From Rock’n’roll to forro: where to dance in Moscow

June 12
Parks and pedestrian areas

Moscow’s parks have opened a new summer dance season. Muscovites can dance at open-air discos and attend dance workshops. Where to go to dance in the open, look for friends, or quickly learn new dance moves? Find it out on

Sokolniki: from dancing 'vauxhalls' sites to acrobatic rock’n’roll

Sokolniki Park has had places to dance for over a century and a half. The Krug (the Round Site, today known as the Fountain Square) has been a venue for classical music concerts, invariably followed by dancing as midnight hour approached. At various times, famous musicians and performers used to entertain the audience here. Among them were celebrities such as Fyodor Shalyapin, Leonid Sobinov, and Antonina Nezhdanova. Next to it was Ye.V.Zimina’s “fun garden,” which featured a refreshment stand, a tearoom, an open-air theatre, a billiards parlour, a nine-pin bowling alley, a shooting gallery, and a dance hall.  

The park remained open even in October 1941, when the German troops were approaching Moscow. It shut down only during the most dangerous period. Sokolniki was reopened in March 1942. The first to resume operation were the symphony variety orchestra, dance veranda, and green theatre. Here figures such as Lydia Ruslanova, Mikhail Garkavi, Grigory Yaron, Vladimir Bunchikov, and Vladimir Nechayev performed and inspired the audience for victory.

Today the park has four dancing platforms, each with a history of its own. For example, the current stage Tsentralnaya in the 1st Luchevoi Prosek lies where, back in the 19th century, were the sites for the city’s popular festivities, known as the Old and the New Merrymaking. The state leased out a plot where the Old Merrymaking used to be held. This was “for building a dance site with attached catering facilities like a buffet with a kitchen and other entertainment establishments.” The then admittance fee was one rouble. The ladies’ and children’s tickets were half-priced.

Before the Revolution, in place of today’s Tantspol 3+ were the Sokolniki City Theatre and Garden. In the early 1920s, a Trade Unions’ Garden was opened on a small cordoned off area. The admission was paid. Here the orchestra played, open-air performances proceeded, refreshment room was open, dances and entertainments were arranged. The garden did not operate long. The fence around it was removed as early as the late 1920s.

Today, not far from Maisky Prosek (on the left side) is a dance veranda. The first dancing site in the area emerged as early as the 1930s.

Nowadays, dance lovers come together at Sokolniki from all over Moscow. The park has become for them a place for personal contacts and acquaintances. Rotonda stage (not far from the central entrance) is open all the year round. The events and activities on Tsentralnaya and Tantspol 3+ stages as well as on the dance veranda are held according to schedule (admission to Retro+, Our Court’s Tunes and ballet dance parties on the veranda is paid).

This summer, Sokolniki’s standard entertainment content was supplemented with two-hour boogie-woogie dances and acrobatic rock’n’roll on weekends.    

The acrobatic rock’n’roll is a kind of sports combining a dynamic dance and acrobatics, while boogie-woogie is a fast acrobatic dance, usually performed by a couple to a rhythmical jazz music.

Boogie-woogie master classes take place each Saturday from 17.00 to 19:00, while those of the acrobatic rock’n’roll on Sundays from 17:00 to 19:00. The venue is Rotonda stage. Read more on the park's website. 

Gorky Park: from hustle to Irish dances

The tradition of dancing parties in Sokolniki has been supported by Moscow’s other parks. Each of them has opened its dancing floor, holds discos and master classes.

For example, up to 500 people at a time gather in Gorky Park for dancing on the Pushkin Embankment.

We have three dancing floors on the Pushkin Embankment,” a Gorky Park official said. “One of them is for Latin American, ballet and historical dances (on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays), the second is for hustle dances that evoke an active improvisation and interaction of the two, the third is for bachata and salsa. These are mainly for open-air events, i.e. free dances with a D.J. They draw a lot of those wishing to dance and crowds of watchers.”

Quite popular with Muscovites are another two dancing floors in Gorky Park. Its Central Alley has become a venue of master classes in swing, Irish dances for children, and other training sessions. The organizers say that the little guests became infatuated with master classes in children’s ballet. At each practicing session, the girls receive ballet shoes and they willingly master the first ballet movements.

Where to do yoga this summer: sessions to be held in 37 Moscow parks

Another dancing site is the wooden terrace of the Muzeon Park. Yoga classes are held here on weekdays with Latin American dance classes on weekends. Each Saturday, senior dancers come to perform here. They can be joined by anyone. On the same day, dancing lessons for beginners take place under a special dome.  

Admission to all dancing floors of the park is free, master classes are conducted according to schedule. Read more on the park's website.

Bauman Park: forro and swing

Bauman Park has two dancing floors, the main stage Rakushka and open-air stage Tabletka, both allocated for dances. Here dancing parties are arranged at which everyone is welcome, and master classes are held to teach the simplest movements of dancing couples for anyone.

Master classes for swing groups, i.e. couple dances to jazz music, have been conducted in Bauman Park for quite a few years. The organizers say they are attended by the most varied audience, from youth to participants of the Moscow Longevity program, from novices to experienced dancers. The jazz dance classes are held practically every day.

Now the jazz dances are supplemented with forró, a Brazilian dance with simple basic movements that is quickly growing popular in Moscow.

Also, many come here for milonga, i.e. Argentine tango parties. One needs nothing for dancing it, except a desire, so the organizers say. One can come with friends or alone, since a dancing partner will be surely found.

All the dancing events and practices proceed according to schedule.

Izmailovsky Park: from zumba to fitness dances

Solnechnaya  stage’s dancing floor in the Big Round Alley near the chess and drafts pavilion is becoming a centre of attraction in Izmailovsky Park, all the more so that admission to the floor is free.

In addition, on Saturdays they hold here zumba classes (dancing fitness program based on popular Latin American rhythms and developed by Alberto Pérez, a fitness instructor from Colombia). The practices are scheduled to be held all through the summer, except rainy days.

Detailed schedule is available on the Website.

Tsaritsyno: from pas de grace to relax

The dancing program of the park at Tsaritsyno reserve museum includes retro discos and master classes in a variety of trends, from hustle to pas de grace (a French term meaning “a step of grace elegance”).

Initially, as Tsaritsyno's officials said, the central dancing floor was designed as a senior citizens’ place of relaxation. However, it quickly became popular with frequenters of the park. Then dancing lovers from other districts also started coming here. As new trends emerged, for instance, hustle, their grandchildren, too, became drawn to the dancing floor.

In addition, this is a venue for sporting events in qigong, yoga, joint gymnastics, and historical, popular and ballet dances.

Admission is free. Classes are held according to schedule.

Zaryady: rock’n’roll and boogie-woogie

This summer, twice a week, rock’n’roll and boogie-woogie will be performed in Zaryadye Park. The classes will last till 31 August.

“This is a project of the All-Russia Federation of Dancing Sports and Acrobatic Rock’n’Roll, “Acrobatic Rock’n’Roll and Boogie-Woogie Lessons in Parks”, which is held in Russia since 2015 and involves more ever cities each year,” said Aleksey Skopintsev, the Federation’s representative. “This year, Zaryadye has been chosen as the central floor. All through the summer, free two-hour acrobatic rock’n’roll and boogie-woogie sessions will take place in the Park’s large amphitheatre, with professional trainers teaching basic movements of those dances. No special skills are needed for this. Everybody is welcome here, adults and children alike. Dancing rock’n’roll and boogie-woogie is healthy and beautiful!”

Free boogie-woogie classes will be held each Monday, acrobatic rock’n’roll master classes will be held each Wednesday. Beginning at 17:00. The classes will be conducted by experienced trainers and sportsmen, champions of Russia, Europe, and the world. Read more on the park's website. 


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