Celebrity Tip: When doing the samba, says Lance Bass (of iconic boy band ‘N Sync and DWTS season seven), “practice near a puddle. Step up and over it before going down into the knee on the other side (for proper bounce action).”
Where to Go:Brazil, of course—the samba dance-offs of Carnaval (a countrywide, four-day, pre-Lent celebration) are the equivalent of the Super Bowl in the U.S. The Copacabana Palace hotel is home—during Carnaval—to daily samba classes and a Carnaval Package that includes parade tickets and costumes (rates start at $6,900 for five nights). The hotel also organizes samba school visits year-round; or you can simply sign up yourself at Carlinhos de Jesus dance school, which offers samba classes for all levels.
2 of 8Courtesy of Tanzschule Willy Elmayer-Vestenbrugg GmbH.
Lisa Rinna: Waltz in Vienna
Celebrity Tip: According to actress (and DWTS season-two contestant) Lisa Rinna, the Viennese waltz makes you spin “so quickly, anti-dizziness tricks never work. Just hang on tight to your partner to avoid falling.”
Where to Go: Some 400 balls are hosted in Vienna during the formal ball season, between November and February—the most venerable being the famed Kaiserball. The InterContinental Vienna offers a waltz-themed Insider Experience during the ball season; the package includes a lesson at a top school and tickets to a ball (rates start at $210 per night). Waltz-minded visitors can also stop by the Tanzschule Elmayer dance school, which is owned by a judge on Dancing Stars (the Austrian cousin of Dancing with the Stars).
Celebrity Tip: “The tango is about telling a story: I love you, I hate you, I need you to kiss me, I can’t stand to be around you,” says Marissa Jaret Winokur (actress and season-six contestant). “Master the storytelling, and you’re halfway there.”
Where to Go: “Argentine tango is Buenos Aires,” says Dancing with the Stars judge Bruno Tonioli. And he’s right—from sidewalk improv to dinner-and-drink shows to all-night milongas (tango parties), the dance is everywhere in this city. Mansion Dandi Royal, a.k.a. the Tango Hotel, has 30 guest rooms decorated with tango-themed art and named after tango luminaries—plus an on-site dance academy (three-night tango packages start at $315 per night). Group lessons are offered daily; private lessons on request.
Celebrity Tip: “Practicing in a hot, steamy studio makes you just irritable enough to let out the paso doble’s raw emotions,” says champion figure skater and DWTS season-six contestant Kristi Yamaguchi. “No air-conditioning!”
Where to Go: Despite having originated in 20th-century southern France, the paso doble is a clear homage to the traditional Spanish bullfight. Le Méridien Barcelona—another variation on the French-Spanish fusion theme—will, on request, arrange paso doble lessons for guests. (Rooms start at $315 per night.) Self-serve types may prefer to sign up for classes at Ball Centre, Europe’s biggest dance school.
Vivica Fox: Fox-Trot, Quickstep, and Jive in New York City
Celebrity Tip: Says actress and season-three contestant Vivica Fox, “For quickstep, put on your track shoes, honey. It’s one of the fastest dances, so make sure your cardio and leg strength are up to it.”
Where to Go: What better place than New York City for something fast-paced?DanceSport, home to the weekday Dancing with the Stars rehearsals, is the most obvious place to learn the jive, along with the fox-trot and quickstep (two other high-energy dances). To prolong the mood, consider staying at the Jumeirah Essex House, famed in the 1930s for hosting big-band dances and radio programs (rates start at $270 per night).
Celebrity Tip: To do the mambo properly, says actress and season-five contestant Jane Seymour, “imagine you have ‘snake hips’—that sensual movement that comes so easily to a reptile.”
Where to Go: While travel restrictions to Cuba remain in flux, the easiest place to learn its native dances is Miami. Here, salsa is the musical lingua franca, and the ability to move one’s caderas is a birthright. The Ritz-Carlton in Key Biscayne hosts Grupo Nostalgia, an old-school Cuban big band, every weekend night in its lobby lounge; copious dancing ensues. (Rooms start at $188 per night.)
Celebrity Tip: When preparing to waltz, says season-two contestant Lisa Rinna, “opt for a shorter dress; for some reason, these movements tend to lend themselves to getting shoes caught in hems.”
Where to Go: Though both Bavaria and its native waltz conjure fairy-tale elegance, the dance has decidedly humble beginnings—as a pastime for the working class. According to DanceSport’s Paul Pellicoro, teachers had to slow down the originally quick steps in order to teach them to the intrigued upper crust—and the dreamy pace stayed in fashion. At the Mandarin Oriental Munich; room rates from $433 per night), the concierge will set you up at a local dance school. That might easily be the Tanzschule Wolfgang Steuer, which offers waltz lessons for all levels.
Celebrity Tip: Season-three DWTS contestant Vivica Fox advocates dolling up to Lindy hop. “With dances that evoke certain periods,” she says, “something as simple as doing your hair to fit the theme can really put you in the right mind-set.”
Where to Go: Though New York could lay reasonable claim to the Lindy hop, there’s something distinctly Chicagoan about the dance’s blues influences, notes Pellicoro. The dance, tellingly, has spawned a host of sister dances, including the Chicago bop, Chicago step, and Chicago-style swing. Perhaps it’s just pure coincidence, then, that Chicago’s a letter away from being the Lindy City.
Where to Go: The Drake Hotel. Rooms start at $145 per night. Stop in for classes at Big City Swing, where you’ll find all variations on the Lindy/swing theme.