Social Dance Tempos


When DJing social dance music, it's important to play songs with a good tempo.
Here are my personal tempo guidelines (tempos are beats per minute):



DanceSweet RangeExtended Range
Cross-Step Waltz114 – 122105 – 125
Rotary Waltz140 – 160135 – 170
Fast Waltz170 – 200160 – 210
Polka110 – 125105 – 140
Schottische150 – 165145 – 170
One-Step115 – 130110 – 135
Lindy Hop140 – 170135 – 180
Sweet Lindy115 – 135110 – 140
6-Count Swing 85 – 105 80 – 115
4-Count Swing120 – 140115 – 145
West Coast Swing100 – 120 90 – 130
Blues / Fusion65 – 90 60 – 100
Hustle115 – 125110 – 130
Club 2-Step80 – 8575 – 90
Salsa 90 – 100 85 – 110
Cha-Cha115 – 125110 – 130
Tango120 – 130115 – 140
Foxtrot135 – 170130 – 180
Quickstep 90 – 105 85 – 110
Merengue115 – 130110 – 135

Chart image download: png, svg, pdf

Sweet Range

If a song feels like a certain dance type and falls in the sweet range, it’s usually fine to play at that tempo.

Extended Range

If a song is at the low end of the extended range, it should feel more mellow.
If a song is at the high end, it should have more energy.

Outside Extended Range

Although it may be tempting to play a song outside the extended range, this is rarely a good idea. Modify the song’s tempo until it’s inside the extended range and make sure it still feels appropriately mellow/energetic.

(Exception: It’s fine to play an occasional special song like a really fast waltz. If there are less-experienced people in the crowd, make it clear that that the song is meant to have a challenging tempo.)

Sources

These tempos are based on Richard Powers’s guidelines, in addition to personal experience DJing at events like Friday Night Waltz and talking to friends who also DJ social dances in the Stanford area. Note that these tempos are specifically tuned for social partner dances (and not competitive ballroom dancing).