First you need to realize how very special you are. Not even 1 in 1000 Torontonians dances. Not even 1 in 10,000 Torontonians dances frequently. Even when there's great dancing music, and a dance floor, they won't dance. Next, there is not one place where you can go on any night of the week and dance! Either you go to a bar, where, perhaps one night a week there is music you can dance to, typically starting late at night, with no dance floor or a tiny one. Or you go to an occasional special event, organized by dance enthusiasts, in a rented Church hall or a gym, etc. Or very, very occasionally, there is a special event in a Hotel "ballroom" with a medium sized floor.
If you are a newcomer or a visitor from out of town, with a good attitude and a gentle manner, who loves traditional social dancing with or without dance experience, and who is somewhat adventurous feel free to contact me, and I will happily take you dancing, or at least give you recommendations.
If you live in Toronto, your best bet is to pretend that you are from somewhere else, where people like each other and themselves. Let's face it, Torontonians "don't dance". Fortunately you are not "typical". That's why you are here. So, what to do? Just do it!
If you don't have a partner, have never danced with a partner, and feel awkward about touching more than fingertips with someone of the opposite sex, I suggest -- English Victorian Country Dancing. If you like that, you can try Contra Dancing, which has a little more contact, and then Scottish, Irish, and Square dancing. All these dance forms are highly structured, so that you can develop a sense of yourself dancing with the music, a partner, and other dancers on the floor, without difficult steps or the need to lead or follow, or to improvise. No fancy steps to learn either.
If you do have a partner, you have quite a few more options. For example, you can go to a cafe or restaurant where there is music and perhaps a small dance floor. Or you can go the many fine dances where people go as couples. If you want a partner, contact me and perhaps I can find you one.
What about lessons? Lessons and traditional social dancing are two entirely different things. You don't need a license to dance. You don't need formal instruction before you can start dancing. Dancing is natural. Beginners should dance with good dancers, to "get the feeling". Once you have it, it's easy and much fun. The good dancers will be happy to dance with beginners, and the good teachers will teach you without saying a word, just by dancing with you. In fact, good dancers are easy to dance with, and excellent dancers can dance with anyone, especially beginners.
In the structured dance forms, such as Contra Dancing, dances are taught and walked-through, and there is a Caller who prompts the figures. At some of the couple dances such as Swing dances, there may be a (beginner) lesson before the dance. These lessons range from terrible to excellent. The better ones will teach you the secrets of dancing. Occasionally there are weekend workshops taught my famous Masters such as Steven Mitchell or Richard Powers. Such workshops are very special and well worth attending.
See also EVENTS and PLACES.
The rest is woefully out-of-date -- will be updated soon, when I get a chance ... especially if someone asks about it. 2010-04-09
Ratings of REGULAR dance events: QUALITY including overall friendliness | FLOOR quality and size of floor, acoustics and ambience of hall. | | PARTNER how likely are you to find one | | | EASE how easy is it to dance this form | | | | MUSIC how good is the music for dancing | | | | | * * * * * Contra * * * - + Scottish (There are several series. All are somewhat refined.) * + + . * Irish (several locations, several bands) * * . * * Square (real traditional dancing mostly outside city) * * - + + Danube-Suabian Club Sunday Dance Tea * + . + + Cape Breton + * + . + English Victorian + * . - + Simon's swing dances + * . - . TSDS' DJ'd swing dances --- THE FOLLOWING ARE NOT DANCES --- + . . - + Reservoir Lounge Mon-Thu small dance floor - - - - + Reservoir Lounge Fri&Sat too packed to dance