Balboa is a partnered swing dance from California. Many dancers love Balboa because of the subtle communication between the lead and follow, including weight shifts, which most viewers cannot see. As a result, Balboa is considered more of a “dancer’s dance” than a “spectator’s dance”.


Balboa is a dance that originated in Southern California during the 1920s and 1930s. There are two types of Balboa – “Pure Balboa” and “Bal-Swing”.

Pure Balboa started as early as 1915 and gained popularity in the 1930s and 1940s due to crowded dancefloors, where you would get kicked out if you broke away from closed position. Pure balboa is danced primarily in a close embrace and is led with a full body connection. Bal-Swing, in contrast, gives more space between the partners and incorporates dynamic rotational movements. With the exception of specialised competitions, modern Balboa dancers almost always dance a mixture of these two categories within a single song.

Music & Style

Balboa can be danced to swing music at any speed and most balboa moves give both partners a lot of opportunity for musical expression in footwork variations. Because the basic step can be made very small and precise, Balboa is best known for being danced to fast music (over 200 beats per minute). Balboa can also danced to much slower music (100-120bpm), where it’s imaginatively called ‘Slow Bal’ with the basics extended to include intricate footwork and variations.

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