Just 'cause we're queer doesn't mean we can't tango, swing, and salsa with our partners. Sure, there are great places to shimmy and shake while trying not to spill our mojitos. But for those of us who wish we could work the graceful angle a little more, well, there's hope for us yet. Parties abound where knowledgeable teachers provide a preparty lesson, then let us float (or flop) our way around the dance floor. If we're lucky, we'll have so much fun we won't even remember the awkward trauma inflicted by our high school prom. No experience or partners needed for any of the parties below just flash a smile, make a friend, and get your ass on the dance floor.
Every fourth Saturday, the Metronome Dance Center becomes Baila Conmigo (1830 17th, SF; 415-252-9000, www.metronomedancecenter.com), a Latin dance party for all. Lessons are from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m., with dancing until around 11:30 p.m. Pay $15 for the lesson and party or $8 for the party only.
On the last Saturday of the month, the monthly women's Latin dance party, Mango (El Rio, 3158 Mission, SF; 415-282-3325, www.elriosf.com), boasts great food to go with your salsa. Show up at 3:30 p.m. for a salsa lesson, pay your $8 at the door, and let the DJ move you.
The Queer Jitterbugs (Magnet, 4122 18th St., SF; 415-581-1605, www.queerballroom.com) present a free dance party the third Saturday of each month at the Castro's healthy-living hang out. A lesson on the basics begins at 7 p.m. and lasts for an hour, with social dancing from 8 to 9:30 p.m.
Boot, scoot, and boogie, people. Country-and-western dancing is what Sundance Saloon (Space 550, 550 Barneveld, SF; 415-820-1403, www.sundancesaloon.org) is all about every Sunday (510 p.m., $5) and Thursday (6:3010:30 p.m., $5). So practice your "yee-haw!" and shine your belt buckle. Lessons start when doors open on Sunday and shortly thereafter on Thursdays and Fridays. Everyone welcome, but be over 21.
At Trip the Light Fantastic Friday Night Women's Dance (Lake Merritt Dance Center, 200 Grand, Oakl.; 510-763-1343, www.tripthelightfantastic.org), gay games silver medalist Zoe Balfour will lead you through a different dance style at 7:30 p.m. each Friday salsa, country, West Coast swing, waltzes, nightclub two-step, ballroom, and line dances. The party, which costs $10$20 on a sliding scale, starts after the lesson is over and lasts until 11 p.m. Don't be afraid, no experience is necessary. Just be brave.