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re: Promoting Ballroom Dancing - any ideas?
Posted by Gene DeWald
9/4/2003  9:31:00 PM
Dear Ballroom Lover:
I have been teaching ballroom ever since I was in high school at the age of 15. I loved to dance and as a result took it up as a profession. Was I successful? You be the judge.At the age of 18 I won first place in the Chicago Citywide High School Ballroom Dance Championship. At the age of 22 I took it up seriously and took the professional division of the Sun-Times newspaper yearly Harvest Moon contest. 52 professional couples entered. I and my partner (later my wife) were asked to go overseas and entertain the us soldiers in the Azores, Morocco, Libyia, Tunisia, Arabia, Eiretrea, and Bermuda. After that we danced some in Chicago and then moved to California. Teen age classes 12 and over, dozens of them a year. Adults - 550 couples were enroled in one class at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium (a big hall.)
Had my own ballroom/studio and had 50 couple in the class. Many stayed with me for 28 years. They still can dance up a storm today.
Iwould teach everyone that elegance is important...not step patterns. I studied stage presentation more than anyone else. I took up Argentine Tango 3 years ago and now because I was able to apply elegance, I dance with all the stars from such world-wide groups as "Forever Tango." Namely Miriam La Ricci. Mia Maestaro from the movie "Tango." She asked me to dance with her. When I asked her why would she want to dance with a beginner Tango dancer...she replied..."You have elegance in your dancing and move so smoothly. My head swelled and the same was said about me by Miriam.
I am egotistical, yes! Tell me...who do you know that is 78 years old. Out performs all in all the dances.I even auditioned for as a dancer in a background TV commercial.
The 2 ladies who auditioned with me I helped secure them the job as background dancers. You may have seen it on TV. It was for American Express Business Card. I too was picked. ENOUGH ABOUT ME! So when I suggest that the only way to get teens and middle age youth into ballroom dancing is to somehow expose them to it.
However, only sex. sensationalism and vulgarity is what the teen agers want.
Columbine and Sante massacares would not have occured if there was a ball-room dance class offered to the boys who did the shootings. No one ever picked on me in high school or afterward because I had a reputation of being a great dancer. Girls and guys were all friendly to me.
Ballroom dancing must be started at the age of 12. Not the sissy kind but the teens must appear in proper attire (NO jeans or grunge look.)
PTA is the one that must do it. Right now I am trying to get in touch with Arnold Schwarzenneger because he got proposition 49 passed in California that would offer after school activities. But his secretary told me that when the money is collected for the program it will be turned over to the Department of Education in Sacramento. STUPID!!!! It'll just for for sports and other programs that offers no social inter-action between teen boys and girls.
I am not giving up the fight to educate the teens how much fun and excitement ballroom dancing really can be.
I am meeting with a new CEO of the Pasadena Civic Auditorium and Covention Center and he heard of my past accomplishments in the ballroom field and wants me to again conduct classes and put on dances with big bands. They will tear down a big convention hall and put up a 24,000 square foot ballroom. I have to get started immediately to promote all ballroom dances because there is not enough interest by the public in this field. I may even give free dance classes. The building will completed in 2007.
There are to many items to mention to you at this time. So if you want to look into all my ideas (and maybe I'll get some from you) call me anytime.
Gene DeWald - (626) 303 - 6252. I live in Monrovia, CA.
P.S. I'm fighting the Argentine Tango Community to only play melodious Tangos without any of their idol singers. Who by the way...have horrible voices and also - please fight to keep the Jazz influence out of the Tango and ballroom music.
This is also a project I am working on to REMOVE JAZZ MUSIC IT STINKS IN THE
BALLROOM MUSIC FIELD. I DANCE TO THE MUSIC AND IN THE MUSIC. .NOT TO SQUEAKY SOUR NOTES.WANT MORE - call or email: ballroom_dancing@earthlink.net
re: Promoting Ballroom Dancing - any ideas?
Posted by Laura
9/11/2003  3:53:00 PM
My local USABDA chapter offers competitive "Nightclub" events at the four competitions we host yearly. We offer Salsa, West Coast Swing, Night Club 2-Step, and Hustle events. Collegiate competitions (which usually allow non-student adults to participate) often offer these events, too. Many people learned these dances socially, and started asking them to be added to the competitive roster. There's not currently a USABDA National Salsa Championship, but there are other forums (such as Salsa conventions) that handle that sort of thing.

I'm also starting to see the Nightclub events turn up at NDCA competitions. They've always had them in the Pro/Am events, but now at least two competitions that I know of in California have them as regular amateur events, too.
re: Promoting Ballroom Dancing - any ideas?
Posted by Preston
9/6/2003  5:41:00 PM
I have been thinking about this a lot recently. Here are a couple of ideas, feel free to disagree with all of them, I could really use some feedback...

First, we should differentiate between people who compete and practice for competitions, and people who just want to dance for fun or for social reasons. Apart from a few senior level competitors people in the first group already are young, so we only need to consider the second group.

Here in the UK nine out of ten 20 and 30 somethings who dance for fun or to meet new people dance Salsa. Having been involved I'm convinced that most of them choose Salsa simply because that is what people in their age group dance. I feel that ballroom would actually have some advantages over Salsa as a social thing, but only someone with an overriding passion for ballroom will choose it if it means that they will be spening their free time with people who are from 10 to 60 years older than they are. So, the solution is to organize ballroom classes and parties which attract a predominantly young crowd!

How to achieve that?

Ideas for classes:
1. Teachers should be young. People who are still competing might be ideal. They would probably be in their twenties. Maybe they are not as good teachers as someone a bit older, but they will attract young people.

2. Most young people have no money, so it should be organized as a not for profit activity, very much like university ballroom clubs.

3. The location of the practice venue should be good for young people. Here in England that means city center instead of suburbs. I don't know where young people in America like to live and hang out, but I'm guessing it's the same there?

Ideas for parties:
1. Young people should like the look and feel of the venue. A standard mainstream nightclub which happens to have a big dancefloor might be ideal.

2. The venue should be located in the same area where the mainstream nightclubs are.

3. The timing of the party should be as late as with other clubs. If a ballroom party ends at 11pm, young people will walk out thinking: "What are we going to do now? We have already been to a party, and the night hasn't even started yet!"

4. It might be a good idea to pay some money to a few competing dancers who have only just started climbing up the adult ranking list if they come to the party and do some dancing there. People who think that ballroom is stuffy and only for old people will change their mind when they see some hungry new talent burning the floor...

Some bizarre and sinister ideas:
1. Try to turn top ballroom competitors into "stars" and add a soap opera element to competitions: big emotions and dramatic events. This would probably make ballroom more popular in all age groups.

2. Emphasize and reinvigorate ballroom music. Parties would have live music, and the performers would have a more rock star kind of quality. This should appeal to younger crowd.

3. And of course: Create opportunities for young people to see the current top competitors dancing. It looks so athletic and so sexy that once you have seen it you cannot dismiss ballroom as a hobby for old people!

Preston (London, UK)
re: Promoting Ballroom Dancing - any ideas?
Posted by Laura
9/11/2003  9:03:00 PM
My chapter makes a difference. We host four competitions per year, with low-cost workshops, so as to get lower-level competitors and young people started in competitive dancing. We keep our prices very low: $15 for adults for as many events as they are eligible to dance in, $5 for people under 18. We also host the USABDA Western Regionals every other year, also at low cost: $25 for adults for all they can dance, I can't remember what it is for kids, but I think it's $10. These are some of the lowest competition entry fees for adults that I've ever heard of, and people don't have to pay extra for entry tickets to the ballroom either.

We also award scholarships from time to time at our events, just last month we awarded $100 to a Junior couple in a random drawing at the competition we were holding.

Our chapter is atypical of USABDA: nation-wide there are many more social dancers than competitors. Our chapter is the reverse: the vast majority of the members are competitors, so we tailor our activities to suit their needs.

I've been a Board member of our local chapter for over a year now, and have been volunteering with the chapter for much longer than that. The most significant thing we get from our annual dues is an insurance policy that covers all our events. This is very important in this day and age when any little accident could bring on a huge lawsuit.

I think our situation is quite different than socially-focussed clubs. Competitive dancers have to be members of USABDA so that they can dance in qualifying events leading to the Amateur World Championships. This impetus is not present in a social club, which makes 'why are we doing this and what are we getting out of this?' a very important and significant question.
re: Promoting Ballroom Dancing - any ideas?
Posted by Gene DeWald
9/4/2003  8:17:00 PM
Originally posted by Ballrmdanceaddict:
I have been ballroom dancing for almost a year now, and I have noticed that I am well below the average age of the dancers at both my studio, and any social event that I have attended (I am 25 btw).

A big part of me wishes that I would have started earlier, and in addition wishes that there were more people my age who were into this. I have gotten comments from a number of people saying that I should do something else that involves more people my age. The issue with that is that I love ballroom dancing too much to stop .

Rather than gripe about it, I want to see if there is anything that I can do about it. There has to be other people out there like myself who have no idea about ballroom dancing, but would love it if they tried it. I have considered taking this up with the studio that I go to, but I don't know exactly what to propose. Does anyone out there have any ideas? Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!
  
re: Promoting Ballroom Dancing - any ideas?
Posted by Jeff
9/6/2003  9:04:00 AM
Gene,
You have a serious ego problem. You should seek counseling...
re: Promoting Ballroom Dancing - any ideas?
Posted by ChampDancesport KC
9/7/2003  11:11:00 PM
Hi all--

At our last collegiate event to gain new members we played a video of the latin festival and changed our name from a "ballroom club" to a "dancesport team". We got over 500 signatures of interested students. This blows away our former efforts. The video made all the difference. Getting kids (college aged) to see that "ballroom" dancing is powerful, athletic, sexy and contemporary got them to sign up fast!

As I mentioned before we just need more pros here in the US so that we can have more exhibitions/shows and reputable lessons in order to change people's overriding perception of ballroom as all tea dances for 70 year olds. Not that I am against tea dances mind you Even my 70 year old students can move better than your average american 17 year old.

Most young people that see us dance or that we can get to watch a competition are hooked after that. Alternate forms like West Coast and Lindy and Salsa have brought in a younger crowd as well, partly because the lessons are often free or part of a bar cover charge.

M
re: Promoting Ballroom Dancing - any ideas?
Posted by KevinL
9/8/2003  6:45:00 AM

Here in the UK nine out of ten 20 and 30 somethings who dance for fun or to meet new people dance Salsa. Having been involved I'm convinced that most of them choose Salsa simply because that is what people in their age group dance. I fee l that ballroom would actually have some advantages over Salsa as a social thing, but only someone with an overriding passion for ballroom will choose it if it means that they will be spening their free time with people who are from 10 to 60 years older t han they are. So, the solution is to organize ballroom classes and parties which attract a predominantly young crowd!


It's similar here, most young (teen-twenties) dancers are swing or salsa dancers. People often want to do what their peers do, so it's understandable.


1. Teachers should be young. People who are still competing might be ideal. They would probably be in their twenties. Maybe they are not as good teachers as someone a bit older, but they will attract young people.


I agree that young attracts young, but until you get young people involved how do you get "young" people who know how top dance well enough that they can teach well?


2. Most young people have no money, so it should be organized as a not for profit activity, very much like university ballroom clubs.


I agree with this as well, but good professional teachers teach for a living, so where will the money come from to pay them? On the other hand, lots of people are willing to share their expertise (locally it is the United States Amateur Ballroom Dancers Association) for free.


3. The location of the practice venue should be good for young people. Here in England that means city center instead of suburbs. I don't know where young people in America like to live and hang out, but I'm guessing it's the same there?


I'm not sure there really are any "cities" in Vermont, but the Burlington area does have a fair number of dance options.


Ideas for parties:
1. Young people should like the look and feel of the venue. A standard mainstream nightclub which happens to have a big dancefloor might be ideal.


Sure, it might be ideal, but what mainstream nightclub is going to open their doors to young people, many of whom won't be able to buy alcohol, the major source of income for that nightclub?


2. The venue should be located in the same area where the mainstream nightclubs are.


I agree.


3. The timing of the party should be as late as with other clubs. If a ballroom party ends at 11pm, young people will walk out thinking: "What are we going to do now? We have already been to a party, and the night hasn't even started yet!"


This is a very good point. I would, however, start earlier than other clubs and parties so that you can include dance lessons before the event.


4. It might be a good idea to p ay some money to a few competing dancers who have only just started climbing up the adult ranking list if they come to the party and do some dancing there. People who think that ballroom is stuffy and only for old people will change their mind when they s ee some hungry new talent burning the floor...


If you pay them, doesn't that risk their amateur status? I get the point though, maybe using the event as a fundraiser for them without paying them directly would work.


Some bizarre and sinister ideas:
1. Try to turn top ballroom competitors into "stars" and add a soap opera element to competitions: big emotions and dramatic events. This would probably make ballroom more po pular in all age groups.


Good luck, but how would you do that?


2. Emphasize and reinvigorate ballroom music. Parties would have live music, and the performers would have a more rock star kind of quality. This should appeal to younger crowd.


Rock star quality live performers cost money...


3. And of course: Create opportunities for young people to see the current top competitors dancing. It looks so athletic and so sexy that once you have seen it you cannot dismiss ballroom as a hobby for old people!

Preston (London, UK)


OK, this is great! In the US, most locales have cable television. And with cable television comes a little-known benefit known as public-access. Anyone in the local cable area is able to produce thier own TVshows, and the show will be transmitted to all cable recievers.

Yes, lots of people won't see it, and you might (probably not) need your own equipment, but I think most cable access stations have loaner video cameras, and editing equipment, so everything should be available.

Later this month, from Sept. 19th to the 28th, is National Ballroom Dance Week in the US. Locally there are lots of dance events planned, and I'm going to collect footage of dancers, and some interviews, and produce a half-hour cable access show.

Although I will broadly cover as much of the local dance scene as possible, I think that I already have the ending scene. An attractive young woman (20ish) said that she and her friends love to dance, and that it is the best way for guys to meet women. You only need a small core of young people to attract more young people, and she could start that trend.

Kevin
"Ballrom" is stupid
Posted by timjowers
9/11/2003  3:03:00 PM
I agree. I tried to get the dance program at the U. here to change to "DanceSport" but the school of dance didn't want that. When they have the club they have very few but if they have a "Swing night" the place is packed with 100's. Go figure. I'm embarrased to say I am involved in "Ballroom" dance because that reminds me of some surreal scene in a movie where someone remmebers back to the first half of the 1900's. Heck, there are not even any "ballrooms" in my city, other than those at hotels that are typically never even used for dancing! There are some dance venues.

The USABDA now charges about $60/yr for competitors and this is on par with NDCA. This is way too much.

More importantly, USABDA/ballroom dancing should include Salsa. It is the leading dance form in most cities. Swing is probably next.

Maybe USABDA should have an open, local "Dance Fever" type competition?

I agree with you. It is hard to dance when there are really no competitors in your area. Someone does need to generate interest but telling kids to join "USABDA" or somewhere else that they slave away learning some basic steps will not work. Take a look at other sports. You can get on a team even if you suck. Dancing should be the same way. The more you do it the better you will become.

My $.20,TimJowers
re: Promoting Ballroom Dancing - any ideas?
Posted by ChampDancesportKC
9/11/2003  8:07:00 PM
Here in Kansas City our USABDA chapter which had been active for years, recently seperated from USABDA all together. They complained that they got nothing at all in return for their annual dues. Now they are the Kansas City Social Dance Club.

Do any of you belong to a USABDA group that actually makes a difference in dancing in your area?

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