When I started dancing, (Many years ago.), there were many forms of dancing for those who did not wish to spend big money, or to work many hours on technique.
There were places to Polka, Country Western Dance, Square Dance, and Various forms of simple folk dancing.
I knew people who did Israli folk dancing. There was far more American Style Ballroom dancing, Round Dancing, and even Social Ballroom, which was usually taught by friends and family. (Non-professionals.)
I am told that the Country Western leaders are now taking dance lessons from the best International coachs. As are Round Dance Leaders. Even American Ballroom leaders have addapted many International standards.
This is great for those who whish to compete, but what about the millions of people who once danced for fun?
Is there no longer any room for those with two left feet? Doesn't anyone want the huge number of people who just want to dance for fun?
The reason you seldom see dancing in resturants anymore is because so few people dance for fun anymore.
International Dancers want a large wooden floor, and they are not going to have a beer while they dance.
If we do not find a way to make dancing a universal sport, (like it used to be), Ballroom Dancing will be a sport that only the rich, and the very healthy can hope to indulge in.
Only those who like to dance for the camera, and the judges will ever find the joy that is out there on the dance floor.
I think part of the problem is that its all that's left.
STEPPING ON MY SOAPBOX
So many of the people who danced for the joy have gotten too old to dance. We didn't teach the next generations to dance, we sat them in front of the television instead. We gave them video games and walkmen and kept them socially isolated. I'm talking about my generation too.
So now there aren't enough people left to dance to create a social scene. It became increasingly isolated and so there were fewer suppliers and it became a luxury. When more people tried to join the prices didn't correct either and so it ends up that when people start seeing it as valuable they find they can't afford to take it on.
So now that there is the beginning of demand ironically due to television which killed it in the first place, there isn't enough supply. Hopefully we can get supply going before too many people are turned away.
Also we need to be honest with people that you aren't going to be in training 24-7 and so you aren't going to look great on day one. (Read this as an instant gratification problem) But even then it needs to be fun.
The next thing is that ballroom people tend to be snooty and suspicious so its hard to break into the social circles. Not cooL and it drives away the newbies as they feel insecure and unwanted.
Or you can just move away from the US. Lots of places in Europe still have dancing as a way of life. Sigh....just my opinion.
Lots of places in Europe still have dancing as a way of life.
This is still true in many parts of the UK. In my city, you can choose between about half a dozen social dance venues on each of at least six days a week (Sunday is a bit quiet). The dancing tends to be dominated by the senior age range, and has a big Sequence Dancing component, but there are opportunities for dancing exclusively Ballroom/Latin more-or-less daily, and judging by the number of times you see the same people, all over the place, dancers are very committed to their interest, and will travel widely for their own pleasure.
It is quite encouraging that several dance schools put a particular emphasis on bringing on beginners, and hold their own weekly social dances,to give them opportunities to dance in a social setting. I always get a buzz when my own pupils start coming along to my own weekly social, really before they are ready, but get up and have a go. They can't dance the full range, because they haven't even learned the most basic steps in several styles yet, so thay have to sit quite a lot out, but you can see them watching carefully, and just wanting to get up again themselves.
It's why I teach, really. I get so much satisfaction out of seeing beginners find their feet, and reaching the point where they can enjoy their dancing, at their own level, and it is my business goal to FILL the local dance venues with competent social dancers, at least some of which will continue to progress and become advanced dancers in time.
"I think part of the problem is that its all that's left."
Yes, but also the competitive outlets are the only marginally common way to escape from the impractical pricing and presentation of the dominant studio model.
"We didn't teach the next generations to dance"
More that this job was delegated to the studios, who only pursue the part of it that fits with their business model.
"When more people tried to join the prices didn't correct either and so it ends up that when people start seeing it as valuable they find they can't afford to take it on."
Paying someone to spend time with you one on one is not a practical form of recreation for the majority of the population. As long as the dominant presentation of dancing is stuck on that model, it's going to be an activity with two niches - those who can afford it, and those who know about one of the less publicized ways to avoid those costs.
hmmm, our town has a square dancing club. They offer classes at a really reasonable cost about once a year.
There is a country and western place here with a huge dance floor.
And the main ballroom teacher teaches many college age students and many many beginners, with an emphasis on the youngsters having their own classes with music they like and the senior beginning class where the mike it turned way up and the music appeals to them.
There is a dinner club that meets monthly I believe with dancing too.
Then the community education program offers ballroom and country&western classes.
The only thing we lack are enough social opportunities, if you did all of the different groups you could dance fairly often, but not nightly.
My soapbox is that what children are taught in PE classes is only really good for the youth and for athletes and if all forms of social dance were included in the curriculum it would help make this country healthier by teaching all the kids an exercise form that is social, aerobic, and can be done into old age!
Also, many churches have huge social halls that are only used occasionally. If they want to pull youth in and keep them out of trouble, then the older people who dance need to set up opportunities for teaching the youth groups to dance properly for fun! The space is there, the fees need only cover a teacher and the cost of the utilities. The result is healthier, more physically active kids, and a social scene that can be monitored by adults.
I think attitudes toward dancing may be changing here in North America. More young people are getting interested because of the extremely popular dance shows on TV. We have seen a huge increase in young couples taking our group classes, it used to be all middle-aged to old folks. Our group classes are very inexpensive. As well, the studio has a party every Friday night, open to anyone, where folks can come and dance and socialize. We try to stress that these parties are for fun, not practice (there are lots of other times for that). So even us international dancers, relax and yes, even have a beer! There might not be room for a slow fox but everything else is doable. And since anything goes on Fridays we quite often mix styles!
Here in the Washington, D.C. metro area, dancing for fun is alive and well. There is folk dancing, square dancing, round dancing, contra dancing, English dancing, Irish dancing, Cajun dancing, Blues dancing, polka dancing, swing dancing, a bit of country western dancing, salsa dancing, ballroom dancing (American and international) and other forms (as at the clubs) that I've not mentioned. Older persons dance. Younger persons dance, too, and in good number.
Check out DCDANCENET.COM for more specifics about the variety and extent of dancing here. (Close to but a comprehensive listing.)
There are those who pursue dancing seriously, often (but not always) for competitive. But the majority dance for fun and, truth be told, many also ISO relationships.
Enjoyment comes first. Yes, great form and all that is fine, but not at the price of pleasure. Enjoyment reinforces continued dancing.