I’ve written before about taking dance classes and getting involved in some of the social dance activities that are offered in our community, such as ballet, contra dancing and clog dancing. Many people I know, however, have confessed to me that they would like to learn a different kind of dance: ballroom dance.
Most of the people actually made it sound as if it were some sort of dirty little secret, speaking in what I could swear were almost whispers when I broached the subject. All of those who confessed were women, though, so maybe it’s just a dirty little secret they keep from their husbands or boyfriends. I wouldn’t be surprised; so far, the reception I’ve received when asking some of the men I know whether they’d want to learn ballroom dance has been lukewarm at best — and by that I mean everything from dismissive laughter to one friend referring to it as “pompously formal.”
Of course, not all men feel that way (obviously — otherwise, with whom would the women be dancing?). Philip Jensen, a member of the Central Pennsylvania Ballroom Dance Association described ballroom dance as creative communication from a man’s perspective.
“Ballroom dance is fun — and romantic. You can link the various steps — the figures — together any way you want,” he said. “There’s a fun communication with your partner because you, the male, have to subtly signal to your partner what the next step is.”
CPBDA welcomes new members any time and offers dance lessons by a professional instructor, as well as a social dance.
“Our dances start with an hour to an hour-and-a-half dance lesson followed by a three-hour dance with a live band,” Jensen said. “Folks are quite welcoming no matter the skill level.”
I’m actually using ballroom dance as an umbrella term here. Depending on the source, “ballroom” can be limited to dances such as the waltz and fox trot, or it can include other types of social dancing, such as the tango, rumba, salsa as well as swing.
Dance Harmony is another resource for those who don’t know much about ballroom but would like to try. The group offers a full schedule of a variety of dance lessons, practices and dances throughout the year, which are held in Lewistown, Spring Mills or Pleasant Gap.
Other resources include Penn State and Centre Region Park and Recreation. The Penn State Ballroom Dance Club is open to students, faculty and staff. According to the website, they offer “salsa, Argentine tango, social ballroom dances, hustle, West Coast swing, competition ballroom dances, anything else any of our enthusiastic members desire to teach and much more. We hold lessons five days a week of various dances.”
CRPR offers Tuesday night ballroom dance lessons throughout the rest of this year, starting on Tuesday. Again, no experience is necessary.
The key is to remember that ballroom doesn’t have to be about being perfect — or pompous. Jensen summed it up nicely.
“There are two kinds of ballroom dancers: those who strive to be technically accurate and those who don’t and just like to dance with a partner.”
And isn’t it all about just trying something different and having fun?
Sherry Coven can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.