You don't have to be an excellent dancer. You don't even need to know the most basic rockstep. You just have to show up.
Two San Luis Obispo dance groups have continued a tradition since 2002, dancing every Monday on the dance floor of the famous Madonna Inn.
"You don't need a partner, you don't need to know anything about dancing, we teach you," Lauren Chester, a dance instructor of the SLO Rugcutters, said.
Those crucial first steps can lead to a life-long love of dance and a date with the Madonna Inn dance floor.
"This is the only venue that I know of in California that's free on a weekly basis where the entire community comes out," Michael Hansen said, who helps teach classes. "This is just a gathering point for everybody here."
Authentic jazz, swing, Lindy hop, Balboa, Charleston, and Collegiate Shag can all be learned at these lessons.
"It's such a great way to connect with other people and with yourself and with music and feel just a great energy of the people around," SLO Rugcutter Lauren Mitchell said. "So this is our big open dancing place where you can learn everywhere and come out and play."
No pressure, no judging, just dancing.
"When you're dancing and you're really into what you're doing, the entire world melts away and the only thing that is happening is what is real in that moment," Mitchell said.
"It's just a solid, awesome community of people from all walks of life, all ages coming out here and sharing the love of dance," Chester said. "You get this itch and desire, you hear the music and you just want to move and so many people 'I can't dance, I have two left feet' and that has never been true."
For Hansen, it was life changing when he started dancing more than a decade ago.
"I can't really imagine life without it now," he said.
SLO Rugcutters classes are located in the World Rhythm & Motion Studio, with drop-in Level 1 class at 7 p.m. for $5. Afterwards, the group provides vintage and modern swing music to dance to at Madonna Inn from 8 to 10:30 p.m.
Cal Poly Swing & Dance holds classes from 2 to 3:30 p.m. on Sundays in room 05-225 on Cal Poly’s campus for $3. Social dancing begins after the lessons.
A swing workshop is set for this weekend. You can learn more here.