Beginners Team

Since dancing in a competitive manner is almost certainly new to you this page should give you an idea of what to expect over the coming year.

How the Beginners Team works

The Beginners Team is always a very fun and lively group. The aim of the team is to allow you to learn competitive dancing and enjoy some competition experience while having fun along the way. In the past, IC has always had a very successful Beginners Team, and this year should be no exception.

The Beginners Team is by far the most important group of people to the dance club and team as a whole as you represent not only the present but also the future. IC takes great pride in returning home with trophies in the beginners category at every competition. The main team of the future is built by this year’s beginners.

The team usually takes a few weeks to settle down as people decide on their priorities and figure out their commitments for the year. As the competition season draws near (usually from late November to March) you will be partnered together so that you can concentrate on dancing with the same person. Practising well with your partner is a crucial part of the sport, so it’s a good idea to get along with them!

Hopefully the social outings throughout the year will help you to get to know your partner, the rest of the beginners team and everyone on the main team as well. There is nothing more important to the club than group commitment and team spirit. Please don’t be afraid to talk to and ask more experience couples for help as well as advice.


Most weeks, the beginners team has a one-hour Latin class and a one-hour Ballroom class with our professional dance coaches Marika and Laura respectively. Additionally, on Saturdays the Beginners Trainer will run a two-hour supervised practice session to help you perfect your technique.


Main article: Competitions

Competitions are at the heart of what all the practice is about, so there is a lot to talk about. Throughout each competition day there are a number of events which are broadly split into three parts:

Open Competitions

During the day, there are a number of open competitions, so called because anybody is entitled to enter them, although there do exist some restrictions on the combinations of events one may enter simply due to the pressures of time.

Most competitions are split into four categories for each of Ballroom and Latin: Beginners, Novice, Intermediate and Advanced. You will be entered into the Beginners category.

This means that in the morning you will be dancing the Waltz and the Quickstep, while in the afternoon you will be dancing the Cha-Cha and the Jive, using routines that you will have been taught over the preceding months.

To clear up some confusion about the terminology of the dancing world: the programme may refer to the ballroom dances (i.e. Waltz, Quickstep, Tango, Foxtrot and Viennese Waltz) as either Ballroom, Modern or sometimes Standard. This comes from the fact that the word ‘ballroom’ technically encompasses the Latin dances as well, and is therefore a great source of confusion. You will also learn that you can tell how experienced a Latin dancer is by the number of times they say ‘Cha’ to describe the style - a beginner might call it ‘Cha-Cha-Cha’ (as in the rhythm that it has), a Novice might call it a ‘Cha-Cha’, and an experienced dancer just ‘Cha’ - don’t worry, they’re all the same thing!

Team Match

The Team Match takes place in the evening, preceded by a colourful ‘Olympic Games’ style walk-on; when each team enters the dance floor in full costume behind their university banner and then battles against all the other teams in each of the four team dances: Waltz, Quickstep, Cha-Cha and Jive. This is danced in the same way as open events, with couples going through several rounds to get through to the final. We always need as much support as possible for the team match; shouting ‘IC’ and supporting the team is very much encouraged.

Running order

Each couple is given a printed number, which the leader wears on his back. (It is attached with safety pins, so remember to bring some!) In the first round everyone who has entered the event dances in a number of heats, typically with 10-15 couples on the floor at once and up to 10 heats for each dance. (Waltz, Quickstep, etc.)

At the start of each dance, the compere will read out a list of couples who have to dance on the floor in that heat. When your number is called out, you gracefully walk onto the floor, prepare yourself, and once the music plays you dance. Whilst you are dancing, the judges will be looking out for couples that they would like to recall to the next round, which is usually around three-quarters of the couples on the floor.

After all the heats in the first round, usually another event will take place giving you a chance to catch your breath and for the organisers to sort out who has been recalled to the next round. The second round then takes places exactly as the first, except that not everyone will be recalled to dance.

This continues until only six couples remain, at which point the final is held. As opposed to the preceding rounds, where judges only choose whether or not to recall a couple, in the final the judges are asked to rank the couples in order, and then a defined set of rules is used to determine the overall placings of the couples considering all the judges’ opinions. Every one of the finalists will receive a medal at the end of the day, and the best ones may receive a trophy.


Beginners have strict regulations as to what they are allowed to wear during a competition in order to ensure that everyone is treated equally. There are specific rules available on the Inter-Varsity Dance Association website; in summary, you are not allowed to wear any clothes that are specifically designed for dance competitions. Generally, anything purchasable on the high street is acceptable.


Men usually wear a neutral shirt (black or white is best), a tie or even a bow tie, and (loose) black dress trousers. If you would like to wear something atop your shirt, a waistcoat is preferable to a jacket as it does not restrict movement and prevents you getting too hot. Ladies wear a long skirt and an appropriate top.


Men wear a pair of black trousers (usually the same ones you wore for ballroom, especially at this level) and a tight-fitting long-sleeved black shirt (white would do as well). Ladies wear a shorter skirt (preferably above the knee to demonstrate your straight legs in the Cha-Cha) and ideally something colourful to ensure you have the best chance of being noticed by the judges in the first few rounds.


As for make-up, this is much more of a personal thing and cannot be described in writing. The best thing to do is speak to the wardrobe mistress or any of the more experienced members of the team and get advice from them. If this is your first competition, make sure you ask well in advance.