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Ways For Learning More About Photography

Photography is a fun hobby that can accurately be described as “Easy to learn, tough to master”. Even the most experienced photographers in the world would be hesitant to claim that they knew everything about the art, and in fact many professional photographers seem like fish out of water when tasked to shoot something out of their normal niche. One of the best ways to improve your images is to learn as much as possible about the art and science of photography. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to educate yourself about the finer details of photography.

Visit Art Shows

If you’re new to photography try to go to as many photography exihibits as possible. Viewing the work of celebrated and talented photographers will help you to learn about the stylistic differences found in the many sub-genres of photography (fashion, art, nature, etc) and may also serve to inspire you to take photographs you had never considered. The more you look at other’s photographer’s work, the more you’ll build your own skills in identifying what’s good and bad in an image so you can improve your own shots.

Join an Online Community

One of the good and bad things about the internet is you can find information on just about anything. For new photographers, the internet can offer information, job opportunities and even inspiration.Sites like have forums where members can gather to share their work for critique and ask more experienced photographers questions about lighting, film, composition, and anything else that may come up. Communities like this are for the most part welcoming, so don’t feel shy about being the “new person in town” – everyone was new at some point in time.

Learn From an Instructor

If your schedule and budget allows, you should consider taking a photography class at your local adults school or community college. Not only will you be instructed on the more “textbook” elements of photography, your instructor will likely have a list of great assignments that will help you grow as an artist. The best way to capture the full power of photography is to understand all of its different elements and photography classes can usually give you the road map and extra support you need to be successful.

Practice Shooting Every Day

This may be obvious, but the best way to learn photography is to practice taking pictures every day. Always try new things with your camera, shoot in different weather conditions and be willing to get creative with your images. The more situations you put yourself in with a camera, the more comfortable you will be with getting that perfect shot when the time is right. You should concentrate on learning one photography element at a time – like spending one day learning about contrast and another day working with depth of field. This will keep your shooting fresh and help you to get out of your “safe” zone.

Learning photography isn’t something you can do overnight, so if you’re truly interested in becoming a photo “master” be ready to invest some serious time in building your skill-set. Have as much fun as possible and always set out with a camera in-hand and a goal in mind and you’ll find that the learning part is often secondary to the experience of shooting. Don’t forget to stock up on memory cards (or film) and keep fresh batteries on hand!

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Classic Children’s Novels

Kid’s novels are the perfect way to help young ones acquire good reading skills and fire creative thinking. Try this selection for many hours of fun learning and happy times with your kids.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Few morality tales can be as wildly entertaining as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory featuring the fantastic experiences of Charlie Bucket, inside a chocolate factory owned by Willy Wonka, an oddball chocolatier. Pure, madcap entertainment from Roald Dahl. Good for ages 6+.

The Little Prince

Antoine de Saint- Exupéry’s 1943 French classic is a deceptively simple children’s story that contains several deeply philosophical reflections about life. Parents of small children, beware. The Little Prince, who travels from space to Earth, finally returns home by allowing a snake to bite him, a conclusion that may disturb young ‘uns. (Age: 6+)

Dr Seuss’s The Cat in the Hat

This amazing modern classic appeal to kids of 4+ years and anyone who loves a crackling rhyme. The hyper exuberance of Dr. Seuss’s Cat and his bad behaviour doesn’t detract from the fact that he is more lovable than the sensible goldfish. You can’t find a better way to get kids interested in reading and the book will likely become a well-thumbed favourite.

Winnie the Pooh

A. A. Milne’s original collection of stories and rhymes differ considerably from the adapted books and movie versions, with a higher quality of language. In the benign, sunny world of the adorable bear Pooh and his friends; your child will learn many valuable lessons about friendship, kindness and love.

Goodnight Moon

Goodnight Moon (1947), an American children’s classic by Margaret Wise is a delightful bedtime tale about a bunny bidding goodnight to all that’s visible around its room, the moon, the light, a red balloon and more. Reading out the rhyming text is a lovely, soothing ritual to get children ready for bed. Clement Hurd’s illustrations are interestingly detailed; the colour scheme changes gradually from a brightly lit room to a dimmer one as the sky outside grows brighter with stars. The smaller than usual size of the book makes it just right for little hands to hold. (Age: 2+ years)

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

The adventures of Dorothy and her three oddball companions, a lion, a scarecrow and tin man are probably more familiar to modern parents in the famous movie version. But Frank L. Baum’s classic novel contains a whole lot more. Read out this beloved fantasy tale to younger children. Kids in the 8-10 age group will enjoy reading it on their own.

Invest in these evergreen children’s classics and introduce your young ones to the pleasure of reading.

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Top 10 Boy Halloween Costumes That Aren’t Harry Potter

Halloween time is the best time to be a little boy because you get to dress up as your favorite character and go around the neighborhood getting as much candy as you can. While getting the candy is cool, the best part is getting to dress up in great boy Halloween costumes and pretend to be an awesome super hero, a cool cowboy or pirate or even as your favorite historical character. The best thing about a great costume is the cooler it is, the more candy you get.

Here are some totally awesome boy Halloween costumes that they’ll love wearing:

1. Superman is a perennial favorite for the last 50 years. Ever since he was introduced in the comics in 1938, little boys have always wanted to fly, stop bullets and all the other cool things Superman does.

2. Captain America is popular this year thanks to the movie hitting the theaters. With the cool mask, the shield and gloves, lots of little boys will feel awesome wearing the Captain America boy Halloween costume.

3. Since the Green Lantern movie came out, that costume is going to be popular as well. Cool looking green and black with the great mask and the ring, if they liked the movie, they will love the costume.

4. Spiderman is another great superhero costume that little boys love. Going around the neighborhood pretending like they are shooting webs out of their wrists while collecting candy will make for a fun Halloween.

5. Batman is always a favorite because Batman is such a cool character. Having a great gadget belt doesn’t hurt either.

6. If they are into zombie movies, there are some totally awesome boy Halloween costumes that they’ll love. Walking around moaning and groaning “Trick or treat!” will definitely get them lots of great candy.

7. There are kids who don’t like the super hero genre or being a zombie. For those boy Halloween costumes, Scooby Doo is popular.

8. Alvin from Alvin and the Chipmunks makes for a great costume as well. If they love the Chipmunk movies, they will love being Alvin.

9. Star Wars boy Halloween costumes are always popular. Whether they want to be a Storm Trooper, Darth Vader or even Luke Skywalker, there are lots of awesome costume choices available.

10. Another favorite is Mario from the video games. Kids get a kick out of dressing up like Mario with the red hat, the mustache and the coveralls.

When Halloween comes around, having a great boy Halloween costume will not only make their night a lot of fun, they’ll probably wear it over and over just to have a fun time pretending long after Halloween is over. Check out all the great costumes like those above and see which ones your kids want to be this year.

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Christmas Presents – Give Classic Presents

Everyone knows one or two people who are great at finding the best presents for each person each Christmas. If you are not blessed with their shopping abilities, then you probably need a little help finding Christmas presents that people actually like opening.

The whole point of giving presents is to let that person know how much they mean to you, so you most likely are trying to shy away from always getting that masked look of disgust each year. With a little help, you can make your gifts be well received each year. All you have to do is go with classic gifts.

One of the best things to give as Christmas presents each year are movies. Even if you are not sure what the new hip movie is this year, just go with a classic choice and you will be fine. For children, all you have to do is pick up one of the older Disney cartoon movies. Because it is older, they most likely have not seen it yet, but they will love it once they watch it once.

For adults, you can go with some of the classic holiday movies or just the classic movies in general. People really can never have enough movies in their collections.

Another great classic gift you can gift for Christmas is chocolate. This makes great Christmas presents for children and adults, just like the movies did. For adults, you can get some of those great chocolates filled with liquor or even just some of the really decadent ones.

You will want to make the chocolate be shaped into fun characters for the kids because they will have fun eating them. Another classic gift you can give almost any adult is wine, liquor or champagne. This is great if you are on a budget because they make a lot of really nice products that are inexpensive these days.

Ornaments also make great Christmas presents because they serve as a reminder each year. This is because the recipient will use the ornament each Christmas, so every year they put it out, they will remember that you gave it to them. They then will think fondly of you and your relationship with them. Going with classic gifts is a great way to turn yourself into a better gift giver.

However, you do not have to be a master at giving them if you just give classic gifts.

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Three Items Every Woman Needs In Her Jewelry Wardrobe

Whether you’re trying to decide on a gift or looking to spruce up your own jewelry wardrobe, there are three items you don’t want to overlook. Simple hoop earrings, a basic bracelet and a stylish diamond or cubic zirconia ring – all in white gold.

Elegance without Extravagance

What makes these the three “must have” items you need to own? First, each is elegant, yet not too expensive. White gold is affordable, so you don’t have to worry about overspending on a gift or hiding jewelry away for safekeeping. These are beautiful jewelry items that are perfect for girls, teens and ladies of all ages, as they’re not too dear to enjoy wearing every day.

The Value of Versatility

A second reason to choose these basic white gold items is their versatility. These are pieces of jewelry that will dress up any outfit. They can be worn with jeans and T-shirt or on a hiking expedition. They’ll serve equally well to dress up a formal occasion gown or business suit.

Women often neglect to wear jewelry for the simple reason that they don’t know what looks good with what they’re wearing. With hoop earrings, a bracelet and an elegant white gold ring, a woman has three standard jewelry items she’ll know she can’t go wrong with, no matter the occasion.

Mix and Match Metal

Not only are these three white gold jewelry items a perfect compliment to any outfit, they’re also an ideal match for other types of metals. White gold matches yellow gold, rose gold, silver, copper and platinum. It looks great with gemstone jewelry, and it’s the perfect accent for more extravagant or even costume or heirloom jewelry items.

White gold hoop earrings, a bracelet and a pretty ring will compliment practically any other type of jewelry you might own – even beads or ceramic pieces.

Always in Style

Whether you’re just starting out with collecting jewelry or you’re looking to add to someone else’s jewelry wardrobe, these three white gold items are the perfect foundation. Once you own these basic three white gold pieces, you can add whatever you like, knowing you’ll always have your basic three foundation pieces to enjoy and wear.

Many women consider their basic white gold items their signature jewelry pieces. They enjoy wearing them day after day, month after month and year after year. Basic hoop earrings, bracelets and diamond or cubic zirconia rings in white gold never go out of fashion. Even better, they’re always the perfect compliment to whatever new fashion comes along, either in jewelry or apparel.

If you or a special lady in your life has never owned or worn white gold, these three pieces will quickly become your most favorite and most worn jewelry items. Thanks to the affordability of white gold, it’s easy to expand your collection. But no matter how many other beautiful white gold items a woman owns, these three basics will always remain among her most treasured.

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First Step to Weight Loss: Shop For Groceries

If you’ve been planning to lose weight since forever, well it’s time to finally get started. And though it may seem counterproductive, one of the best places to start your weight loss plan is in the grocery store. But how can this be? Grocery stores are filled with fatty, sugary and processed foods at every corner, and a trip inside could mean certain weight gain rather than loss. But following just a few pointers can ensure that you not only lose weight from your shopping trip but develop healthy habits as well.
Shopping for groceries is one of the most practical ways by which you can start losing weight, and save for some small but significant changes it costs you no more time, effort or money than what you would normally expend in your usual shopping trips. Below is the list of steps to help you lose weight starting with the very next time you go grocery shopping.
1. Plan Your Meals. Just as a fire fighter is well equipped to face the flames due to extensive training and preparation, you must also prepare yourself before entering the realm of tempting but nutritionally trashy food in the grocery store. Before you head to the store, make sure you are in the right state of mind and are determined to follow through on your weight loss goals. Plan delicious, nutritious meals beforehand and list down all the healthy and fresh ingredients you will need. This leads to the next step, which is-
2. Make a Healthy Grocery Shopping List. Making a list of all the food items you need to buy will help keep your focus on the healthier food choices and avoid impulse buys which are more often than not, unhealthy processed foods. A healthy grocery shopping list should include lots of fresh, canned and frozen fruits and vegetables; whole grains; lean meat; skinless white meat; beans and tofu; and low-fat, low-sodium dairy and condiments. Spices and herbs also make great additions to any healthy grocery shopping list as foods that are rich in taste are more satisfying and aid in weight loss and digestion. Avoid fat-free, ‘diet’ items and items on sale. Sale items are often junky, processed foods and fat-free ‘diet’ items just make you consume more calories because there’s no fat to make you feel full. Opt for low-fat or sugar-free instead.
3. Eat Before Shopping. It is a deadly mistake to shop when you’re hungry. Hunger can make you vulnerable to cravings and that means you’ll be more likely to put a bag of chips than a head of broccoli in your shopping cart. Try snacking on protein-rich food such as lean turkey or low fat cheese right before shopping so you don’t buckle to temptations at the grocery store.
4. Manoeuvre through the Store Wisely. Sale items and most of the unhealthiest food choices are often placed in the centre aisle of grocery stores, so as much as possible avoid this aisle. Keep to the outer aisles where most of the natural and fresh food choices are, and you definitely must not browse through the aisles to look for “what’s new”. Products with this label will most likely be just another form of junk food you simply don’t need.
5. Bring Some Support. If you’re a parent, don’t bring along a child when grocery shopping as children will ask you to purchase numerous processed food items. Instead, bring along a good friend or friends who support your weight loss plans fully. They can help you keep to your shopping list, distract you from tempting processed foods in the store and make the whole shopping experience fun at the same time.
Taking the Next Step
Grocery shopping is just your first step to losing weight. To take that next step, you need a weight loss program that conveniently fits into your life. Easy Weight Loss Online can be your partner in this endeavour. They offer online weight loss programs that are easy to follow and require no gym memberships, pills or worries. Their methods consist of an all natural and wholesome diet and effective, equipment-free exercises to help you lose weight fast.

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How to Grow Strawberry Plants For the Best Strawberry Fruit Production

To plant and grow strawberry plants is a wonderful way to garden and quite easy when following just a few simple steps.

Here are a few gardening tips that will get your strawberry plants off to the best possible start. Soon you will be enjoying the strawberry fruits of your labor.

Strawberry plants grow best in well-drained soil that has been amended with lots of organic matter. Do not plant strawberry plants in or near soil where eggplants, peppers, potatoes, raspberries, or tomatoes have grown over the past 3 to 5 years, because strawberry plants are susceptible to verticillium wilt. It is also advisable to move strawberry beds whenever verticillium wilt appears. Soils with high lime content may also be unsuitable for this plant. Protect strawberry plants from freezing during the winter months. In addition to mulching, planting your strawberry plants at the top of a gentle slope helps minimize winterkill and frost damage to blossoms.

Always plant strawberry plants in rows or hills in areas that receive at least 6 hours of sunlight per day. Place the plants 15 to 18 inches apart in rows spaced about 2 feet apart. When planting bare root strawberries, be sure to trim the roots to six inches long. Dig holes deep enough to accommodate the roots. Inside the hole, mound enough dirt to be able to have the plant sit on the mound with the roots spread evenly around. The base of the crown should sit at the soil level. If the crown is set too high above the ground, the plant will dry out. Smooth and water to settle the soil. If your plants experience a drought immediately after planting, it may stunt the growth of the plants. Inspect after frost to see if any plants were lifted out of the soil. If they were, gently push them back into the soil and cover.

Once strawberry plants have begun to leaf out, fertilize can be applied. A balanced 10-10-10 blend can be added according to directions on the label. When the plant begins to form blooms until harvest is complete, is the time period that the plants will need the most water. One to two inches of supplemental watering a week may be necessary to keep the plants hydrated. Check the soil for dampness if in doubt.

The first growing year in the ground, pinch off any strawberry blooms. This will force more growth into the plants size, creating larger plants with the potential for more blooms producing more fruit the next growing season.

A member of the rose family, it is documented that strawberries have been enjoyed as a domesticated fruit as early as the 1400’s. Now, we know the nutritional value of strawberries. They contain amino acids and beta-carotene as well as A, C, E, K, B-complex vitamins. An excellent source of calcium, iron, potassium, manganese, copper and zinc, strawberries are high in sugar so should be eaten in moderation.

Some of my favorite ways to enjoy the fruits of strawberry plants are serving on waffles (Yummy!), in a spinach salad with walnuts, in a cucumber & strawberry salad, or served with only a splash of balsamic vinegar. Harvest strawberries in early summer and freeze to preserve them for future use.

Tips for strawberries:
Do not wash berries until ready to eat
Remove caps after washing
Store in colander (or vented container) in refrigerator for air circulation
Remove from refrigerator 1 hour before serving
To whiten teeth – mash one strawberry and mix with baking soda, brush on teeth and leave on for 5 minutes then rinse

Whether you plant your strawberry plants in a home orchard, vegetable garden or as a ground cover, you’re sure to enjoy the many benefits of the strawberry fruits.

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Why Make Bath and Body Products Instead of Buying Them?

The minute you walk into a bath and body store (such as Bath and Body Works, The Body Shop, or Origins), you are being mind controlled. If you set foot in these territories, you will walk out with way more products than you intended to buy in the first place… and way less money.

Does this sound overly dramatic? It’s nothing more than the truth. In fact, large companies are so intent on making you buy that they have special classes for it. They run their employees through these workshops and basically teach them how to trick you into buying more.

There is the fine art of making displays which encourage you to pick items up and not put them down. There is also the sales script that every employee knows when you’re about to check out. With this script, sales people can rush you into making extra last-minute purchases at the register, sometimes doubling your total order! And then there is the opening line, “Here, have a basket.” Ever heard that? This ‘basket trap’ is a proven technique that makes people buy more, according to “Why We Buy” by Paco Underhill.

“Why did I spend so much?”

There is nothing wrong with a company wanting more sales, but often these stores’ tactics result in buyer’s regret. After the fog clears and you’re heading down to your car, you start kicking yourself for spending so much of your hard-earned money. What made you buy so much, when you didn’t need it, or even want it? Was it worth it? You feel uneasy because your natural sense of economy told you that you made a mistake.

Natural ingredients only available in high-end products are yours for just a few dollars.

But learn to make your own bath and body products and escape that corporate mind control. Instead of feeling guilty, you’ll feel great about using natural ingredients and fine fragrances to create the highest quality bath and body products. Use exciting and exotic ingredients such as shea butter, mango butter, and botanical extracts, and use more of them in your own products. When companies claim that their lotion contains shea butter, it’s often just a tiny percentage.

You’ll be able to experiment with ingredients such as cucumber, horse chestnut, green tea and sea kelp extracts. These are ingredients that hike the price of commercial products sky-high, but you can get the same things for only a few dollars. Some of these ingredients are only available in extremely expensive, high-end spa lines, but you can use them at home.

Any fragrance you want.

And you’re no longer dependent on the fragrances of the month; you can make your toiletries in any scent you want. Just like how an artist’s palette has unlimited colors, you have an infinite selection of scents to use. Want aromatherapy products with essential oils? They are simple to make! Do you have a fragrance that you can’t find anywhere but keep wishing companies would make? Now you can make all the products you want in that fragrance. And if you’re absolutely addicted to scents such as Moonlight Path, Cherry Blossom, and Warm Vanilla Sugar, you can also make your lotions, shower gels, and bath salts smell like those fragrances.

Making bath and body products is easier than you think.

But can you do it? Absolutely, you can! Even if you’re not a typical crafter or “do it yourselfer,” you can get started easily. You don’t have to make everything “from scratch” if that sounds like too much work; there are other methods that don’t need chemistry knowledge, just some basic kitchen skills.

There are many resources dedicated to helping the beginner get started – websites, books, ebooks, and even the public library. Many people have learned to do this, and you can too!

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Holiday Safety Tips

The holidays are a busy time – shopping, traveling, and spending time with friends and family can leave us with crowded social calendars and frazzled nerves. This holiday season, make sure that you and your family stay safe and secure. Following these holiday safety tips will help you enjoy the season safely.

Deck the halls – safely

The holiday season is a time for your home to shine – literally. Twinkling lights, festive trees decked out with brightly colored ornaments, and the warm glow of candles transform your home into a winter wonderland of color and light. Here are some holiday safety tips to help you celebrate the season with safety in mind:

* Test all indoor and outdoor lights. Before putting strings of lights on a tree, the outside of your home, or anywhere else, make sure that all lights work properly. Check the cords carefully for exposed or frayed wire – if you see any problems, don’t use them! And always use your holiday lighting appropriately: make sure that you only use outdoor lighting that has been approved for outdoor use.

* Choose kid-friendly ornaments. If you have young children at home, make sure that your decorations are safe for children. Avoid ornaments or decorations that resemble candy or other edibles, and don’t use decorations that are breakable, sharp, or have small parts.

* Select a safer Christmas tree. Whether you prefer a real tree or an artificial one, you can make the safest choice. When purchasing a real tree, give it a shake – if the tree drops a lot of needles, it’s probably dried out. Find a fresher tree and keep it watered to reduce the risk of fire. If you prefer an artificial tree, make sure you buy one that is certified as fire resistant.

* Use candles safely. Candles are always a popular holiday decorating choice, but it’s important to remember that they pose a risk if left unattended. According to the National Fire Protection Association, an estimated 17,200 home fires were started by candles in 2004. Always extinguish candles before leaving a room, and keep them out of the reach of kids.

* Be a cautious chef. Nothing smells better than the aroma of your favorite holiday foods cooking in the kitchen. But you should never put safety on the back burner – don’t leave a hot oven or a burning stove unattended, and always remember to keep hot food out of the reach of curious kids and pets.

* Give the gift of safety. Choose age-appropriate gifts for the kids on your holiday shopping list. Read labels and stay within the suggested age ranges for holiday presents. If you have young children, make sure you carefully inspect new toys and always read the instructions before use.

* Be a savvy traveler. For many of us, the holiday season means increased traveling. Whether you’re going down the road to a holiday gathering, or across the country to see the grandkids, remember that safety is first. When driving, always wear your seat belt and have a good roadside emergency supply kit with you. If you’re going to be out of town for a while, have a trusted neighbor keep an eye on your home while you’re gone.

* Remember the basics. No matter what time of the year it is, safety should always be on your mind. Take some time out of your busy holiday schedule to test your smoke or carbon monoxide alarms, and review your home safety procedures with your family.

The holiday season should be fun and joyful – and taking some extra holiday safety precautions will ensure that you and your family will be happy and healthy. Happy Holidays!

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What to Know About Zumba Music

Among the different music styles that are becoming trendy recently, Zumba music is one of the better ones. It is a mash up of many different international styles, in particular the Latin dances. Zumba dance fitness programs are gaining in popularity in many countries in the world. Classes are being offered in health clubs, gyms and community centers.

The developer of the music is Alberto “Beto” Perez. He was an aerobic fitness instructor in a fitness facility in Colombia in the early 1990s. It was in a class there that he improvised music and called it Zumba. The class became all the rage.

After a few years, Beto Perez transferred to the United States. He also taught the new music there and the success he found in Colombia was reproduced. Along with Alberto Perlman and Alberto Aghion, Beto Perez incorporated Zumba Fitness LLC and trademarked the brand name Zumba. Zumba Fitness LLC has its head office in Hollywood, Florida, and currently governs the offering of all classes worldwide.

The new music is actually a mash up of different dance music styles. In particular, the influence of Latin dances like Tango, Reggae, and Salsa, can be observed in a music track. A typical track features alternating fast and slow rhythms, which, together with resistance training, enables the body to tone muscle and burn fat. Practitioners get to have fun while all major muscle groups are exercised.

There are various Zumba classes being offered. The traditional class is where the basic dances are emphasized. Gold is a specially designed class that caters to the needs of adults and other de-conditioned people. Toning classes focus on enhancing muscle tone and strength building. Aqua is an adaptation of Zumba to aqua fitness programs. A recently introduced class, the Zumbatomic, is tailored for children.

Zumba music is a new dance music that promotes fitness in fun ways. Many people like it because of the way their fitness aims are met while they enjoy dancing. The dance music is easy to like because it is based on recognizable dance styles. The existence of different kinds of classes means that one can choose based on special needs.