People often comment how they’d love to learn to dance. But when you suggest modern jive classes, they come up with excuses. They can’t dance, they’ll be useless, there’s no classes near them, they don’t have the time, and it would cost too much. But dancing doesn’t have to be expensive – in fact it’s probably one of the cheapest hobbies. If you’re really keen on dancing, then there can be ways to keep down costs and save money on your dance habit.
Money saving for dancers
Learning to dance modern jive is cheapest when you first start out. The best thing is you don’t need specific clothing or dance shoes. There’s no equipment. You just turn up, with a drink or buy one there, pay your entrance fee (and joining fee if it’s Ceroc), and you’re done.
As a beginner there also tends to be discounted offers for the first few weeks of lessons. Like any new habit, you need to keep going for a few weeks to get the most out of it and get hooked. So buying into any beginner offers will not only save you money, but have you more likely stick it out. Some independent modern jive organisations offer the first lesson free.
Offers tend to be 6 weeks for a price. I’ve also known some organisations to have Groupon offers. So if you’re starting out, it’s worth keeping an eye out and taking them up on offers.
Been dancing a while:
Once you’ve been dancing a while, it can get slightly more expensive (in particular if you’re partial to increasing a dance shoe collection or like to buy dance wear).
Dance shoes vary in price – if you’re buying your first pair of dance shoes, do find a dance shop, or an event where they’re selling shoes, so you can try them on. Having to return dance shoes because of size isn’t cheap. Alternatively ask friends if you can try theirs on for size.
Online tends to be cheaper but make sure you know what you’re buying. Even after 10 years of social dancing I’ve just bought a pair of gorgeous looking dance shoes, sold as dance shoes, for a bargain price, but the shank isn’t flexible so they’re definitely not suitable for dancing in. (Cue nightmares trying to get a full refund and postage paid to return them).
Buying dance shoes from ebay is possible – jazz shoes, dance sneakers or normal dance shoes. Just check for feedback, the returns policy and sizing. You can also buy from the far east, but look out for delivery costs and time.
From dance shoe websites, look out for loyalty schemes too. If you’re not buying lots of pairs yourself (because who would?), why not team up with friends to see if you can get a discount for a group purchase and maybe cut down on delivery costs.
Classes and freestyles
Modern jive companies want to keep dancers coming through the doors so they need to retain dancers as well as getting newbies through the doors. Some do block buy cards – for example my west coast swing is £12 a lesson but I tend to buy a 4 lesson card for £40. Independent modern jive companies often do similar. If they don’t have block buy cards, they might do one off specials.
Look out for new venues – often the first few weeks will be at a reduced price to get people coming along.
Watch out for couples offers or bring a friend along deals.
Early bird deals are usually available for freestyles but sometimes class nights have them too to encourage people to come along early rather than coming in dribs and drabs.
Compare costs in different areas – for example, the county I live in is expensive for modern jive classes and freestyles, but the next county is a couple of pounds cheaper. You just need to factor in the travel costs.
For workshops, often if you do the workshop you’ll get a reduced rate or even free entry to the freestyle.
For dance weekenders like Ceroc Escape, they have different early bird pricing, so get booking as soon as the booking is open (especially if you’re girls booking without man)
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Of course, don’t forget that when you’re going to a class night, you’re paying for a beginners class, beginners review/intermediate class and a freestyle. So do everything you can get to. It doesn’t matter if you’re not a beginner, do the class, give support to and meet new beginners, and get your money’s worth.
Travel is when it gets expensive if you’re wanting to venture further away from home. Try car sharing (Facebook groups are the best places to ask, or ask for organisers to put out a request for you).
Having children does make any night out more expensive if you want to go out as a couple. Obviously the cheapest is for one to stay home and alternate classes if you both want to learn. But it goes against doing a class together. Possible solutions are to arrange sleepovers and reciprocate at their friends’ houses or ask family to have them (for weekend nights), or find cheaper teenagers who want to babysit. The alternative is to start a baby sitting circle in your area based on a reciprocal scheme using tokens – so no cash is passing hands, but neighbours help out each other.
Unfortunately, private dance lessons are unlikely to come at a reduced price especially if you want a good lesson with a good pro.
But you can get the most out of your lessons by asking them to focus on specific areas you find hard or want to improve on, and practising what you’ve learnt inbetween lessons. Ask questions and make notes so you don’t forget what you’ve learnt.
You might be able to get a small group lesson for 2-3 couples that might be a slightly lower price, so it’s worth asking. But obviously there might be venue costs to account for.
What other ways do you keep costs down to fund your dance habit?