It was writer and educator William Purkey who said, “You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching, love like you’ll never be hurt, sing like there nobody’s listening, and live like it’s heaven on earth.” Luckily, when you come to Bellingham and Whatcom County, it’s pretty easy to find a place to get your dance on.
Whether you see dance as exercise, a way to meet new people, or just a whole lot of fun, our area has several options that will have you gliding (or stomping) across the dance floor. For help on this article, I consulted my fellow Bellinghamster and talented friend Damian Cade who has competed nationally and internationally and has been teaching dance since 2009. Damian’s favorites are swing, lindy hop, charleston, solo jazz and balboa.
To start, check out the Dance in Bellingham website for the latest up-to-date information. The site has a directory of dance clubs and groups as well as a calendar that can be filtered by the type of dance (tango, swing, salsa, contra, ballroom, etc.). There you’ll find free meet ups, drop-in gatherings and a whole host of classes.
Below are just a few drop-in dance suggestions for you to explore, whether you’re flying solo, in town for business, spending an evening with your sweetie or painting the town red with your gals.
As always, it’s a great idea to check individual websites before you go in case details have changed or a meet up is occasionally canceled.
Damian and Bailey McCully are instructors with BhamHop and regularly teach scheduled classes in a variety of dances including swing and lindy hop at Presence Studio.
Drop-ins for any class are always welcome at a rate of $15 ($12 for students) and the price can be put towards the monthly series. Their social dances occur opportunistically, when a band and venue are available, so check their website when you know the dates of your next visit.
- Mondays: 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.
Swing dance every Monday night to a live jazz band at Makeworth Market. There’s no cover, and it’s a beautiful atmosphere in Bellingham’s downtown arts district. While you’re there you can try their premium coffee, shop for chic presents, or try some beer, wine, cider and small bites in the tap room. You might even bump into Damian since this is one of his new favorite places to dance.
📷 : Julia Phillips
- First and third Saturdays: 7:30 p.m. – Midnight
On the first and third Saturdays of each month at Inspire Studio you can appreciate the social dance known as Blues Fusion. Blues Fusion pulls together elements of blues, swing, tango, Zouk, salsa, ballroom and others. No experience or partner is required.
The evening begins with a lesson and practical and then is followed by a social dance. All for just $5 to $12.
- First and third Saturdays: 9:30 p.m. – Closing
Salsa can be such a fun, sexy and energetic dance and so is the Cuban dance music that accompanies it. My friends love how fast and loose the dance is, saying that it’s a great way to meet new people.
Salsa Nights meet in the downtown Bellingham all ages, authentic Peruvian deli Café Rumba. The evenings start with an intro to Salsa dance class and are followed by hours of salsa dance party to a great mix of Latin tunes.
Damian says, “Antonio and Heather are fabulous instructors and people, and their classes feel like social dances. I can’t recommend them enough.”
The cover charge is just $5 and beer and wine are available for those over 21.
Tango with Tango Popolare and Rebecca’s TangoLife
Tango is such a sensual ballroom dance. I love watching the romance as they glide across the floor. Luckily we have more than one option in our area. Check out All Bellingham Tango to see their calendar.
Every third Saturday, Tango Popolare offers a evening of Argentine Tango. No experience or partner is required. Held at Presence Studio, the evening begins with a free orientation class from 8 to 8:45 p.m. followed by an evening accompanied by a contemporary playlist of Traditional, Nuevo and Alternative tunes. The Milonga is just $10 which includes some snacks and beverages.
📷 : Dwayne Rogge
If dancing with a partner isn’t your thing, there’s always dancing with your friends in Bellingham’s hopping night life. My gal pals and I go when we need to blow off some steam. We once celebrated a friend’s divorce by dancing the night away in several of these downtown clubs in Bellingham.
Rumors Cabaret is fun, centrally located downtown and unpretentious. You can dance into the night almost any night of the week to a DJ, bathed in a dynamic light show. This club is especially LBGTQ+ friendly and usually has an affordable cover charge (if any).
When you’re also in the mood for live music, you can dance during a show at Wild Buffalo, The Shakedown, or The Firefly. Choose your venue based on the kind of music you like to dance to.
Downtown Bellingham’s Wild Buffalo offers the widest variety of live music in our area. You can dance to reggae, hip hop, funk, soul, Americana, and electronic to name just a few. The dance floor is large, the sound is good and loud and some big names visit Bellingham on their way between Seattle and Vancouver. You’ll also see plenty of local performers and it’s usually quite a party.
📷 : Kenneth Kearney
The Shakedown is where to go for rock n’ roll, especially if you were ever a fan of 90’s grunge and other alt rock music. They also bring some big names to town while also being the go-to for local rock musicians. Co-owner Hollie Huthman was recently elected to the Bellingham City Council buoyed by support from the local music community.
The dance floor is always open and it can often become a mosh pit on the weekends.
The Firefly Lounge also has a comfortably worn wooden dance floor with a great view of the live band and occasional DJ. They host a wide variety of performers so check their calendar to find the right fit for you. Some nights are open mic, karaoke, singer songwriter, Celtic or sting band.
You can learn more about Bellingham’s other live music venues in my Insider Blog. – 9 Great Music Venues in Bellingham and Whatcom County.
Jazzercise & Zumba
If staying fit during your visit is your goal, I recently wrote about some of the ways you can stay healthy while visiting Bellingham and Whatcom County. But to use dance as your vehicle to fitness we have at least a couple options for you.
Both Jazzercise and Zumba offer options that allow you to drop-in on existing classes. If you’ve never been, you’ll see how much fun these aerobic and strength exercise dance classes can be.
Jazzercise’s One Week Trial pass is just $20 (plus tax). Their studio is located conveniently downtown. Ther crowd there is super positive and friendly and their post-workout photos prove that this dance burns calories.
Every level is welcomed and you don’t have to be a good dancer to enjoy the music and exercise of these classes. It’s a solid, fun work out. Love to Move Studioz on Iowa Street offers several Zumba classes each week. They offer a one-time $10 cash drop-in rate (excludes Yoga).
Of course, there are too many options to list them all here. Plan to try some of these dance options on your next visit.