The ‘First’ First Dance
While the first dance between a bride and groom is commonly accepted as a modern European and American wedding tradition, it is uncommonly known why. There are various theories to how this ritual began.
One explanation comes from the Eastern European idea of a formal ball. The old-fashioned concept of “opening the ball” gave the guests of honor, who were usually the persons of the highest social position, the privilege of taking on the dance floor first and commencing the evening’s festivities. European immigrants danced at their weddings in America, and it is believed that this dancing became mainstream as post World War 2 immigration slowed down and immigrants grew into the Middle Class of America.
Another explanation reaches far back into time when a man got his bride by literally “taking” her. This bride kidnapper would show off his hunting skills and “catch” to watching warrior friends by marching around the fire with his stolen bride. This display would occur before festivities, said to be mimicked today as the first dance often commences the wedding reception.
Regardless of the history of the first dance, the tradition has become an image and metaphor for the first time a bride and groom will celebrate their formal union in front of family and friends. From customary sentimental waltzes to creative and crazy choreographies, the first dance has evolved to be a staple in American couple’s weddings.
Article by Bella Ballroom instructor, Ziva.
Bella Ballroom helps couples create an elegant and fun first dance at our dance studios in Orange County, CA. Check out our wedding dance lessons page.