What is Ballroom Dancing..
Some time ago while watching an old movie with my huge extended family, my mother in law asked "where can one go to to dance like that now?" Are there any events that require tuxedos, gowns, and have orchestras playing music that can be danced to? We were watching a scene of couples dressed up, and dancing a slow foxtrot to beautiful music. The kind of scene where the couple is talking to each other while looking into each others eyes. Imagine being able to talk without yelling on a dance floor today! This was the kind of statement that frequently ran through my mind. Especially approaching New Year's Eve.
Dancing is a lost form of social interaction, and I have been aware of this all my life. It has been replaced by lone wigglers looking for their own reflection in the mirror. Whereas it was once either fun, romantic, challenging, (maybe all of the above.) to dance, there seems to be nothing to it that could not be equaled to putting music on in your own home and jumping around. Even as a teenager, after being in one nightclub a few times I had gotten the wiggling by myself out of my system. I was done with night clubs!
I would turn on my television set at just about any time during the day to find the I Love Lucy show. There I would see, couples dancing in pairs. It looked so civilized and exciting, too bad the art of social dancing is lost.
As a former ballet dancer, ballroom dancing has always fascinated me, so I began going to underground clubs. Sophisticated places where competitive, and country club dancers would go for entertainment. What an exciting sample of what it must have been like to go to a night club in the 1930's or 40's. The variety of dances to learn, and the handsome and charming men who knew how to lead. This was entirely different, I could easily do this every weekend and look forward to doing all week.
What a treat to listen to a talented orchestra playing their music at just the right decibel level, rather than trying to blow our ears off, or forcing us to yell at our friends. When that upbeat three count would start, all the most energetic would run to the floor, and some of the less energetic would dance a slower single count. The competitive dancers would now have their chance to triple step or jive. As on any dance floor, some were better dancers than others, but they were all doing it, and having fun.
Not one person is seeking himself out in the mirror, there is no need to, because its real fun, and its something people are enjoying together.
The next number may be the opposite of a swing number so that everyone may catch a breath. A beautiful, elegant, waltz may start, and the men would walk towards the lady he wishes to waltz with by extending his hand, and if she accepts, they walk arm and arm toward the dance floor for a floating, and romantic waltz. There is really nothing like doing a waltz. After I became relatively good in ballroom, my opinion has remained that the latin, and swing dances are fun to watch, but the smooth dances feel the best. This I have also heard from the old timers who were waltzing in the 40's. I can also recall my Aunt saying to her young grand daughter, "you don't have any idea what dancing is like until you have melted in the arms of a man you really like, while gliding across a dance floor." Of course I know what she is talking about because I have had that experience, thanks to my rebellious desire to experience ballroom, but her granddaughter just shrugged it off like the old lady does not have a clue.
The old world had a much better social entertainment formality than we have today. For people to have some basic understanding of a foxtrot, swing, waltz, samba, and so on, they have a basic understanding of music, and when they get up to dance they have to think about where the beat is, and what is appropriate for that piece, and how to lead or follow. Those who have never learned how to dance ballroom, or are under 70, have no idea what I am talking about and will try to equate wiggling to the music as the same thing as understanding the art of leading, following, and dancing.
Along with my ballroom friends, I create my own "sophisticated events" by seeking out swing bands or orchestras to play for holidays, weddings, and New year's Eve. For people who still like to dance, it may not be available in any night club, but It can all be found, and its worth seeking out. There are ballroom clubs, and the lindy hoppers and swing dancers have always had their groups and events.
Bristol Palin on Dancing with the Stars
Dancing with the Stars Bringing Back Ballroom
Dancing with the stars along with other television shows and movies has renewed interest in real dancing. Dancing schools have sprung up throughout the country in effort to teach the traditional dances to eager students. Celebrities vie for the opportunity to compete on Dancing with the Stars and audiences copy their favorite celebrities on the dance floor.
Dancing will take off in a completely different way in the next few years. While there is renewed interest in dancing, most people will not learn the craft and it will be reserved for competitors, but we are seeing more events for those who appreciate beautiful music and the thrill of having someone important glide them across the dance floor.