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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
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.

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.

"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?
re: Promoting Ballroom Dancing - any ideas?
Posted by ChampionDancesportKC
9/5/2003  12:10:00 AM

Dancesport is slowly, but surely, growing in the US as a youth activity. Commercial ballroom franchises in the US are the reason why we have no youth dancers. How could they ever afford the prices???

With the ever growing International style trend in the US I think you will steadily see an increase in young dancers. Exposure is important of course, but it is just as important that the exposure be positive. Plenty of young dancers are turned off by out-of-date teachers playing out-of-date music and teaching completely out dated patterns and techniques. It takes experienced qualified instructors to teach any large group class...a bad teacher will only cause people to turn away from dancing for good.

We are working diligently to expand collegiate dancing. Eventually this will be profitable, but the start up years for a team are difficult, so most good instructors don't bother. We teach children ages 3+ as well, but they are not our focus right now.

What the US desperately needs is better training opportunities and help for new independent instructors. Until we are able to train enough reputable instructors to service the entire US, then dancesport will be hard pressed to grow successfully here. Meanwhile, we all have to work to grow the dance community in general. After all when there is a market, someone will invariable find a way to fill it

re: Promoting Ballroom Dancing - any ideas?
Posted by Dancingatlast
9/8/2003  9:47:00 AM
One other thought I'd like to add as to how to promote ballroom dancing and get more young people involved. Many people in our area of the US (younger and older alike) are under the impression that you have to have a partner in order to enjoy ballroom dancing. If you dance in a forum where you do, indeed, need a partner in order to attend a dance, then you will probably limit the scope of people you will attract. My husband and I dance and take lessons where the instructors DO NOT insist that you come with a partner, and they encourage people of all ages, couples and singles alike, to attend. So perhaps you could emphasize (if it's possible) that you do not need a partner to come dancing. Obviously you will need a partner IN ORDER to dance, but you can meet one once you get to the dance.

Another way you can get exposure is to approach the people who organize dances where you dance now and ask them if they would be open to putting on an exhibition of some sort. If you live where there is a municipal hall with a good floor, or a school or college that will allow you to use the gym, then you could circulate fliers and post ads in the local paper of this exhibition and invite anyone and everyone who is interested to come and find out how much fun ballroom dancing is. There must be people where you are dancing now who absolutely love to dance and would be happy to have another opportunity to dance (at the exhibition), especially if it will help promote ballroom dancing. Don't limit yourself to just where you are currently dancing; you could make it a crusade of sorts by approaching other dance instructors in your area and having their dancers also participate. Be sure to invite a reporter from your local newspaper to come and cover the function. You may not attract as large a crowd as you'd like this first time out, but if your local paper writes a story about what you're doing, you'll get that much more exposure for another possible exhibition. Be sure, also, that if you have more than one dance "club" participating in this exhibition, all the teachers should be encouraged to bring fliers or posters advertising their own dance forums. Then interested people watching the exhibition can contact the instructors they enjoyed the most --- or their dancers. Like if someone particularly enjoyed watching you dance, seeing your enthusiasm, etc., they can approach you, see where you go dancing, who you take lessons from, etc. ....Just a couple of thoughts (I know, I said it would be only one --- oh well...)
re: Promoting Ballroom Dancing - any ideas?
Posted by Jeff
9/6/2003  9:15:00 AM
Addict, I am in the same situation. Wish there were more young women, and younger people in general, in ballroom. I'm 29, and the average age does seem to be closer to 50ish, in the Pensacola, FL area. I think there are a number of obstacles: Sky high studio prices, too little exposure/information, not enough actual dance venues, the perception of ballroom as an old people's pastime, the fact that much contemporary music is not danceable, etc...

I would also love to hear form someone with short-term ideas for getting a younger crowd of people in my area involved in ballroom. What works?
Re: re: Promoting Ballroom Dancing - any ideas?
Posted by John Gulack
8/12/2010  2:30:00 PM

Do you remember the name of the drummer for the Diaboliques?

I was a teen in the mid 60's and loved coming to the civic. I was in a band that played there for a while called "Small World"

John Gulack
San Dimas, CA

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