Between my me and my husband we have 4 left feet… The thought of awkwardly tripping all over each other or swaying lifelessly for our first dance as our friends and family watched on me queasy. My original plan was to DIY our dance routine by just using our favorite resource, YouTube! (Seriously I used this to learn how to swim.) Time slipped by — fast forward to February with the wedding around the corner! While browsing Groupon I noticed a deal for dance lessons at db studios which was very conveniently located for us. Of course I browsed reviews ahead of time to make sure we weren’t walking into a trap, and noticed that they had several glowing reviews. What did we have to lose trying them out? (BTW they also just started April 2016.) Congratulations to db studios too for celebrating their 1 year anniversary!
Another similarly priced location is Dance in Boston (DiB). Many other dance studios do not even publish their rates online and you have to call to get more info.
We decided that our first dance song would be I Am Always Gonna Love You by Jon McLaughlin  before we started our lessons. That way we could hit the ground dancing!
The owner and instructor, Kendall, responded immediately to our initial e-mail inquiry and we set up a FREE consultation dance lesson with her. I may have inadvertently made her update the website since it now says the Groupon/Yelp deals can’t be combined. Oops!
“Free lesson cannot be combined with any other offer, including Groupon/Yelp etc. Groupon- Not eligible for free consultation offer.”
True to their website slogan, Kendall is an extremely knowledgeable, patient and friendly instructor! She has a strong background in competitive ballroom dance and has over a decade of experience teaching adults and kids. We felt comfortable trying new steps the entire time with her guidance. We even overcame my biggest fear of being dropped while doing the dip finale. We did not create specific choreography for the dance so each time we performed the song, it was slightly different. There were so many times where we were either too early or too late for the ending!
Quality of Service
Kendall welcomed us to db studios, located within the Newton Congregational Church. The private lessons are rehearsed on the upper stage, mimicking the size of most venue dance floors. For the consultation she listened to our song to determine what type of ballroom dance step would fit best and we decided on the fox trot. We had the option of another style, but it did not allow for us to move around the stage as much. During the first lesson we learned the basic step as well as the box step. (I know, we are starting from the ground up here.) She worked with each of us individually by having us follow her side by side along with dancing with us directly. For each class she took notes to give us specific points of improvement. One noticeable instance was for my husband as the leader to give me, the follower, clearer signals of when to turn and what step to transition into. The subsequent 45 minute lessons were all in a similar format. We were up front with her about our limited budget and wanting to get the bare minimum to get by without looking like fools during our song.
Each of the times we’ve conversed with Kendall through e-mail she has responded in a timely manner regarding setting up lessons. She also sends out a calendar invite so we can add it to our own for a reminder. The policy on the website for rescheduling or canceling is at least 24 hours notice, which makes sense since no one likes changing plans last minute. We received a nice follow up e-mail from Kendall asking us how the wedding went, however it was a bit premature (2 weeks before the actual date). We let her know to check in at the end of the month, but didn’t hear back until I had sent multiple other update e-mails and shared content on social media. Not really a big deal since we had already finished our lessons. db has established their presence on various social media interfaces such as Facebook and Instagram, which is all managed by the owner. I also appreciate how they proudly display their Yelp reviews on their website.
“I look like I’m reeling in a fish” – Dana / Hanna’s Other Half
I was worried that our lack of any dance experience would result in slow progress, but Kendall structured the lessons within our set budget so we felt like we were making progress after each class. She encouraged us to practice specific steps and gave us pointers for specific portions to practice on our own. We practiced several times on our own at a local gym so we could save $10 for using their dance studio and didn’t waste time reviewing at our next lesson. Kendall calculated the remaining balance of our final payment and did not rush us to pay immediately. We ended up completing the transaction during the last class.
We used a Groupon with a complimentary consultation, that way we were able to save a significant amount of money (could skew the value assessment). There’s also a Yelp offer you can buy as well. As db is a relatively new business I imagine that this is just to create a clientele base and to generate positive buzz. The nature of these deals are limited time offers and not stackable with any other promotion
I will review based on the full price of $85 per 45 minute lesson. (I could not find on the website the specific reason the lessons are 45 minutes instead of 60 minutes as some other locations.) Prorated for 1 hour, the price is ~$113. db has a package when booking 10+ private lessons to also include a free group class for a test audience. Otherwise there are no other discounts for booking more classes aside from the referral program. You can also get one free private lesson for directly referring a friend.
For DiB (as mentioned earlier) the rate is $95 per hour and they include packages for bulk classes. Booking 5 classes is $425 (save $50) and 10 classes $825 (save $125). I cannot speak to the quality of the other dance studio since we have not personally taken classes, but I just wanted to give you another example for price comparison.
Overall our first dance live at the wedding was probably our best performance to date. I did not have time to be nervous since we went right into this after our reception introductions! All of the practicing paid off as our friends and family clapped at the points we had practiced for the spins. We are eagerly awaiting the professional photos and videos! I had one of my maids of honor take a video of our dance; it doesn’t have the proper angle of the dip but here’s a teaser clip on Instagram.
• First Dance 👣to @jonmclaughlin • Thank you so much @maya_says for taking this video for us on my phone! 💕 Yes that was the same guy we saw live a few weeks ago too bad we didn't get a chance to hear that song live though. I have no idea how to change the IG video trim settings from the beginning 😥. @dbballroomstudios #HannaWedsDana
We highly appreciated Kendall’s flexible hours as I often work quite late. We scheduled lessons starting at 8 PM because of this. It’s great that for Monday – Wednesday she is available until 10 PM! In addition, Kendall worked with our limited budget and we accomplished all that we wanted within the 3 official dance lessons. We learned the basic step, box step, treble step, w-step, and promenade with lady/man-turn and dual turn. My husband and I were not planning to have the dance (or wedding) of the century so having a fluid set of dance steps was perfect for us to perform our song.
- Decide on your first / last dance songs ahead of time that you want to work on.
- We listened to several artists that were meaningful to us and we just had to narrow it down to one song.
- By design I chose a relatively shorter song of 3:30 since I didn’t want to bore our friends and family.
- For our last dance song, which was not choreographed we chose CLEAR – NeedtoBreathe, which was a very long song at over 6 minutes to fade out the night. At that point most people had cleared out of the venue.
- Practice weekly outside of the class! You’re paying for the lessons so why not make the most out of it and make sure you’re comfortable with the steps.
- Check if your local gym or church has a free room you can practice in or a large empty space. If you don’t have either you can also practice outside and have one of your friends record you so you can self-assess.
- Make eye contact, smile and have fun – we had some issues with this and our roommate pointed this out when she helped us the week before the big day!
- Unless your guests have a background in dancing they probably won’t notice if you mess up so you don’t need to be too serious or stiff during the dance!
- Check out my Yelp Review as well to see more photos of the dance studio itself.
 Jon McLaughlin was the first concert my husband and I went to, so it was only appropriate for us to choose one of his beautiful love songs. We even got a chance to see him live again a couple of weeks before our wedding and meet him in person.