Slow Bal is also known as Slow Balboa. This seems to insinuate that Slow Bal is nothing more than a slower version of Balboa. Opinions are divided on this. But are the two dances so similar that they are almost indistinguishable? In this blog post we explain that Slow Bal and Balboa do indeed have the same foundation, but the performance and feel of the two dances are very different.
The main difference between Slow Bal and Balboa is the tempo of the dance. The name says it all: Slow Bal is mainly danced to slower Swing music. For the music connoisseurs among us: between 70 and 100 beats per minute. Slow Bal music has a more romantic feel than Balboa due to the slower tempo. Balboa, on the other hand, is mainly danced at the higher tempos (190 to 240 bpm). Due to Balboa’s higher tempo, the footwork is different. Slow Bal uses slows (2 count steps), quicks (1 count steps) and triple steps in the basic, whereas Balboa uses slows and quicks. The triple steps are used as a variation in Balboa.
You could also say that the feeling of the two dances is different. This is hard to put into words, but Slow Bal has a certain flowyness to it that Balboa doesn’t have.
There is little difference in the lessons. This mainly depends on the teachers who teach the dance. In both dances there is a great focus on the connection you have with your dance partner. It’s about moving together as one. In Balboa, the focus in the lesson is also on executing the techniques and steps as well as possible within the fast pace. At Slow Bal, on the other hand, we talk a lot about filling up the space in the music, because you have more time.
If you look at the size of the scene, you could say that Balboa is bigger in The Netherlands. It is danced in more places. However, Slow Bal is – at the moment – bigger and more active than the Balboa scene in Rotterdam. You can also see that the interest in this slow Swing dance is growing in other cities. When we look at the people dancing it, there’s really no difference. Everyone is great!
In the left video, Anni and Gasper are dancing Balboa. In the right one they dance Slow Bal.
Both dances are danced to Swing music, which means that the music has the same feeling and the type of rhythms are often the same. There are also many similarities in the movements. For example, Balboa has a Throw Out and Slow Bal has the Slow Out. Basically those moves or figures are the same, they are just executed in a different way. So if you master one of these dances, you can pick up the other dance faster. There are many people within the Swing dance scene who dance both Slow Bal and Balboa.
What makes both Balboa and Slow Bal unique is the fact that there is a lot of room for playfulness and your own interpretation, while you continue to dance together as one. The other Swing dances also have that space for playfulness and adding your own interpretation, but there is more distance between the dancers, so they do not move as one. There is room to add your own footwork and also to put your stamp on the dance in the role of the follower. With Slow Bal that is sometimes a little easier than with Balboa, because you have more time.
The video below is a ‘recap’ of our Explorers lesson. In it we show how the follower takes the initiative and then moves to the music according to their own interpretation.
Both dances are challenging to learn. Because the connection and moving together as one are so important, it takes some getting used to. Especially if you are not used to dancing in a close connection with someone. Slow Ball looks simple, but because it goes slowly, it asks for balance and it is more noticeable when something is not going well. Balboa, on the other hand, is unique in her speed and the challenge is to dance as efficiently as possible.
Read our other blog posts here in which we explain the similarities and differences between Slow Bal and other dances, like the one about Slow Bal and Latin.
Does this blog post taste like more? You can learn Slow Bal at Slowfeet Studio. The 12 week courses start in January, March/April and September and we regularly organize socials where you can follow an introductory workshop. Click here for our calendar. Are you curious about Balboa? Then take a look at our neighbors Swing in Rhythm, where you can take Balboa lessons.