Best Last Dances

They danced on the deck of the Titanic, the doomed passengers, even as the mighty ship went down amid icebergs, their would-be saviors on the passenger steamship Carpathia still hours away and much too late. A final, decadent act of defiance, their last dance was a waltz to the “Songe d’Automne” or, some say, to the morbid but strangely hopeful “Nearer My God to Thee.” (No one knows for sure, because the four band members took their final, ghoulish plunge as well, violins and all.)

Closer in time and space, Vivo Dancesport has instructors who will teach you to waltz — or foxtrot, quickstep, cha-cha, jive, rumba or tango — like your life depended on it. The center’s strength is strict-form international-style dance, versus the freer, more expressive American style,although classes are available in both.

Dances are taught in a partner format, with the end goal being one beautiful lady in a glittering, sequined, feathered gown gliding gracefully across the dance floor in the arms of one elegant gentleman in a dapper suit with tails. Beginners are, of course, very much welcome, though they will have to make it past the arch, bitchy Chinese girls at the front desk (such gorgeous posture!). For more of a challenge, private lessons whip amateurs up to competition level — students at Vivo are in perpetual, year-round training for the Embassy Ball, the largest dance competition in Los Angeles.

Teachers come from Russia, Poland and Austria as well as the United States, and are some of the top dancers in each of their repective home countries. All are either past medalists or current professional-level competitors. Between them, Alan Dixon and Stuart Cole, the principal instructors and choreographers (and co-owners of the studio), have enough world- and national-level championship medals, ribbons and trophies to, well, sink a boat.

Be forewarned: The Vivo studio — a small anteroom with a glass case of trophies, and, behind French doors, two large rooms outfitted with Canadian maple floors — is way out in Hacienda Heights, which is far for L.A. dwellers, but not quite as far as the frigid North Atlantic. Let the unwashed masses sway their hips mindlessly to the beat. You, civilized you, will at least learn the proper steps before (literally) going out dancing.

17160 Colima Rd., Suites A & B, Hacienda Heights, (626) 965-6595 or

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