Song lists are grouped by dance style (Swing, Waltz, Two-Step, etc) and listed in ascending tempo order (slowest songs at the top). Each song is classified by BPM (Beats Per Minute/tempo/speed), music genre (Country, Pop/Rock, etc.), release year, and artist. The 5-star rating system is our humble opinion of the "dancability" of each song; we only list (and play) songs rated three stars or more.
All forms of Swing dance trace their roots back to the original Big-Band driven Lindy Hop of the 1930's. Options for swing music include Classic 1930's Big Band Swing, 50's Jitterbug, Rock 'n' Roll, Rockabilly, Country Swing, and the revival Swing/Jump Blues artists of the 90's. Swing music is characterized by a lilting feeling of "1 & a 2, 3 & a 4" (hard swing) or "1&2, 3&4" with the &s being short and quick.
Single Step Swing is best done to a bouncy, swinging rhythm with speeds ranging 160 to 250 beats per minute. Single Step Swing is very versatile, and good rhythms can be found in several different styles of music. If you are in our Beginner East Coast Swing class, this is the list for you!
Triple-step East Coast Swing requires a slightly slower tempo than Single-Step (up to 160 bpm). Good East Coast music can be found in Country Music, Rock 'n' Roll from the 1950's and 1980's, Revival Swing and Jump Blues. Swing music is characterized by a lilting feeling of "1 & a 2, 3 & a 4" (hard swing) or "1&2, 3&4" with the &s being short and quick.
West Coast Swing is typically slower than Triple-step East Coast (up to 130bpm). Although it is also a six-count triple step pattern, the rhythm and "feel" of West Coast is different from East Coast. Most notably, it tends to have a bluesier feel than East Coast. West Coast Swing is broken into three sub-genres of Classic, Smooth, and Funky. Classic WCS music can be found in Country, Blues, and Rock and has a classic bluesy feel. Smooth and Funky WCS is found in R&B, Top 40, and Pop.
Since we have so much WCS, we've only listed four- and five-star songs here.
Hustle originated in the Disco era and the rhythm is very disco-esque. Hustle music has a solid "four on the floor" beat translating to the typical "Boom Boom Boom Boom" sound of disco and modern dance music. Hustle music does not have a significant swing to it. Hustle and West Coast music are often confused, so listen for that swing -- if it's got a swing, then swing; if it doesn't swing, then hustle. Hustle music can be found in Disco, Pop, and Country.
Salsa is the merging of traditional Latin rhythms and contemporary Jazz music. Salsa music is characterized by four beats of music, following the dance pattern of Quick, Quick, Slow (1, 2, 3/4). Traditional Salsa music tends to be very fast and can be challenging for the beginning dancer. Latin Country & Pop work well for practicing, though the slower music (101-130 bpm) is technically Mambo or Cha Cha music, not Salsa. Music listed includes traditional Salsa music, but also popular music that isn't true Salsa but it works for Salsa dancing at non-Salsa dance events.
Cha Cha music has a similar rhythm to Salsa, but with a slower tempo and a triple-step pattern. Here is a simple comparison: Cha Cha music is to Salsa music as Triple-step ECSwing music is to Single-Step ECSwing music. Cha Cha is typically Latin, though good Cha Cha rhythms can also be found in Country and Pop music. Country Cha tends to have a milder tone, feeling more like a smooth Rumba than a spicy Cha.
Rumba music sounds like a very mellow Cha Cha with a slightly slower tempo. Ideal Rumba music has a Latin feel to it and a hint of romance. American-style Rumba starts on the 1; International-style Rumba holds on 1 and starts on the 2.
Polka music is up-tempo music with a triple-count rhythm (ta-ta-ta, ta-ta-ta...). Traditional polkas include lots of fiddle and oomp-pa-pa styles, whereas contemporary polkas are usually found in Country music.
Two-step and six-step are typical Country dances so the vast majority of music is found in that genre. Two-step music has a solid beat of "1,2,3,4" or "1&2, 3&4" with the each count being equal in duration (unlike swing where the "&" is short). Two-step music should have a regular cadence to it and should make you feel like walking, not swinging. Two-step music is faster than six-step with typical tempos ranging from 150-200 beats per minute.
Six-step is the slower cousin of two-step though the triple step actually makes it look and feel like a faster dance. The typical tempo range for six-step is 100-150 beats per minute.
There are many good sources of slow waltz music available, from Classical to Country to Pop. Remember that the distinguishing feature that sets the Waltz apart from other styles is the 3/4 timing (3 beats to a bar, not the 4 of most music).
Viennese Waltz shares the distinguishing 3/4 metre of Slow Waltz, but the music for Viennese Waltz is significantly faster. This music also works for the (very) old-school Hesitation Waltz.
Nite Club 2 (NC2S) music is slow tempo with a bit of a swing (1&a2, 3&a4). NC2S music can be found in any style of popular music that has slow tempos (but not every slow tempo song is a NC2S!)
Foxtrot was created as a slower alternative to the Two-Step. Its Slow-Slow-Quick-Quick rhythm is similar (though slower and smoother) to the modern Country Two-Step. Contemporary Foxtrot is often found in music by the "Crooners."
Tango music is written in either 2/4 or 4/4 time at an ideal tempo of 120 bpm. Tango music tends to have a staccato feel to it... remember T---A---N-G-O!
Samba music is traditionally written in 2/4 time, though it is danced with 3 steps per bar, giving the Samba a soft polka-like feel with a Latin beat.