Dance your way to happiness!
Dance With Liza
I am back to work after a fun vacation hosting relatives and visiting several national parks. I feel refreshed and ready to get to dance again after a much needed break.
Time away has taught me a few things:
After years of wondering if there were any teachers in San Diego fit to teach country swing, I've finally found one! He goes by the name of Country Sole and doesn't pass out his phone number to just anyone, but this guy sure can dance; and his classes are seriously sold out! I tried one yesterday (I had to register as a leader since the follower spots were all full). The first hour was mostly stuff I already knew; but if you're new to dance it would be beneficial. The second hour was very intense. We worked on the pretzel, the reverse pretzel, and a couple dips. The main takeaway from his class was the simplified footwork: country swing does NOT have precise footwork, it is all about showing the girl a good time with spins, tricks, dips, etc. Upon analyzing it, though, I did see a 3 count swing pattern overall. That allows you to go at faster speeds than the 4 count swing. He also reminded people to swing dance in the middle of the floor so as to not stop the flow of traffic with two-steppers. All in all, I am glad I found someone to spearhead the country swing movement. He does do private lessons; I asked! Here is his info:
Country Sole (Byran Roberson)
Country Swing, Line Dance, Two-Step
Country Swing group classes and private lessons
I'm happy to report that after all this time I have finally taught myself how to edit songs on the GarageBand app. What this means is that I can put pieces of songs together for a mashup or omit a verse if the song is too long... I'm still new at it and learning how to make it smooth, but am proud of myself nonetheless! My first editing assignment was to create a mashup of 5 song clips for a line dance performance for an 80th birthday party. I have been rehearsing the line dance performance for the last couple of weeks and am eager to perform it tomorrow night with my fellow line dancer, Lori King. Wish us luck!
I'm sad to report that In Cahoots, the famous country western dance hall saloon in Mission Valley will be closing its doors at the end of the year. I've been going there for over two decades and am sad to see it closing. I would assume that Moonshine Flatts and Moonshine Beach have put it out of business, but I really don't know why it's closing after 26 years.
There are still the following places to go country dancing in SD: The Regenade Bar in El Cajon, a true honky tonk bar, The Kearny Mesa Moose Lodge in Kearny Mesa on Tuesdays with occasional parties on other days (and a New Year's party at the Lemon Grove Moose Lodge), Dance For 2 in Kearny Mesa the last Sunday of the month, Starlight Dance Studio near SDSU for classes, Stampede in Temecula, the Moonshine bars, and line dancing through San Diego 'N' Line Dancers.
I have access to a huge social hall in North Park, the North Park Lion's Club, which is only 10 minutes from In Cahoots. It is currently available every night except Tuesday and Thursday. If anyone wants me to put together a country dance class or party, let me know. I've tried it in the past but I think In Cahoots won the competition. However since they are closing, maybe I should try again? There is not alcohol, though! We could make it teenage-friendly! Talk to me and let's arrange something!!! Which night would you prefer: Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, or Sunday?
Well I finally did it! I finally visited Nashville and Dollywood (and the Great Smoky Mountains) after at least 20 years of wanting to go. I saw live music almost everyday and really enjoyed myself. As a country dance instructor and DJ, it was really cool to see where it all began. I especially enjoyed the Songbird Tour of Nashville where real songwriters (like the kind who write songs for all the great country artists) sang for us and gave us a glimpse of the making of the music. There's so much that goes into a song before it becomes a hit. I met the songwriter who wrote Randy Travis's "Amen Kind of Love" and "No Hands". I also met a songwriter who has written songs for Keith Urban.
At Dollywood, I toured the inside of her old tour bus and her Chasing Dreams museum. Can you imagine living on a tour bus taking a bath in a tiny little tub that is just big enough for her 5 foot frame? She stands 5 ft. 7 in. with the heels and hair, though! Country music truly influenced my childhood, then I took a break from it and really got into hip hop and R&B, then came back to it and now I love both!
Best of all, I saw a live show at the Grand Old Opry and discovered musicians I had never even heard of who I thoroughly enjoyed such as the Brothers Osborne and Chris Janson. I am definitely going to use their music at some of my upcoming country DJ gigs!
I'm so grateful that I can do what I do. I would go nuts sitting in a cubicle with all the ants in my pants. (I commend those of you, like my husband, who can tolerate that kind of work!) Anyway, it has been a long journey and I am just feeling grateful for the following things:
First of all, thank you all for a fabulous 2017! I am extremely grateful for those of you who showed up to my dance classes last year, my birthday dance party, took private dance lessons just for fun or to prepare for your wedding or a wedding or event that you were attending, or used my DJ service. You rock! Also, thank you for your referrals and positive reviews; I feel the love! Let's make 2018 the best year yet at Dance With Liza. Here is to a fantastic 2018!!! I'll see you on the dance floor!
JANUARY DANCE CLASSES AND PARTIES
1. Country & Zydeco Line Dancing with Liza
Fridays 12:15-1:15pm starts Jan. 5, 2018
Dance For 2
7528 Clairemont Mesa Blvd. San Diego, CA 92111
$32 for 4 classes or $12 for one
For a list of the line dances we teach,
visit the bottom of our country page
2. R&B and Zydeco Line Dancing with Lori
Tuesdays 6-7:30pm starts Jan. 9, 2018
Hammond Hall-located beside Unity Church
311 Highland Avenue (corner of Lexington and Highland)
El Cajon, CA 92021
Contact Lori King for more info: 619-799-3383
3. Ballroom Basics with Liza
Wednesdays 6:30-7:25pm starts Jan. 10, 2018
North Park Lion's Club
3927 Utah St. San Diego, CA 92104
$40 for 4 classes or $15 for one
We will focus on Cha Cha in January
4. Country Two-Step Basics with Liza
(beginning to low intermediate level)
Wednesdays 7:30-8:25pm starts Jan. 10, 2018
North Park Lion's Club
3927 Utah St. San Diego, CA 92104
$40 for 4 classes or $15 for one
We will review the basic step and easy turns,
and learn the shoulder catch, duck-out, and weaves
5. Zydeco Dance with Live Band
Every 2nd Saturday
War Memorial Building
3325 Zoo Drive, San Diego, CA 92101
$10 (or $5 first time)
The band this month is Dennis G & The Zydeco Trail Riderz
Zydeco dance lesson from 6:20-7pm
followed by open dancing until 10:30pm
6. Zydeco Dance with Greg
Every 3rd Monday
6:15-9pm with lesson from 6:15-6:45pm
Kearny Mesa Moose Lodge 3636 Ruffin Rd.
San Diego, CA 92123
$5 cover includes a drawing for free prizes
For more info, contact Greg Benusa
7. Country Dance with Jody & more
at various locations with various intructors
Visit this website for details:
8. Country Dance with Trish
4th Sunday of the month
January 28, 6:30-9:30pm
Dance For 2
7528 Clairemont Mesa Blvd.
San Diego, Ca 92111
$10 includes a lesson at 6:30pm and refreshements
Contact Trish for more info:
9. Valentine's Dance with Liza
Wednesday, Feb. 14
North Park Lion's Club
3927 Utah St.
San Diego, CA 92104
Valentine's Dance Description:
Join us for a romantic nightclub two-step dance lesson from 6:30-7:15pm followed by mixed open partner dancing: Country 2-step, Zydeco, Jitterbug Swing, Nightclub 2-step, Waltz, Merengue, and Cha Cha. Light refreshments will be served. Partners not required.
$7 donation is requested to support the Lion's Club.
Next year is going to be the year of dance parties!!! I enjoyed my birthday bash so much that I've decided to throw dance parties at the North Park Lion's Club for some upcoming holidays. I would like to start with Valentine's Day. Would you prefer to have a dance party on Valentine's Day on Wednesday, 2/14/18? Or would you prefer to have it on the Friday or Saturday night before or after the holiday? Let me know!
I've been getting a lot of requests lately for swing dance classes as well as country dance classes. I've been considering starting a swing dance class on Tuesday evenings in North Park. Anyone interested? Which time would work better, 6:30 or 7:30pm? Honestly there are so many other swing classes in San Diego, I didn't think I needed to compete, but maybe folks want something simple and easy; not necessarily the swing era dances, but basic jitterbug swing moves that they can use out places. I have been sending people to the following studios for swing classes:
However, if you don't find what you're looking for, let me know. If I get enough interested folks, I will start a class!
I was going to start a country line dance class on Monday evenings, but I really need that time slot for private lessons. I'd be more willing to do a line dance class in the morning or afternoon, or on Sundays. For a complete list of all the line dance classes in San Diego, visit:
Finally, I taught country western two-step classes for the last couple of years and grew frustrated with unpredictable attendance: one week I might have 12 students, the next week 2. Is it just not popular or do people want wild and crazy country swing instead? The only way I'll teach another country dance class is if students pre-register so I know in advance who will show up. My time is valuable! If you're interested in a country dance class, let me know and I'll create one for later in the fall.
This has been the busiest summer season for DJ gigs! I was a DJ at a fabulous wedding at the Safari Park. The clients also took dance lessons from me so it was super sentimental being there as they performed their dance that they had worked so hard on--lift and everything! I also did a huge backyard barbecue, a corporate event, and a wedding rehearsal.
Now that the gigs have mellowed out a bit, I can take a little time off. When I return, it's time for some line dancing! I have had so many requests over the years for country line dancing, so I'm staring a line dance class on Monday evenings at 6:30pm at the North Park Lion's Club. The first class will be on August 28. Come on out and line dance with us!
I'm pleased to announce that our summer Ballroom Basics class was a huge success!!! Most students attended for the entire session and really got a lot out of it. They learned beginning level waltz, merengue, and 4-count swing (aka country swing) that is similar to hustle, but easier. Way to go guys! The next class starts on Wednesday, August 30 at 6:30pm at the North Park Lion's Club. Turn two left feet around this fall!
By request, we are starting a small group class that will teach ballroom, swing, and Latin dancing. Which kind of dance do you want to learn?
Have you tried the group classes at In Cahoots, Moonshine Beach, Moonshine Flats, Renegade, Urban Mo's, or Stampede? One thing they all have in common is the large size of their classes. That's all fine and dandy if you're just looking to socialize, but if you really want to learn how to country two-step and country dance, try our classes on Wednesday nights. Class sizes are small so you'll get plenty of one-on-one attention and we cater the material to what you want to learn. We'd be happy to teach a line dance after our two-step classes in February if everyone wants it.
By request, we will be offering a beginning country swing dance class this winter, probably starting in January. Contact us if you are interested and we will put your name on a list. We need at least six interested folks to start up a class. We will teach the basic step, spins for the girl and guy, fun, easy dips, and other cool moves. My husband and I love doing country swing, also known as four-count swing or push-pull, at parties. It is very useful and easy to do to a variety of pop music, country music and just about anything with a steady beat that is of reasonable tempo.
Our enthusiastic new dance instructor Caree Smail comes to us with passion, poise, and personality. Caree will be helping me teach wedding couples as well as other genres such as country, swing, waltz, social dance, and more at our Miramar location, students' residences, and possibly other locations in the future. Caree has a huge dance background and I've been training her to teach ballroom, swing, country, wedding, and Latin dance. Check out our about page for her bio.
I was trained to teach private dance lessons exclusively. That is just how the studio I started out at operated. Over the years, though, I have offered various group dance classes to make learning to dance more affordable and accessible to folks who don't have as much disposable income. The frustrating part for me, though, is that I never know who is going to show up since it's on a drop-in basis and most people don't want to commit for the whole month. For example, one week I might have eight students in my class and the next week three. I am trying to be patient with the process, but I need your help! I need you to tell your friends about our two-step dance classes and bring them to class! We consistently need 6-8 students per class to keep the classes going. What are you doing next Sunday afternoon?
Now is the perfect time to come up with some goals for the new year. Are you interested in improving your dance skills? Try one of our new classes for free or take advantage of our private lesson deal.
One of my favorite things about my job is getting positive feedback from students. I just got a letter in the mail that thanked me for working with this particular couple who didn't think they could accomplish much of anything. When they first came in, the lady was in a cast! She actually danced in a cast! The man was recovering from shoulder surgery. Talk about physical challenges to dancing. By the end of their lessons, she was out of her cast and cutting a rug and he was leading her to the best of his abilities with minor modifications that wouldn't hurt his shoulder. I commend this couple for trying to dance despite their challenges. Let me help you turn two left feet around today!
I just got a call from a student in my country two-step class asking if she can bring her 12 year old daughter and possibly 15 year old son to join the class. Of course I said yes. What do you think? Is 12 old enough to join an adult dance class? I started dancing when I could walk and then proceeded to join my father's Israeli folk dance classes shortly there after. His classes consisted mainly of adults to the best of my recollection. Did I feel awkward? Not that I can recall. Then again, folk dancing is usually done in a large circle. For partner dancing it's a somewhat different experience. However, I saw a young girl (probably between 10-13 years old) in another ballroom dance class for adults and she took to it like a fish to water. She got the hang of it quickly and seemed to enjoy herself. I don't think there is any harm in preteens and of course teenagers learning the art of social dancing so long as the adults are polite, accommodating, and respectful. Same goes for the kids.
I'm so excited to be dj'ing a party in a couple weeks. I used to be a DJ when I was in my early twenties, right after college graduation and it was an interesting experience. I was a DJ for a wedding at the Hotel Del Coronado once, where they requested raunchy hip hop songs over and over. I was a DJ for a school dance once where I played way too much Brittany Spears (now it would be Taylor Swift I'm sure). I also DJ'd many corporate parties during Christmas time. I love music madly and enjoy showing people a good time and that is what being a DJ is all about. This upcoming gig will be a large country western-themed house party. I am going to play country music and also teach some line dancing and two-step. It should be fun. Wish me luck!
I thought I'd share the top 5 keys to better balance when spinning in dance.
Too many times my students end up leaning back on their heels and that throws off their balance. Also, they forget to use their core, which keeps everything in check. Likewise, they keep their legs too straight which inhibits spinning. Spotting really helps when doing multiple spins, so you won't get dizzy. Finally, pretend that you're a kid sticking your arms out while twirling around and around. Kids inherently learn to use their arms for balance. Happy spinning!
I always ask new students what motivates them to learn how to dance. I wonder what their goal is and why they came in. Sometimes students are preparing for a wedding or event coming up. That's really easy, because the goal is clear and definite. Other times they just want to become good dancers, impress a girl, meet new people, and so on. It is important to know what is motivating you when you come in for lessons or classes because this motivation will carry you through the frustrating times when you might be struggling to learn something new. So I ask, what motivates you to learn how to dance?
It seems that every year I get obsessed about a particular dance. In the last few years I've really gotten into swing and country western two-step. Before that, I was all about salsa. This year, I am determined to tackle the country line dances. I was talking to one of the ladies on the dance team at In Cahoots and she was really encouraging. She advised me to just take their line dance classes. Fair enough, but I have to actually practice them over and over for them to sink in. So far, I've got "Flyin' Solo" down pat. I have a long way to go to learn the rest of the line dances, but I've got the whole year! Wanna join me?
I will never forget the first time I heard Zydeco music. I was still in college and stumbled upon Campland By the Bay by accident. It was there that I heard the music of Theo and the Zydeco Patrol on the main stage. It was mesmerizing and so joyful! Ever since that day, I have loved Zydeco music. Just a week ago, I saw them perform again at December Nights in Balboa Park and I was reminded once again how much I love Zydeco. If you are curious about this kind of music and dancing, check out some of these links:
In light of my father passing away last week, I feel compelled to share a bit about how he influenced me to dance. As a kid, my very talented, fun-loving, and spirited father used to drag us kids to his Israeli folk dance classes. From the time I was a toddler, I would watch my father dance exuberantly and passionately and try to copy him. While other American children were learning ballet, tap, and jazz dance, I was learning Israeli folk dancing. Yet dance is dance and rhythm, balance, confidence, and finesse are found in all genres. Some of my favorite dance memories as a kid were attending Greek festivals whereby large groups of dancers would circle around and dance popular Greek folk dances joyously. Opa! To this day, I still attend the Greek festival at St. Spyridon Greek Orthodox Church in San Diego every June.
From now on, whenever I do Israeli folk dancing, I will remember my late father and cherish the passion and ruach (spirit in Hebrew) that he instilled in my sisters and I. I am grateful to have the opportunity to channel my love of dance into dance lessons, dance classes, and dance parties regularly. If it weren't for my father's love of dance, I'd probably be sitting in a cubicle somewhere working on spreadsheets (not!). May your memory live on, dad.
In the spirit of trying new things and broadening my horizons as a dance instructor, I am currently teaching a wedding dance couple who is doing a freestyle-hip hop type dance to a reggae song. It's been an interesting journey so far, but one I'm proud of no doubt. I have always enjoyed freestyle and hip hop dancing, so I get to use my old bag of tricks rather than the ballroom syllabus. It's nice to try something different than the same old thing. Wanna try a unique dance for your wedding? Let's brainstorm and have fun with it!
San Diego County is a huge place. There are so many choices of great dance studios; how do you choose? Most people choose a dance studio because of it's location, reputation, or desired classes and class times. Over the years, I've settled on two great dance studios to teach at: Vernetta's Dance Studio in North Park and Synergy Dance Zone in Miramar.
Here's why I love these studios the most: the studio managers are fantastic and the locations are central. Working side by side with friendly dance instructors is more important to me than prestige, reputation, and other such things that might matter in the dance world. I love both the the studio managers because they are nice, friendly, organized, and successful. Every time I run into Vernetta, the owner of Vernetta's Dance Studio in North Park, we give each other a hug and chat about life, dance, and of course business. I really admire her for all her dance business accomplishments. She's so generous to share her wisdom and studio with me. Every time I run into Peter Edwards, the owner of Synergy Dance Zone in Miramar, he smiles, waves, and says "hi" to me, even if he is in the middle of teaching a dance class, which is just about every evening. I admire his dance business accomplishments too.
Here are two important factors that will help you choose which dance studio to learn at: proximity to your home or work and the level of privacy you desire. Most dance students want a studio that is close to where they live or work. Both Miramar and North Park are centrally located. I recently taught residents of Cardiff, Poway, Ramona, and Escondido at the Miramar studio. It's also close to La Jolla, University City, Del Mar, Encinitas, Solana Beach, Carmel Valley, Penasquitos, Scripps Ranch, Rancho Bernardo, Rancho Santa Fe, Tierrasanta, Mira Mesa, Clairemont, and Sorrento Valley. North Park is more convenient for students coming from central San Diego, South County, or East County. I recently taught residents of Alpine, Hillcrest, Del Cerro, and Chula Vista at the North Park location.
As for the level of privacy, some students want a very social studio environment. Synergy is perfect for that. There are always people there and their Friday night dance parties are super fun. Dance lessons are usually taught with other couples on the floor, so the teachers take turns playing their music. Also, the selection of group classes is great if you want to supplement your private lesson or meet others.
If you're more shy or introverted than sociable and outgoing, you might prefer a private studio environment. Likewise, if you're preparing for a wedding and need to replay your song over and over again, then Vernetta's Dance Studio is perfect for that. At Vernetta's, students get the entire studio all to themselves. This means the teacher can play her music as often as she'd like without disturbing the other students and teachers. Some students are willing to drive extra to North Park just to have such privacy, especially if they're new to dance, shy, or uncomfortable dancing in front of other people.
Which studio do I personally like better? It depends. As far as studio appearance and dance parties go, I prefer Synergy Dance Zone. It is gorgeous and sophisticated with a big wooden floor. Vernetta's Dance Studio has more of a kid's classroom feel; a majority of the classes taught there are for children, so there are kids' decorations everywhere. As far as teaching goes, though, I prefer Vernetta's Dance Studio, because I was originally trained to have the space all to myself when teaching private lessons, so it is what I'm most comfortable with. I love having the freedom of playing my music as much or as loud as I want. I have discovered, however, that if I time it just right, I can teach at Synergy Dance Zone when it's not as busy, for example before or after group dance classes. Therefore, my students and I can have more room to roam.
Overall, I am grateful to have two wonderful dance studios that I can teach at in San Diego county. I've tried other studios, but Synergy Dance Zone and Vernetta's Dance Studio are my favorite. See you at one of these studios soon!
YOU WERE MEANT TO DO THIS
Yesterday, while I was hosting a country-themed
high school graduation party, a former coworker of
mine who happened to be there, told me: "you were
meant to do this". She had only known me as a tour
guide at the zoo, so seeing me as a dance instructor
leading a group of teenagers in some line dances, country
swing dancing, and the Cowboy Cha Cha amazed her.
She told me that I was very good at what I do and then
her husband asked me if I teach at In Cahoots. I said no,
but I do teach country dancing at other places. It's always
nice running into old acquaintances, especially when they
have nothing but nice things to say about you! I'm sure
she's going to tell all of my old coworkers about my
bootscootin' booging at this in-home dance party that I