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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)
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