Best places to get dance fever
Waltz: Vienna, Austria
Developed by Austrian and Bavarian peasants and picked up by the Habsburg royals before spreading to France and beyond, waltz remains important in Vienna during its ball season. If you feel like donning a ballgown or tailcoat and dancing this sensual style of ballroom dance, the season's fixtures include the lavish Opera Ball in the 19th-century Opera House. Fear not, novices do not have to humiliate themselves in front of Austrian society. Schools offer tuition to individuals and couples who want to learn to dance in three-quarter time. The fabulous classrooms include the Pallavicini Palace, where Mozart and Beethoven performed, and a baroque hall.
There's a list of dance classes in Vienna and the ball season starts on New Year's Eve and runs for three months.
Ceilidh: Edinburgh, Scotland
Most people have a brush with ceilidh dancing at some point in their life; whether the wedding's taking place among the heather in Scotland, or far away in the Celtic culture–loving New World. The partner-swinging dance began at social gatherings in Scotland and Ireland, so what better place for some coaching than the picturesque Scottish capital. Not only does Edinburgh boast a castle on a volcanic mound, but there are dance classes and ceilidhs for all levels of experience. In fact, ceilidhs are by definition welcoming, sociable affairs, and even the clumsiest of novices are normally encouraged to try their first reel.
Forget cigars and Che Guevara. Salsa, a sizzling mix of Latin and Afro-Caribbean rhythms, perfectly encapsulates sultry, multicultural Cuba. It is a sexy, hip-shaking dance, and teachers on the island happily show beginners how to move to the Cuban beat. The internet is awash with two-week, all-inclusive salsa packages, but, if you want some time to cruise in a clapped-out Buick, shorter courses are also available. When it is time to show off your skills, or to pick up some free tips, hit Havana's nightspots with a friend. There are usually half a dozen salsa nights happening; ask your hotel concierge or another local.
Cuba's alluring spots include Santa Clara, dedicated to all things Che, Havana's waterfront and Baracoa, a windswept town on the Atlantic coast.
Belly dance: Istanbul, Turkey
Exuding all the exoticism of the Middle East, belly dance has fascinated the West ever since Turkey was the centre of the Ottoman Empire. A fun place to learn the shimmying dance is the city where the Middle East meets Europe, and the Ottomans built palaces: Istanbul. Although many performances are touristy, göbek dans (belly dance) goes back centuries in Turkey, where it is more energetic and playful than in countries like Egypt.
Mandinka dance, West Africa
Wielding instruments such as the kora (21-stringed harp) and djembe drum, West Africa's griots, the descendants of court musicians, rightfully sit at the forefront of world music. While visiting the region to see, say, Toumani Diabaté play in Bamako, Mali would be remarkable enough, you can also learn to groove like the folk at the clubs and festivals. A cultural or community centre is a good place to find a teacher who can show you some traditional Mandinka dances, which involve a lot of drama and rituals.
Outfits such as Senegal's Jamo Jamo Arts also run dance-focused trips. Arguably the best West African dancing destinations are Senegal, with Dakar and its Atlantic coastline, and Mali, for the Sahara, River Niger and Bamako.