Exploring Lincoln Dance
Dear Readers, it is my hope that you will benefit from my dancing struggles. You see, I'm on the hunt for a Ballroom/Latin/Swing dance venue that will gently coax my reluctant partner and I away from our awkward shuffling to some semblance of united, graceful movement. I've compiled a list of the primary venues in Lincoln and hope that those with the inclination will sample them generously.
Thus far, my efforts to persuade my significant other that dancing together will enhance our relationship have stumbled – and considering that he views dancing as public torture, it will take a special alchemy to change the situation. Our first and only series of Latin dance classes ended after session three, when the instructors added step-upon-step-upon-step, styling in ways neither of us could follow, leaving him steaming out the ears and me nearly in tears.
Nevertheless, once the dust had settled, my significant other was persuaded that other circumstances and other instructors might fare better with our four left feet (two eager, two shy), and promised to join me in sampling the variety of Ballroom and Latin dancing opportunities Lincoln has to offer.
Hence, I present my annotated list of Ballroom, Latin and Swing dancing spots in town, whether you wish to step out on your own or as a couple. This list can fill your social calendar most nights of the week, but is merely the tippy toe on the dancing shoe, as there are groups and enthusiasts and private dance instructors all over southeast Nebraska.
Dancing Venues (listed alphabetically)
Auld Recreation Center
1650 Memorial Dr
Lincoln, NE 68502
USA Dance, a non-profit that promotes partner dancing, sponsors a Ballroom Dancing Club that meets every 3rd Saturday of the month at the Auld Rec Center. Instructors from both Nebraska and Kansas teach 45 min-1 hr group lessons before a DJ opens up the dance floor for the open dance. Doors open at 7:30, the lesson starts at 7:45 and begins with the most basic steps, increasing in difficulty as it progresses. The open dance begins at 8:30 and lasts until 11:00 p.m.
Cover charges: $7 for non-members, $5 for members, and $4 for those under 21.
Barry's Bar & Grill
235 N 9th St
Lincoln, NE 68508-1312
Every Wednesday night at 8:00 p.m., Barry's Bar & Grill clears some tables and opens its space to aspiring and accomplished Argentine Tango dancers. Organized by the Lincoln Tango Club, this “practica” offers a free, low-pressure setting to work on your steps and share knowledge.
Note: Because Barry's celebrates special holidays and caters to the fans of the Girls and Boys State Basketball tournaments, the Lincoln Tango Club has moved the practica from Wednesdays to Tuesdays. This will be the schedule through St. Patrick's Day (March 17th). Afterward, the Tango Club will decide whether or not to keep the practica on Tuesdays or Wednesdays. Star City Blog will update this information as it becomes available.
1427 O St
Lincoln, NE 68508
This February, the Bricktop inaugurated a Swing Dance night every Wednesday. Rayna Masek offers free lessons from 8 - 9 p.m., and another lesson from 9:30 -10:30 p.m. (donations welcome). Open dancing lasts until the wee hour of 1:00 a.m.
The DelRay Ballroom
817 R Street Lincoln, NE 68508
Shelly Fritz's DelRay Ballroom has been providing private and group dance instruction and open dances to the public since 2001. During the week, the cocktail lounge is free and open to the public, with a different themed music each night for dancing on its 2500 square foot space.
If you are looking for basic instruction, DelRay charges $5 for a drop-in ½ hour basic instruction class at 8 p.m. on weekdays, with the style of dance corresponding to the theme in the lounge that night. Monday is Argentine Tango night, Tuesday is Ballroom, Wednesday is Latin, Thursday is Swing. On Fridays,the drop-in lesson is $10 and lasts one hour. The lesson begins at 7:30 and the dance style taught rotates. Then at 8:30 p.m., the entire 7000 square foot ballroom is opened up for a public dance with music from all genres.
Entrance to the Friday dance is $8, or you can get in for $15 and do both the public dance and the one hour drop-in class.
The Pla Mor Ballroom
6600 W O St
Lincoln, NE 68528
The Pla Mor has been hosting public dances in one of the last remaining dance halls in Lincoln since 1929. On the first and third Wednesday of the month you're invited to listen and dance to a rotation of live Big Bands for a $10 cover charge. Pla Mor also hosts group dance lessons and country and singles night dances, so check its website for more information.
Sur Tango Bar & Cafe
1228 P St
Lincoln, NE 68508
Sur Tango hosts Lincoln's Argentine Tango community every Friday night from 7-10 p.m. Every Wednesday at 9 p.m. there are free 1-hour tango lessons with an additional hour of music. On Thursdays, Sur Tango offers free salsa lessons from 9 - 10 p.m., with an array of Latin music for dancing afterwards.
Ballroom/Latin/Swing Dancing Groups in Lincoln
For continuous updates on regional dancing opportunities (including country), you can join Nick Hernandez's Facebook Group “Dancing Around Lincoln and Omaha,” linked here.
Jerry Berggren puts together the “Official Newsletter of the Unofficial Tango Club,” and if you are interested in receiving this list, contact him. Berggren is unabashedly enthusiastic about the beauty of Argentine Tango and the social connections made in the community, writing,
“The Tango Community is a special group of people. Tangueros & Milongueros welcome newcomers and share their knowledge and experience generously.”
Both students and faculty of UNL have their own ballroom clubs. The UNL Ballroom Dancing Club offers free ballroom lessons--for more information, join the Facebook group; more information on the faculty club can be found here (scroll down).
The Weekly Line-Up:
Argentine Tango in the cocktail lounge at the DelRay 5-10 p.m., $5 drop-in class at 8 p.m.
Ballroom in the cocktail lounge at the DelRay 5-10 p.m., $5 drop-in class at 8 p.m.
Until after St. Patrick's Day: Argentine Tango sharing/practice at Barry's 8 p.m., free.
Salsa in the cocktail lounge at the DelRay 5-10 p.m., $5 drop-in class at 8 p.m.
1st and 3rd Wednesday, Live Big Band Music playing at Pla Mor Ballroom, $10 cover.
Swing (West Coast and East Coast), 8:30 and 9:30 1-hr free lessons (donations welcome) at the Bricktop, no cover dancing until 1 a.m.
Salsa lesson at 9 p.m. at SurTango, free, donations welcome.
Swing in the cocktail lounge at the DelRay 5-10 p.m., $5 drop-in class at 8 p.m.
Open dance 8:30-11 p.m. at the DelRay $8, 1-hr lesson at 7:30 $10, style alternates.
Argentine Tango 7:30-10 p.m. at Sur Tango, free.
3rd Saturday of the month, lesson at 7:30, dance 8:30 - 11 PM, at Auld, $7 non-members, $5 members, $4 under 21.