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The cha-cha is a tremendously fun dance. You'll be ready to thrill all of your friends and family at parties, bars, and family gatherings by showing off even the most simple dance steps. So put on your dancing cap and get ready to hit the floor. Here's how.

Counting the cha-cha
Like most popular dances, the cha-cha is danced to a modified four count beat. That means that the basic beat of the music is counted one through four: one, two, three, four...one, two, three, four. In the cha-cha, we count one and two as normal, but instead of counting three and four, we "count" cha-cha-cha. The first two chas are quick steps, which take the third beat. The last cha is another slow step. So, for this dance, we will count: one, two, cha-cha-cha...three, four, cha-cha-cha...one, two, cha-cha-cha. Remember, this doesn't actually mean that the music is any different; it's just our perception of it. We have to speed up our cha-cha count so that it will fit within the third beat of the music.

Learning the basic pattern
The cha-cha's basic pattern is very easy to learn. On the "one" count, step forward a little to your left, if you're a man. If you're a woman, step backward and a bit to your right with your right foot. For the "two," just bring your other foot up next to the first. On the third beat (the "cha-cha" beat), take two quick up-and-down steps going nowhere and then follow them with one last step for the final "cha." So the only step where you moved your body was the "one" count. On "two," you moved your other foot up to your first, and then you took three quick steps for "cha-cha-cha." Remember, the final cha gets a full beat before you start back up again.

After you've done this series of steps, you're halfway done. Because you took three steps on "cha-cha-cha," you will now start with the opposite foot from when you first started. Men, take your right foot and step backward and a little to your right, so you're now in your original position. Ladies, step forward and a little to the left with your left foot. For count two, bring your other foot to match and for the third and fourth beats, you'll step "cha-cha-cha" again. You're now ready to repeat from the beginning.

Practice the basic for a while before going on to the next step. You'll want to have a pretty firm grasp on it before you add the music. Now that you've got the step, you might consider changing your count one more way to make it more descriptive. Instead of counting one, two, cha-cha-cha...three, four, cha-cha-cha, you can count up, two, cha-cha-cha...back, two, cha-cha-cha, or something of that sort. It might help you by reminding you where you're going.

Add some music
While just about any four-four music will do for the cha-cha, play something with a Latin flavor to it if you can. It's always nice to dance to the music for which the steps were designed. Listen to the music for a minute or two, just to get a feel for it. When you're ready, start dancing. Continue dancing by yourself for now; it will help you get comfortable with the step. Practice this until you feel comfortable. Instead of going just forward and back, you can also dance to the left or right, as the mood suits you.

Add your partner
It's now time to try dancing with a partner. Men, stand in front of the women and just a little to the left. That way, you won't step on their toes. Now, put out your left hand. Ladies, take his left hand with your right. The man's hand should be on bottom. Don't grip too tightly, but use enough arm pressure to be able to feel what your partner is doing. Limp arms make dancing very difficult.

Men, put your right arm around her and place your hand upon her shoulder blade. Do not hold on lower than this, or you will be unable to lead effectively. Almost all of your lead should come from this hand unless you are twirling her on the other. Ladies, put your arm on his right shoulder. In order for a couple to dance well together, the man should pull the lady gently toward him with his right hand while she pushes gently away with her left. Stand as close together as is comfortable, but be aware that dancing too close is a bit difficult for a beginner.

Never watch your feet. Always keep your head up and your eyes looking forward. While it is nice to make frequent eye contact, beware of boring a hole in your partner's head by staring at him or her.

Start dancing
Now that you've got your partner, practice the step again. Men should lead the first step by adding light pressure from their left arms while relieving a little bit of pressure from their right arms. Dance the basic for as long as it takes you to feel comfortable. Don't worry about turning around or going left and right until you can dance forward and back without any difficulty and without anyone's toes getting stepped on.

Learn something new
Try doing quarter turns with each "one" count. By doing so, you can move yourselves all around the immediate area and get plenty of new scenery. Men, you can also twirl your partner on counts "one" and "two." Watching others and asking them for their help are the two quickest ways of learning new dance tricks. If you do any other kind of dance, feel free to incorporate skills from that arena to this one; sometimes this will make you look like the most original person on the floor.

Get out there and dance
Dancing is a lot of fun, but how will you know if you never practice what you've learned? There are many clubs and bars where you can dance, in addition to formal occasions, such as weddings. Take the opportunity whenever it arises and have a good time. You'll never regret it.