Want to do Ballroom & Latin dancing but don’t have prior experience? You’re in the right place!
For many years, Cambridge University Dancesport Team (CUDT) has developed some of the best beginner dancers in the UK, winning the national ‘Best Beginners Team’ award year after year. Our fantastic coaches will teach you to dance from the very basics. With the help of your Beginners Captains, you will hone your performance skills in competitions against other universities. CUDT is very much like a family – you will compete and socialise alongside the First and Second teams, many of whom started as beginners in Cambridge (more than half of First Team this year!).
The dance styles that beginners learn are the Waltz, Quickstep, Cha-cha, and Jive. In Michaelmas you’ll find your feet as you learn all the new steps, in Lent you’ll work on technique as we build up to the Nationals competition in Blackpool (at the Empress Ballroom), then in Easter you’ll often have a chance to try out some fun new styles. Alongside all of this there’s a fun and chilled social scene where you can meet the rest of team.
There’s nothing quite like your first big competition with all the sequins and costumes, but what you really remember is the roar from your teammates.”Michael Ha, CUDT Alumnus
To qualify as a Beginner for competitions, you cannot have had any ballroom or latin lessons before 25th February 2023. If you have done ballroom/latin dancing before, please email the CUDT captains at email@example.com, and look at the Novice-Advanced tab. If you have any questions feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meet Your Beginners’ Captains
“Dancesport is nothing if not a massive new family – it is first and foremost a social sport. The other beginners moving through the mad adventure with you quickly become great mates, as well as the beginner’s captains and the many bubbly personalities in the other teams that are frankly impossible to avoid at our social events.
We took up ballroom and Latin as we both entered our second year here, to give it a go, and we were hooked pretty quickly. The Latin dances are certainly amazing fun (and are really eye-catching in nightclubs!) but personally our favourite was the Quickstep, since it just feels like frantic fun – there’s nothing more thrilling than rocketing around the floor to tunes like ‘Pon de Replay’ and ‘Walking on Sunshine’!
The first few weeks of the year are danced with everyone paired with everyone as an extended meet-and-greet, and then the coaches and captains decide on who is best to pair with you, putting you with someone of a similar commitment level of about the same height, and from there you spend the year of dance honing your teamwork with that one individual.
We had no experience in ballroom or Latin dancing at all beforehand, and although Grace had some ballet experience, this had stopped a good few years ago. Nonetheless, with our brilliant coaches and beginners’ captains we went from zero ballroom experience to competing at regional and national competitions as part of the team, placing in the top three at some of them, and have become lifelong friends. There are competitions from the very first term, but this is the opposite of a problem – our team is famed across the universities for cheering our beginners on like lunatics, they really are so supportive. Competition days can feel like a marathon with a DJ and cheerleaders since it really is a full day of dancing, especially when you’re on fifty minutes of sleep because you were at a concert the night before (Grace regrets it to this day), but the inextinguishable team spirit of CUDT makes every competition fly by in a whirlwind of sequins and supportive shouting.
Placing in 2 national finals in Blackpool and dancing in the Empress Ballroom was an absolute dream, and whatever next year holds for dance, we can’t wait!“
Sign up to the CUDT mailing list to stay informed!
You can sign up to our mailing list, or contact us at email@example.com, to make sure you don’t miss any info at the start of term. For more info, see the other tabs in the Beginner’s section.
You can also read about some of the experiences of other successful beginners below.
Kelvin (Beginner 2017)
“Keep your eyes and ears wide open, for you never know when a small invitation can take you on a life-changing journey.
My first exposure to Dancesport was during Fresher’s week – new friends on my corridor convinced me to attend a CUDT demo as I was about to retreat into my room to have a pre-packed meal. Tentatively, I brought my dinner along with me, was dazzled by the performance, and eventually joined CUDT with the aim of spending the minimum 4 hours a week on dance and maybe improve my standing posture by the end of it.
I truly fell for dancing hook, line, and sinker dancing next to the senior members of CUDT in the open rounds in OTNT. The single thought running though my head at the time was, “Gosh, this is terrifying. Can a beginner like me seriously dance like them if I stick with this? I can’t believe some of the best of them were beginners too!” Being utterly crushed in the open rounds served to light up a competitive fire and passion within me.
The Christmas was spent with countless hours of obsessing over ballroom, balancing on tiptoes between train stops, and shamelessly dancing on the streets (a practice that continues to this day). And sure enough, when I came back to Cambridge, some teammates commented that I had suddenly transformed as we started regularly making finals and semi-finals. Blackpool was an interesting experience. Of the 40 possible rounds a beginner can dance, my partner and I danced 39 and 2 more representing Cambridge in the team match. The roaring support from Cambridge still stays with me to this day.
However, the real highlight of my beginners year was not in the Empress Ballroom, but in Oxford’s neon green sports hall during the Cambridge vs Oxford Varsity Match. It was my second chance to be pitched against more experienced dancers in open rounds. I have no words to describe how I felt as a beginner when our number was called into the final round of the Non-Team 2-Dance Ballroom Match.
Since graduating from the beginners team, I joined first team and went on to receive a Half-Blue in my second year, and have consistently made finals and semi-finals as an Intermediate dancer. Throughout my time at CUDT, I have also taken up the roles of Social Secretary 2018-19, and Beginner’s Captain 2019-20.”
(Kelvin’s also now gone on to take part in the Dancesport circuit in Singapore!)
Tom (Beginner 2014)
Since writing this in summer 2015, Tom joined first team and went on to receive a Full Blue as an Advanced dancer. He now competes in the open circuit with his long-time dance partner.
“I joined CUDT tentatively last October (2014) with the aim of spending an hour or two each week learning how to Ballroom dance. However after just a couple of weeks I was hooked and my weekly commitment started climbing. I was carefully partnered by the coaches and team captains and before I knew it I was dancing with my wonderful partner, Jo Buckland, at my first competition!
We were eased into the world of competitions at OTNT (Old Team, New Team) in Cambridge. We won best beginner Ballroom couple and from then on we practised more and more as we grew to love dancing. The social side of the club is strong too; there were regular social events both amongst the beginners and the whole team. As we moved into Lent term the team had bonded well and this was evidenced by the inter-team support shown at competitions.
The climax of the year was IVDC (Inter Varsity Dance Competition), my sixth competition, in Blackpool in February. There were over 230 beginner couples competing so a lot of rounds to dance though but we were overjoyed to win gold in both the Waltz and Quickstep. The rest of the Cambridge beginners did well or even better – often half the finalists were from Cambridge and Greg Aroutiunian and Nonny Jones won best overall beginners following their excellent Latin perfomances. We also won (not surprisingly) the best university beginners team trophy, which added to all the other team trophies won by Cambridge that day. It was an incredible day and I cannot wait to go back next year.
Since IVDC I joined the XS Latin formation team which is also based in Cambridge. This has been a great way to keep up my dancing over summer and formation dancing has been challenging in different ways.
Now I am waiting for the next academic year to start; there will be trials, partnering, new routines and many competitions down the line. I cannot believe how much CUDT, and dancing in general, has taken over my life, but I love every minute of it.”