What is Balboa?

Do you know the dance Balboa? Not Rocky Balboa the movie character, but Balboa. Balboa originates from California and was the prevailing dance back in the 1920ties and 1930ties.

Balboa got created because the ballrooms were so full with lindy hoppers that the dancers simply decided to make up a dance that does not take much space. Balboa danced in closed position (called “Pure Bal) does hardly take any space.

Balboa is named after Balboa Peninsula in California a neighbourhood of Newport. Newport is also one place which holds a high level Balboa festival “CalBal Classic” where you can see the birthplace of Balboa and the infamous Rendevouz Ballroom. Watch the video below showing Pure Bal. 

Balboa today is danced in both open and closed position (due to the historical mix of the 2 styles) and generally what you learn when you take a Balboa Course is “Bal Swing”. Balboa with some Swing elements known in the other Swing dances. 

More Info about the history of Balboa here (In German) 

How is Balboa danced?

Balboa is danced to often big-band swing music of the 1930s and 1940s to artists such as Chick Webb, Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, Count Basie, and Duke Ellington usually at tempos of about 180 to 250 beats per minute. Nowadays, new existing bands play during festivals and dance evenings.

Balboa is led by the body mostly. The arms and hands are used to stop movements, to create the stretches which make the followers change direction or turn.

In Balboa, dancers embrace each other quite closely. This could put off some people who dont like to get so close to the other (or even same) sex.

Leading in Balboa

Nowadays there are still few women who lead in Balboa and even fewer male follows. However there are usually a larger number of men in a Balboa  class/course/festival than women. All right girls, now you know what to dance.. 

Specific Balboa Festivals

Today there are specific Balboa events already around the world. Swingplanit will show you where to look for near you. Also ask your local Balboa dancers for advice. chances are there is a festival near you or at least not too far from you. The best is to start going to a festival/dance evening and there you will get flyers and get to learn more from fellow dancers.

Oftentimes you will find Balboa at Shag Festivals such as Swing Paradise. These festivals focus on the speed of the music and therefore. Since Balboa is danced to faster music and so is Shag and St Louis shag it often is included in such festivals. And many Shag dancers also dance Balboa and vice versa.

Below watch the Swing Paradise Battle starting with Balboa. Have a look .. still today I can watch this video over and over again. 

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