Positive Spin

Big fancy dance studios are great for students who can throw thousands of dollars at long-term contracts, but where does that leave the clumsy, cheap and commitment-phobic among us?

Thanks to Rob Haines, we can swing without the bling. Through his sole proprietorship, Rhythm and Motion, Haines leads group dance lessons every Wednesday evening at Mesa's Stardust Dance Studio. Beginning and intermediate dancers are welcome to drop in for the 90-minute classes -- only 10 bucks, no contract or partner required. And this is no amateur operation: Haines has been teaching for 25 years and, after a brief hiatus, is preparing to re-enter the competitive dance arena.

Not strictly ballroom, Rhythm and Motion teaches myriad moves, from swing and Latin to country and nightclub. By focusing on a different dance each month, Haines keeps students on their toes. A month of merengue wrapped last week; starting this Wednesday, August 6, Haines leads four weeks of waltz. He follows with cha-cha in September, salsa in October and -- demonstrating an impressive allegiance to variety -- the Hustle in November. "I always start from scratch on the first week of a month and then progress as far as the class level allows," Haines explains, adding that new students are welcome to join the class at any point.

While he teaches private lessons as well, Haines maintains that group instruction has its advantages. "Typically, the pace of detail is knocked down a bit, so you have a little more time to get the information. There's a social advantage, too, in that you actually have a chance to dance with other people."

As for potential students who might consider the waltz old-fashioned and unglamorous, Haines encourages them to give it a whirl.

"Being able to carry yourself in a waltz is something that you apply to a whole bunch of other dances," he says. "There is absolutely nothing like being able to hold your partner in your arms and dance slowly. It's a very sexy thing."