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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.

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