Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

What is Cotillion?

Cotillion is a club that balances competing and performing with extensive socializing and social events. Every quarter our members participate in social nights, dance parties, intercollegiate competitions, and formal events. As a member, you’ll get the chance to engage in some or even all of these great activities, depending only on how much you want to participate.

Get to know some outstanding UCSB students and learn dance skills that you can show off at both social events and competitions!

How much does Cotillion cost?

Each quarter during the school year costs $22 for students and $48 for non-students. With at least 8 hours of practice time/floor space each week, that’s 37 cents an hour for students and 80 cents an hour for non-students! A pretty good floor rate if you ask us!

Do I need previous dance experience or a partner?

Absolutely not! We have group lessons each meeting that are VERY beginner friendly and will take you from two left feet to two competition ribbons (one for you and one for your partner).

You do NOT need a partner to enjoy Cotillion; all Cotillion lessons & practice are completely doable without partners. You only need a partner if you are interested in competing, in which case our comp team captain/officers can easily help you find one in the club!

I’m new. What do I do when I arrive at Cotillion?

Hello and welcome! Make sure you arrive 10 minutes before the start of each class. We have special warm-ups/drills that are only during the first 5-10 minutes, so be on time. If you’re just hanging around, please feel free to introduce yourself to one of our wonderful officers, and they’ll take care of the rest. 😉

What should I wear?

We recommend wearing clothing that you’re comfortable moving around and stretching in, such as sweats/track pants and a t-shirt. As for shoes, anything from sneakers to tennis shoes to ballet flats. If you have actual dance shoes those are welcome as well!

What is open practice?

Open practice is unstructured floor time, where you can use the room in Rob Gym to practice during the weekends. These are not Gaucho Rec lessons, it is simply space you can use to work on your dancing, whatever that means to you. Occasionally some seasoned Cotillion members will lead advanced workshops during this time, so if you are ready to go more in depth than the weekly lessons this could be a good opportunity for you! Workshops will usually be posted on Facebook and you can find our page under Cotillion Dance. To partake in open practice, just bring $10 the first time you come and give it to an officer. $10 will cover you for the entire quarter, and it helps us pay for the cost of the room.

Do I need dance shoes? Where can I find a pair?

You are more than welcome to show up to Cotillion in anything from sneakers to tennis shoes to ballet flats! As long as they’re closed-toe shoes (i.e. shoes that aren’t flip-flops), they are perfectly fine for use in Cotillion.

After a certain amount of time (totally up to you), you may consider investing in a pair of dance shoes. Although they aren’t necessary for participating in Cotillion, many of our members enjoy dancing in shoes specifically made for dancing and performing, as they can enhance the appearance and experience of your dancing.

All Cotillion members enjoy really good deals on dance shoes because we all frequent specific stores together and get huge group discounts. We take regular “shoe trips” down to these shoe vendors; speak with our comp team captain or another officer for more info. 🙂


What is this “dancesport”/”competing” I keep hearing about?

Each year, members of Cotillion participate in various intercollegiate competitions. Although you are absolutely not required to compete to be in Cotillion, we have fantastic resources for those who do wish to compete, and strongly encourage everybody who wants to become a better dancer to compete.

You can compete at any level, even when you are brand new; there are plenty of competitions with beginner divisions. If you are interested in more details, don’t hesitate to ask our comp team captain or one of our officers, or check out our dancesport page.

I’m new to dancing. Should/can I still compete?

Absolutely! Most competitions have newcomer divisions meant to give beginner dancers a chance to compete. You’ll find that most of our best dancers started competing early on in their dancing careers. Competition is one of the best things you can do to become a better dancer! You don’t have to be great to compete, but competing will eventually make you great!

I don’t have a dance partner! Can I still compete?

Of course! Finding a dance partner can be daunting, especially for beginners! Have no fear, new members are constantly joining our ranks, and the chances are good that you’ll find someone appropriate for partnership.

Oftentimes simply asking an officer of the club for assistance can form lasting partnerships. Please speak with our comp team captain Elena Morozova for details!

What are dance competitions like?

Most dance competitions are structured identically. Competitors participate in several events, with each individual event determined by the dance style and competitor level. For instance, as a beginner interested in Latin, you can compete in events such as Newcomer Level Cha-Cha, Newcomer Level Samba, and Newcomer Level Rumba.

There are more nuances and rules involved in competition, but that’s the basic structure to competitions. When your event is called, you get out onto the dancefloor and dance for 90 seconds alongside the other competitors in your event. Highly trained judges will watch each event and select the couples they think should advance/win in their event.

If any of this seems confusing, don’t worry! Cotillion spends an entire class before large competitions doing a practice run and simulating the competition experience. We’ll make sure you’re well prepared for your (first) competition!

How do I prepare/what should I bring for my first competition?

Glad you asked! This list can be found on our competition page.

Do you recommend private lessons?

If you are considering participating in competitions, most definitely! Private lessons are incredibly helpful and can boost your skill and rank faster than anything else can. One of our members wrote a fantastic article going over the details and perks of private lessons. Check it out!

Social Dancing

What is social dancing?

Social dancing is what it sounds like: low pressure, high enjoyment dancing where you can ask anyone to dance and then thank them and switch partners after each song ends. On top of being formidable competitors/performers, members of Cotillion are also fantastic social dancers, and can bust out their moves on the spot at social dance events and parties.

Are there opportunities for social dancing?

There are many chances to social dance in cotillion! The last 20-30 minutes of each Tuesday/Thursday meeting is devoted solely to social dancing. We will play the dance styles that were recently taught and then take requests!

In addition, we have social dancing nights with the group Strictly Social on most Monday nights. We highly recommend their events as well; they typically start with free beginner friendly lessons before having social dancing the rest of the night.