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Balboa is a jazz dance which can be done either to swing music or to the odler, Dixieland, form of jazz. The dance dates from the 1930s, and was probably derived from Charleston and Collegiate Shag. It first became popular on the Balboa Peninsula of California in the 30s (although there are several competing stories of its origin).. Pure Balboa is danced in a closed position with a chest to chest hold and, except in the 'break', this close hold is never lost. The dance is ideal for crowded floors and fast music.

Bal-Swing is a derivative of Balboa that opens out and takes up more space. Most 'balboa' classes taught round the world are actually classes in Bal-swing. Bal-swing includes all balboa and then a lot of other material besides. It is difficult to fid vintage movies of Balboa. You can see a 1970s clip of some famous Balboa old-timers dancing here, and of modern international-level dancers here.  This vintage clip is of a style of Balboa/ Bal-swing that owed much to shag; it illustrates well the point that Balboa does not have to be a smooth and gliding dance!

Bal-trot is a modern invention which turns Balboa into a progressive dance that goes around the room the way that Foxtrot, Quickstep etc do. By dancing Bal-trot you can therefore mix with members of Footloose in ballrooms, but you still have the full repertoire of Balboa and Bal-swing moves to drop in to look really flashy!

We teach all three forms at EUSDS.

Visit the class notes page on the Swingdoctors' website for notes and videos about how to dance Balboa.