Ballroom vs Latin Dances

Lauren and Eamonn dancing waltz Ballroom and Latin dance differ mainly in the following two ways:

1. The way they travel or rotate and

2. Techniques applied to them

1) Travel and Rotation

Does the dance travel around the ballroom in an anti-clockwise direction or does it stay more or less on the spot and rotate?

  • If it travels around the room it is most likely in the ballroom category

  • If it is more stationary with rotation it will most likely fall under the Latin/swing category

2) Techniques Used

Cat and George dancing Paso Doble

Ballroom Techniques

  • Heel Leads and Toes Release

  • Ball Flat Footwork

  • Drive

  • Sway

  • Rise and Fall

  • Hover

  • Head positions

  • Closed Dance Position

  • Contra Body Movement Position

Jam and John cha cha

Latin Techniques

  • Sliding Action

  • Ball Flat Footwork

  • Hip Movement

  • Rib Leads

  • Spotting

Ballroom Dances

  • Waltz

  • Foxtrot

  • Ballroom Tango

  • Quickstep

  • Viennese Waltz


Latin Dances

  • Rumba

  • Salsa

  • Cha Cha

  • Argentine Tango

  • Merengue

  • Bolero

  • Mambo

  • Lamabada

  • Samba

  • Bachata


Swing (sub category of Latin)

  • Swing (triple step)

  • Rock N Roll (single step)

  • Jitterbug (double step)

  • Hustle


Samba Why is it different? Samba is sometimes referred to as the Latin waltz as it uses all of the Latin techniques and has the Latin American origins but travels around the floor the way a ballroom dance typically would.

Swing Why is it in the Latin category ? Swing is a category all of it’s own but it’s often thrown in with Latin as it stays on the spot and rotates and also shares many of the same techniques in terms of footwork.

Bolero Why is it different? Bolero is a Latin dance but occasionally uses ballroom techniques. It is a very strange and wonderful dance all of its own.

Argentine Tango vs. Ballroom Tango Why is one style ballroom and the other Latin? These two styles of tango are world’s apart. once again it mainly comes back to the technique and travel. Ballroom Tango travels around the room constantly following lie of dance whereas Argentine Tango uses Latin techniques and rotates and moves more or less on the spot with bursts of travel in any direction.