Wedding Moves

Dance Lessons for Those with Two Left Feet

For many brides and grooms, the first
wedding dance is a terrifying prospect: They’ve just survived the
most nerve-wracking — if most joyous — experience of their lives,
gulped down a glass or two of champagne, and endured the blinding
pop of the photographer’s flash, and now they have to get up in
front of big brothers, work colleagues, and old friends, and …
dance? Poor things.

It’s a crying shame if the first dance fills you both with fear
instead of pride and tender love, but it doesn’t have to be a
trial. “The key is to start early,” said Sylvia Sykes, longtime
swing dance instructor of Jonathan and Sylvia fame. Sylvia and her
dance partner, Jonathan Bixby, have won awards in national dance
contests and have been offering social dance classes in Santa
Barbara for nearly 30 years. They specialize in teaching absolute
beginners, and despite their background, they say the goal is to
relax and have a good time, not win a competition.

Jonathan and Sylvia often give private lessons to brides- and
grooms-to-be, and sometimes even the rest of the wedding party.
They tailor their classes to the couple’s style and ability level,
and emphasize confidence-building and fun. As far as Jonathan is
concerned, three or four one-hour lessons about a month before the
wedding should do it, with a quick brushup shortly before the big
day. “It’s great when guys come in saying, ‘There’s no way I can do
this, I can’t dance,’ and they leave loving it,” Sylvia said.
Jonathan agreed. “Most men are never really given a chance to get
into dancing,” he said. “Once they get a taste of it, you can’t get
them to stop.”

Jonathan and Sylvia’s main piece of advice is to select a song
for the first dance and bring it to your first dance lesson, so you
can begin getting used to moving to the music you know you’ll use.
By the time the real thing rolls around, dancing to that tune will
be second nature.

So get on the phone and book yourself a few private lessons with
the dance instructor of your choice. A few hours spent in the hands
of professionals, and you’ll be dancing your wedding night away as
Mrs. and Mr. Smooth Moves.

Jonathan and Sylvia These longtime, legendary
Santa Barbara swing dance instructors tailor their private sessions
to suit the couple’s style, choice of music, and ability level.
Visit or call

Arthur Murray Dance Studio Part of a dance
studio franchise, the Santa Barbara studio offers private lessons
in virtually every form of couples dancing imaginable, and aims for
a polished and graceful performance. Visit or call

Santa Barbara Dance Center Formerly known as A
Fascinating Rhythm Dance Center, SBDC offers private and group
instruction in a variety of styles. Visit or call 899-2901.

Nigel’s Dance A former ballroom dance national
champion, Nigel Clark teaches competition dancers and also offers
private and group lessons. Call 637-0966.

Patricia Ryan Patricia Ryan also teaches
ballroom dance, specializing in smooth ballroom and Latin. Call

Fay Villanueva and Brian Griffin Fay and Brian
are serious tango teachers — they encourage those interested in
dancing the tango at their wedding to begin training well in
advance, but they’ll teach a few quick moves, too, in case you’re
dead set on dancing to “Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina.” Visit or call 687-2113.


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