution – exercise – is one of the best ways to fight the winter blues and improve your mood all year long. Harvard Medical School explains why in a recent article:

“…the real value is in low-intensity exercise sustained over time. That kind of activity spurs the release of proteins called neurotrophic or growth factors, which cause nerve cells to grow and make new connections. The improvement in brain function makes you feel better.”

That means you don’t have to start running marathons or join CrossFit to start seeing some real health improvements. But with a resolution failure rate at around 80 percent, it’s more important than ever to find an exercise option that’s not only fun but allows you to explore a new activity and possibly express who you are in a new way.

In the recent article from The Washington Post entitled, “How to make a New Year’s resolution that will actually work,” the author mentions dance specifically as a way to ensure success:

Do something enjoyable. Resolutions around health and wellness can often feel depriving and boring. Consider a fun way toward better health. Add a hobby to your life to find exercise in a playful way. A dance class, new or favorite sport, rock climbing, outdoor adventures, horseback riding, snow sports, anything that seems fun and interesting. Not only is it a workout, but you can also use your brain in a new way, learn a new skill and have fun while doing it.

January will probably never be my favorite month, but with a fresh approach – and a good dance partner – we’ll all get through it together. From all of us here at Overland Park Ballroom, here’s to a year full of sunny skies and all the right steps. Happy New Year!

As a professional dance instructor and owner of Overland Park Ballroom, Amy Castro has been teaching ballroom dance for more than 25 years. What are some of your New Year’s resolutions? Let her know your thoughts by tweeting @OP_Ballroom or by commenting on the Facebook page.

The rich history (and promising future) of the ballroom

Once home to six ballrooms, Lincoln, Neb., now has just one. The Pla Mor Ballroom still stands on West O Street after more than 85 years in operation. It’s where I taught a swing dance to hundreds of people over a nine-year period back in the day. A crazy time, for sure, filled with a lot of good memories.

In fact, ballrooms have always been a bastion of community and hospitality, even if their numbers have dwindled over the decades. But ever since the boundaries between the dances of aristocracy and common folk disappeared, ballrooms became that place in towns and cities across Europe – and then the United States – where people could meet, share, support each other and – if they were lucky – fall in love.

A rich history

In this country, you’d often find a ballroom in many of the Victorian mansions that dotted the landscape, especially around the turn of the 20th century. While a parlor was used for more intimate occasions and small gatherings, you needed a much larger space if you wanted to entertain large groups or host an orchestra, for example.

“It’s hard to think of ballrooms as a necessity, but if you wanted to entertain your peers, you did it at home,” Dwight Young with the National Trust for Historic Preservation told Realtor Mag.

As the country changed and trends in residential living shifted, however, home ballrooms became less en vogue. Instead, public ballrooms thrived, especially as the newly created dances of the 1920s and beyond swept the nation and thrilled the public with their energy and independent movement.

In fact, it was around this time that another Pla-Mor Ballroom opened, this one here in Kansas City in 1927. Debuting to a crowd of 4,100, the ballroom featured a 14,000-square-foot dance floor. Jason Roe, a digital history specialist at the Kansas City Public Library, describes the scene:

“On opening night, the ballroom’s multi-colored electric lighting dazzled thousands of dancing patrons who were serenaded by the Jean Goldkette Orchestra. Dancers found an extra bounce in their step because of the 7,000 springs beneath the wooden floor that flexed up to one quarter of an inch.”

The ballroom would go on to host jazz legends like Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey, Bix Beiderbecke, Stan Kenton and Ella Fitzgerald.

Sadly, the lifespan of these incredible facilities wasn’t long. The K.C. Pla-Mor finally ceased operation in 1951 and was razed in 1972 to be replaced by a car dealership. Roe attributes the decline to “changing social mores” and urban sprawl as people moved away from the city center.

But, oh, how I wish I could have been on that dance floor in its heyday!

Hope for the future

While ballrooms have experienced the same kind of ebb and flow that affects any industry, there’s no denying the importance they played in building communities and increasing culture. They have always stood for free expression, inclusion and creativity—places where people of all backgrounds and skill levels could come together for the love of dance.

The 1993 drama, “Swing Kids,” is a great example of the draw these dance halls held. Even under the threat of Nazi imprisonment before World War II, German youths risked everything for the chance to express their rebellion against conformity through American swing.

Here at home where the stakes weren’t quite as high, dance halls and ballrooms could be found scattered throughout towns big and small, in urban and rural areas alike. In fact, the location wasn’t the most important aspect, as Gene Budde writes in The Grand Island Independent:

“Regardless of the name and size of the dance facility, most patrons were primarily interested in three things that would determine their dancing pleasure. Dancers wanted a smooth and polished floor, a good-sounding band playing music that was enjoyable to dance to, and an active but well-behaved crowd. When those things were in place, the facility’s physical appearance was a secondary consideration.”

While the Big Band era is now long gone, and many of the great old ballrooms are now closed, the same sense of community can still be found at those that remain. Our ballroom truly is a place where life happens. I’m proud we’ve created a contemporary, flexible and creative space, yet a space where people can still meet and dance and, yes, fall in love.

student proposal in Kansas City

In fact, I just heard from a gentleman preparing to propose to his girlfriend by creating a set of clues for her to follow—and one of the stops is our ballroom. He said it was the location of one of their best dates. I can’t think of a better endorsement than that!

couple with one of their best dates at OP Ballroom gets engaged

Stories like this show me the power that ballrooms and dance halls still hold. They serve as the conduit to literally bring people together around a shared interest. And in this day and age, bringing people together is always a step in the right direction.

As a professional dance instructor and owner of Overland Park Ballroom, Amy Castro has been teaching ballroom dance for more than 25 years—and would love nothing more than to introduce you to the rich history of community ballrooms! Let her know your thoughts by tweeting @OP_Ballroom or by commenting on the Facebook page!

Choosing the Best Wedding Venue is Easier than You Think

bride questions
Choosing Your Wedding Venue


Of all the endless choices you’ll make when you plan your wedding, probably one of the most important (short of choosing the right person to marry) is picking the right venue.

It’s seems simple, but the ripple effect from a good space impacts nearly everything: The right lighting means you look your best as you’re reciting your vows; good acoustics help the DJ sound better at the reception; and a convenient location means no one is annoyed because they got lost on their way to the party.

Plus, unlike the food or the best man’s toast, which you’ll likely forget not long after the honeymoon, the ceremony and reception venues will live on in every portrait and candid snapshot taken throughout the day. You’re literally going to be looking at these places for the rest of your life.

Of course, this item on your wedding planning checklist is also one of the pricier ones, so the pressure is on to choose wisely. Believe it or not, snagging a great venue is not only possible but also within your budget.


Get yourself prepared

Patio Seating, Fern
Photo credit: Catch Light Photography

The first step? Get yourself organized. I always say there are two types of people in the world: spreadsheet people and everyone else. This is one of those times you need to be a spreadsheet person. Create one and include all of the venue aspects that are important to you, like capacity, location, layout, type of facility, etc. You’re going to need an easily accessible document to keep track of the deluge of details you’re about to collect. And for those non-spreadsheet people, here’s a template you can use, courtesy of A Practical Wedding.

Next, get big-picture for a second and think about what kind of vibe you’re going for. I’ve been to black-tie weddings in ivory mansions and hipster-chic ceremonies in converted warehouses. Both equally elegant but very different tones. Kate Levy elaborates in this recent article:

“It’s usually a gut feeling and completely depends on the type of wedding you’re hoping to have. If you’re looking for a casual barbecue wedding, a historic, marble-laden hall isn’t the best fit. Or a black-tie barn wedding might not make those guests in stilettos and gowns very happy.”

Nailing down these choices from a high level is imperative before you start getting down into the details.



Don’t break the budget

Now you’re organized, but how do you keep your costs down? We host a lot of different kinds of weddings at our event space, so I’ve seen more than my fair share. Here are a few tips that may help:

  1. Make it a combo deal – Consider hosting the ceremony in the same venue as your reception. Not only will that automatically eliminate one of those to-do items, but you may be able to save some of your budget by eliminating an extra rental charge. We allow both weddings and receptions in our event space, and I can tell you that guests love the convenience of not having to drive to another location after the ceremony. Plus, the wedding party has all-day access to the facility, which includes the bride’s room and – soon to come – a special groom’s bus! We’re in the process of remodeling an airport shuttle bus to make a special hangout just for the guys.
  2. BYOF (Bring your own food) – See if the venue you’re considering allows you to bring in your own caterers and food for your guests (instead of being restricted to the venue’s choices). We allow our guests to choose their own (or we’re happy to help with our suggestions), which means you can shop around for the best deal for the type of meal you want to serve.
  3. Don’t be afraid to ask about discounts – Many venues will negotiate better rates for certain scenarios, guests counts, days of the week, etc. For example, we offer a discounted rental rate if the bridal party uses our in-house food and beverage services.

Whatever facility you choose, just be sure to provide as much detail as you can when securing your rental. That will allow the owner/operator to serve you the best—to make sure your wedding day is as stress-free and enjoyable as it possibly can be.

As for that DJ you picked, let’s just hope someone told him “no” on the Chicken Dance.


The Overland Park Ballroom offers a wide array of options for weddings of all sizes!


As a professional dance instructor and owner of Overland Park Ballroom, Amy Castro is proud to offer a unique venue for your upcoming wedding ceremony and reception. A 6,800-square foot venue with a romantic and modern style, and conveniently located in the heart of Johnson County, her talented event team is here to guide you through the planning process and make your dream wedding a reality that you and your guests will remember for a lifetime. Let her know your thoughts by tweeting @OP_Ballroom or by commenting on the Facebook page.

Cash Bar or Open Bar?

Cash Bar or Open Bar?

With Engagement Season just around the corner, we thought it would be fitting to talk about one of the largest wedding expenses, and quite honestly, sometimes the hardest decision a couple must make in the planning of their wedding reception – the bar! More specifically, whether or not it is appropriate to have a cash bar at the reception.

selection of liquors
Photo credit: epagaFOTO photography

Here’s a quick description of the terms being used:

  • cash bar is when your guests are required to pay for their own drinks. Couples usually lean towards cash bars to reduce the cost of the reception, however this is not proper etiquette.
  • An open bar is when the couple pays for all costs associated with the bar at their wedding, including staffing and gratuity. With an open bar, the host pays for all drinksbased on consumption at the end of the event (also called a “Hosted Bar”), or by pre-selecting a bar package that the caterer or venue offers.


Here’s the biggest question, is it rude or tacky to have a cash bar at your Wedding?


Traditionally, having guests pay for anything is a big NO. They are being invited to watch one of the most exciting days of a person’s life. The reception is a party to say “thank you” to your guests for celebrating with you. And as such, your guests should not be expected to pay for anything at the reception.


But let’s talk if you’re on a budget. That is the biggest thing we hear from Brides. Reading an article from Glamour, they asked their readers what they thought of cash bars. “It’s not tacky—it’s practical.” The reader Carrie goes on to talk about how excited she was when she got engaged but didn’t realize how much the cost of alcohol was. Her first choice was to have an open bar but then felt, “it’s OK to offer up a cash bar”. This is a major challenge when brides and grooms first start their journey on planning their wedding. You start hearing all these massive numbers, and panic.


champagne toast
Photo by Zavier

A couple of other readers from the same article go on to say “It’s not tacky—as long as you give your guests the heads-up.” And, “It’s not tacky—because your guests aren’t there for the alcohol.” Glamour did have some readers with opposing views, such as Mila stating, “It’s tacky—if you wouldn’t do it any other time.” She talks about how it can create a different atmosphere for her guests.


Your best option when being on a tight budget is to first decide which type of reception you want to have for your guests, a wedding with alcohol or without? If you can’t afford to have the top shelf bar package, how about just offering a beer and wine package? If you do decide a cash bar is your choice, you should consider notifying your guests ahead of time so they are aware and they can come prepared to purchase drinks. However, if there are financial or even personal factors that prevent alcohol from being served, we recommend you have coffee, tea, soda, and water available for your guests.

groom with liquor
Photo credit: Mojica Photography

Mainstream etiquette says a cash bar can be somewhat insulting to your guests. Put yourself in your guests’ shoes. They are planning on coming to your wedding to celebrate with you. They may also be bringing you a gift that you picked out on your registry, or think about the parents that are paying their babysitter $60-$80, to come out and have a good evening. In our opinion, at the Overland Park Ballroom, we stick with the etiquette of gifting your guests with a fun experience on the house! So when deciding what to do for your bar, consider hosting an open bar or a limited bar package to be sure that your guests are entertained throughout the night and that they feel appreciated. If a cash bar is a must for your reception, be sure to include a short note on the wedding invitations so your guests can come prepared. And always provide non-alcoholic beverages as a courtesy!






The OP Ballroom Event Team


First Dates and Dancing: Do or Don’t?

The first date.

I shudder to think about it. The awkwardness, the nervousness, the uncertainty. And sometimes the activity involved only makes it worse. I had one friend who took his date to McDonald’s for their first encounter, another suggested camping (yes, camping), and a girlfriend whose date drove her to a dinner at his mom’s house.

first date
Cringe-worthy, for sure. And while, thankfully, most of us have never suffered through those types of first dates, the clichéd ones are not much better. (I mean, c’mon, you can do better than dinner and a movie.)

So, I get it. Guys (and girls) in charge of coming up with a unique yet fun first date have their hands full. I see a lot of new couples come to the studio for dance classes, and while I applaud their ability to break away from the typical, I feel it’s time for a word of caution: Give it plenty of thought first.

Don’t make missteps

It’s easy to see how dance might be a good option for a first date—that romantic embrace, moving across the dance floor as one. I think I’ve seen that in a movie somewhere.

Unfortunately, reality is not always as picture-perfect. I recently observed a couple visit the ballroom for a first date. The woman was a little uncoordinated and quickly took on the role of the helpless, “I don’t know what to do” damsel in distress. The guy was struggling as well and was feeling especially powerless to help her because, after all, he was also learning (and having an especially hard time).

After class, he commented to me that he’d seen the dance on YouTube and wanted to try it on his date. How hard could it be, right? Turns out the dance he saw was a West Coast Swing, so he signed up for our swing class. Yes, it’s one of the coolest and sexiest dances, but it’s also one of the most difficult to learn for a beginner.

One user on Girls Ask Guys summed up what happened with her response to the question, “Is going dancing a good first date?”

“If it is something the girl has never done, I would wait to do that on a later date. While it is different and sets you apart, it can also feel intimidating to a first-timer.”

Choose the right dance

So, is dance a poor choice for a first date? Not necessarily. In fact, you can find many articles and blogs that espouse many of the positive benefits—learning about your date’s musical tastes, the ability to interact, the chance to express yourself. One site even equates your date’s dancing skills to his or her bedroom skills (but I’m not going there).

Dancing is actually a great way to learn about your partner: Learning new steps requires patience, listening skills and the ability to be a good sport. These are qualities you can only observe through actions, not words.

Yes, I’m all for date night at a dance studio, but consider a private lesson or a group class that’s learning an easier dance. Better yet, let the dance instructor know you’ll be on a date – especially if it’s a first date – so he or she can help you make the best decision. A different class might be a better option, and keep you from looking foolish.

Whatever you do, don’t get caught up in a YouTube fantasy or bring unrealistic expectations to the dance floor. You WILL feel awkward when you’re learning a new dance, so keep that in mind if you decide to venture to the ballroom with someone you’ve just met.

With some simple communication with the instructor, you can ensure your first date is a rousing success (assuming, of course, you’re not headed to your mom’s house for dinner afterward.)

As a professional dance instructor and owner of Overland Park Ballroom, Amy Castro has been teaching ballroom dance for more than 25 years. Let her know about your best (or worst) first date by tweeting @OP_Ballroom or by commenting on the Facebook page.

A Vietnamese Wedding Experience

The moment we met Cuong and Le, we knew the ballroom would be the perfect event space for their celebration. The couple had several special details they wanted to have at their event and we were very happy to see it all come together so nicely. They had a perfect combination of colors; red, pink, white, maroon, and hints of gold, which looked stunning in our neutral and grayscale facility.

bride and groom at Nguyen wedding
Photo credit: Paper People Photography

Since we opened, The Overland Park Ballroom & Social Club has had two other ethnic weddings before we met the future Mr. and Mrs. Nguyen. One was a Bulgarian wedding reception and the other was an Indian wedding. With each ethnic wedding event we are privileged to witness special cultural traditions. Cuong and Le also brought with them some Vietnamese wedding customs and it was exciting to be a part of their celebration!

In the morning, Cuong and Le had a traditional ceremony at their home. Later in the evening they held their reception at the ballroom with over 170 family and friends!

Reception guests were served a delectable 8-course meal provided by Princess Garden Restaurant. After dinner concluded, Le used our luxurious dressing room suite to change out of her white dress for a traditional Vietnamese dress called an Áo dài. After she changed, the newly married couple proceeded to go around to each table.

Nguyen wedding reception

Photo credit: Paper People Photography

At the table, an elected speaker would give all the blessings and advice that the table had discussed throughout the evening, then proceeded to toast to the happy couple.

The Overland Park Event Staff loved watching the two families come together with such joy, while the bride and groom took the time to acknowledge each guest at the reception. It’s a wonderful tradition and one we’d like to see more of!

bride and groom first dance at Nguyen wedding
Photo credit: Paper People Photography

After the blessing, Le changed back into her white dress and they carried on with the rest of their reception. The reception included a first dance as husband and wife. A photo booth to entertain guests, and one our favorites, Karaoke! All in all, the Overland Park Ballroom and Social Club wants to thank Cuong and Le for sharing their cultural traditions with us and wish them a very happy life together!



The OP Ballroom Event Team