This is the fourth in a series of Dance Spot posts highlighting different places to go dancing.

Dance Spot: Friday Night Waltz
Price: $12 for class + social dancing; $8 for students; $8 for social dancing only
Time: 7-9pm class; 9pm-midnight social dancing
Location: First United Methodist Church, 625 Hamilton Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94301

On Friday, I went to Friday Night Waltz, my favorite dance spot —especially if Richard Powers is teaching. There’s always an introductory Waltz class in the downstairs room, but the upstairs room typically has intermediate classes taught by guest instructors on a variety of dances. For example, Chelsea Eng taught Argentine Tango in the upstairs room for the past three weeks.

On this day, Richard was teaching Frankie Manning’s Shim Sham (7-8pm) and Romany Polka (8-9pm), a choreography he just created. While it was hard to learn Shim Sham in a hour, Richard broke it down in ways that made sense. The Romany Polka was definitely an intermediate class that required knowing some basic Polka to keep up. Thankfully, the dance is forgiving so learners can easily recover from mess ups.

My friend, Bill, took the downstairs introductory Waltz class (7-9pm), which covered basic Rotary Waltz for most of the class. The class was easy to follow and at the end, Tom Hills also taught a choreographed Waltz dance called Congress of Vienna, a choreography by John Hertz inspired by Regency-period dances (think of the Balls in Jane Austen novels.)

After the classes end at 9pm, the social dancing begin. My favorite part about Friday Night Waltz is that it covers a variety of dances, which are posted on walls around the room. That night, Romany Polka was fifth on the list, and I found a guy who took the class as follow and had a blast doing the dance role reversed.

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Sometime between the sets is the birthday dance. During this dance, people with recent birthdays dance the entire song, typically a Cross-Step Waltz, while everyone else takes turns dancing with them. The birthday dance ends with continuous pivots to the audience’s claps.

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During social dancing, I spotted a few classmates from Social Dance classes I took at Stanford. Intrigued, I went over to chat. It turns out they dragged a friend along who had never danced before and were teaching him some dance steps. This friend then asked me to dance and practice his new moves. So I handed my camera over to someone else and enjoyed a dance with a new person.