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This website is dedicated to social dancing in Alabama and neighboring states. Be it ballroom, country-western, swing, argentine tango, cajun/zydeco or salsa, you'll find some information about your favorite dance style.

Come on in and stay a while and browse. Check the calendar of events, read Elita's inspiring column, view the picture gallery, the video clips, area newsletters and announcements, great southern dance links, dance tips, and even some quotes and jokes.

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Associated Web Sites

 
The Ballroom Club
Montgomery
 


Birmingham Ballroom Dance Association

 


North Alabama Dance Club
Florence

 

Dancing with Rene Z
After almost ten years on the air, this web site will close down at the end of this month. Thanks to all of you who have visited over the years.


Dancin' Ballroom closes doors
After serving Montgomery's dance community for 25 years, Ray Farris is retiring. Thanks Ray for all the joy you have brought to dancers throughout your long career. I hope you will stay in touch with the Montgomery dance community.

 
 


Southern Dance Links

 
 

Dance classes in the Montgomery area

Dance Organizations

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There are many organizations worldwide that govern some particular dance styles, activities, events, or dancers. Click HERE for access to some of their web sites.

Ballroom

Fridays
301 Club, 301 Dexter Avenue, Montgomery (The New Church, side entrance)

Class 6:30 $7/person.
June: American tango
July 13: Merengue
July 20: WCS with Chris & Emily Bailey
July 27: Merengue
  Classes taught by Steve Chambers

Party 7:30.


Strict Tempo Ballroom
436 Coliseum Blvd., Montgomery
www.stricttempo.com

Tuesday ballroom dance classes are no longer open to the public.

Self organized classes
Organize your own class and save. Get together 5 or more couples and we will teach you the dance of your choice in a group class setting on a mutually agreeable day and time.


Advanced Cha Cha

Tonya Speed Dance Connection
3370 Harrison Rd., Montgomery
Wednesdays 8:00-9:00
Classes taught by Steve Chambers

for details see www.dancechambers.com


Salsa
Tonya Speed Dance Connection
3370 Harrison Rd., Montgomery
Wednesdays 7:00

Classes taught by Calvin Elkings
www.eastalabamasalsa.com


 

Salsa

Rising Starz Dance Studio, 2140-H E. University Drive, Auburn
Mondays, 6:30
Classes taught by Calvin Elkins

for details see www.eastalabamasalsa.com


Argentine Tango

Rick and Lynda Wilson
 Tuesdays, at Frank Brown Recreation Center, 235 Opelika Rd., Auburn.

Tuesdays (no class 7/31)
 Beginner & Advanced Basics 6:00-7:00 $15
Int/Adv 7:0 0-8:30 $20

TBA
Milonga at
Strict Tempo Dance Studio, 436 Coliseum Blvd., Montgomery
2-3:30 Tango Gumbo Workshop
4:00-6:00 Milonga, $10
RSVP for workshops: Judy Hall, 334-277-3861, c.334-676-9088
jhall3861@charter.net.
Private lessons available Sunday between 11:00-1:00, $50. Call 404-325-1360
rickandlynda@tangosalon.com
www.tangosalon.com



Strict Tempo Ballroom
436 Coliseum Blvd., Montgomery
www.stricttempo.com

July 8 - Milonga 4-6.

 

Alabama Amateur Dancers in the Spotlight

Congratulations to these Alabama amateur dancers.

Kathy Jones (right) of Prattville and Kimmie Yee (left) of Birmingham for placing in the 2012 UCWDC World Championships in Orlando. Kimmie Yee placed 3rd in Diamond Intermediate and 5th in Crystal Intermediate, while Kathy placed 3rd in Female Gold Novice. And a big hand to Chris Bailey, their coach and partner.

 


And congratulations also to Darry Martin of Gadsden and Sara Coates who were the only finalists from Alabama at the USA Dance 2011 National DanceSport Championships. They placed 3rd in the Senior III Championship Rhythm division.


Kathy Jones of Prattville places 1st placer overall, Pro Am gold novice at the 1912 Peach State. Congratulations. You just keep piling up those wins.



Carmine Rucco and Maria Bolyard of Huntsville place first in Senior I gold and Novice Rhythm, as well as second and third in various categories of rhythm, smooth and standard at the 2011 USA Dance national DanceSport Championships in Baltimore.


Bob and Debbie Pratico ranked 2nd in Novice Standard, and 5th in Novice Smooth at the USA Dance National Championships.
 

Ballroom dancing in Alabama

Most of us have no idea how much work and dedication it takes to organize and keep a dance club going. We Alabamians are truly fortunate to have so many hard working dance club volunteers organizing and hosting ballroom dance events in towns and cities across the state almost every day of the year. Show your support by becoming a members of these clubs and by attending their dances. You'll not only add a lot of enjoyment to your life, it will also improve your physical and mental health.

Look at the Events page. There are between 250 and 350 social dances listed every month. Let's all go dancing and enjoy the benefits of exercise, mental stimulation, and pleasant company. Or, as my friend, Heather Diodati of www.whimsies-online.com would say: "Carpe Dancem" (seize the dance).

National Ballroom Dance Week
More than twenty years ago (September 1989), Mary Helen Mc Sweeney, a member of the Greater New York Chapter of USABDA (now USA Dance), started a weeklong celebration of Ballroom Dancing in New York City. Soon, this idea of a "Ballroom Dance Week" took off outside of New York City, and the third week of September officially became National Ballroom Dance Week.
Like to listen to oldies
Jukebox lets you listen to dozens of 50's and 60's songs. Click Here .

Ole
Why do we go dancing?
All of us have different motivations to go dancing. To meet old friends and make new acquaintances? To dance for the sake of dancing? To feel alive and active? Dancing satisfies many of our most basic physical and emotional needs.
Read more

The great divide
Did you know that the way we dance here in America is not the way they do it in the rest of the world?
Click here to find out what the difference is.

The best dancing ever

For those who are old enough to remember and those who wish they were.
The dancers are Fred Astaire and Eleanor Powell
The year: 1940 (72 years ago)
The narrator is Frank Sinatra.
It was filmed in ONE unedited camera shot!
It is considered by many as one of the best dance scenes ever filmed.
Watch the video
.
Ballroom Dancing
Ballroom dance may refer, at its widest, to almost any type of social dancing as recreation (see below). However, with the emergence of DanceSport in modern times, the term has become narrower in scope. It usually refers to the International Standard and International Latin style dances (see dance.

These styles were developed in England, and are now regulated by the World Dance Council.  In the United States, two additional variations are popular: American Smooth and American Rhythm.

Read more at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ballroom_dancing

What's age got to do with it?
For the last 25 years, Mary Peterson (86) and Steven Behr have organized an annual outreach program in Hawaii, doing presentations and many ballroom lessons at nursing and retirement facilities, senior centers and on Alzheimer unit.


Salsa anybody? This lady is 92, dancing the "son" and salsa with her great grandson. Watch her fabulous performance. Click HERE to view clip.


The Daily tracked down the oldest couple to be married -- 90-year-old Rose Pollard and her husband Forrest Lunsway, 100, of southern California. (If you watch the video clip below you'll see that they love ballroom dancing.)

The pair dated for 30 years, but it was Rose who didn't want to race to the alter. She told the cameras, Forrest "got down on his knees and asked me to marry him and then he says, 'Name the date,' so I said I'll marry you on your 100th birthday."

The director of the local senior center planned the wedding, pretending it was a birthday party for Mr. Lunsway, but Rose brought along a minister for the promised nuptials.

Her romance tips? "Be forgiving and patient and say I love you, I guess, every once in a while."

Then Forrest tells her, "Love ya," and they hug and I get misty-eyed.

http://youtu.be/qVg7pc3B5_A


Here's a fantastic threesome of seniors who haven't heard that they are supposed to slow down when getting older. If you do East Coast Swing, watch closely, you can learn some neat tricks.

http://youtu.be/uNE3YSr_o2A


Mathilda Klein is 94. Watch her do the Quickstep. Many people half her age aren't able to move like this, and with such grace, artistry and technical excellence. http://youtu.be/8LOdmka4_90




Suzy Robbins from Florence, AL and I performing a Cha Cha routine at the 2005 Birmingham, AL dance marathon. I am 72, my partner is in her 60's. http://youtu.be/xAPxqAAUNLE

Ballroom Dance Styles

Murray Echols of Birmingham reminds us: ballroom dancing includes 17 styles of dances:  Foxtrot, Waltz, Viennese Waltz (fast), East Coast Swing, West Coast Swing, Jive, Hustle, Quickstep, Polka, Chacha, Tango, Rumba, Samba, Mambo, Merengue, Bolero, Paso Doble.  Many ballroom dancers learn eight to ten of these well.  Some know the basics of many of the others.  Some only learn a few such as East Coast Swing, Waltz, Chacha, Rumba, and still enjoy the dances very much.  Others do their own street styles of slow dancing and jitterbug (ECS) and can hold their own and enjoy.  Some dancers get their start in swing dancing or Country-Western dancing or Cajun/Zydeco dancing or line dancing or round dancing, and use what they have learned to become ballroom dancers also.  All dance styles use some steps invented by Greeks and Romans as early as 750 BC, and from many other countries and groups later.

Swing anybody?
According to the National Fast Dance Association, there are 11 distinct Swing styles. Many of these styles are unique to particular regions:
Bop, Beach Bop - Jacksonville, FL
Carolina Shag - Myrtle Beach, NC
East Coast Swing - most states
West Coast Swing - Southern CA
Jitterbug - Harlem, NYC, NY
Lindy - Harlem, NYC, NY
Hand Dance - Washington, DC
Imperial Swing - St. Louis, MO
Push - Dallas, TX
Whip - Houston TX
Balboa, Bal Swing - Southern CA.

Want to know more about the Texas Whip - http://www.ssqq.com/stories/whiphist.htm

Following - the art of doing nothing.
Find out why some teachers tell followers to do nothing. Click here to read more.

What's in a name?
Call it Club Swing, 4-count Swing, Merengue hustle or 4-count hustle, it's all the same swing or hustle steps done one step per beat. If you're doing it hustle-style, stay in the slot.

The health corner

Dancing helps Parkinson's patients
Doctors can't explain it. But Parkinson's patients who dance are normal again once they are on the dance floor. Click HERE to see the video clip. Here are two more clips: http://youtu.be/TZJloGxgcVI http://youtu.be/UEAaWPHDRbk .


Keep your heart healthy
Italian researchers found ballroom dancing is as effective as traditional cardiac rehabilitation in improving the health of people with heart trouble.

read more at
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6622283&sc=emaf


Burn those calories.
I just did a little calculation. Assume you're dancing for about 1 hour. You're dancing foxtrot the whole time. That means you are taking 4 steps to every 6 beats of music. Foxtrot is played at about 120 beats per minute, which means you're taking about 80 steps a minute. This adds up to 4,800 steps an hour.  That in my view is a very impressive workout, particularly if you consider that dances such as cha chas require 7 steps per six beats, and  triple step swings requires 8 steps for every six beats.


Keep your mind active
But dancing is not just good for the body. According to the latest research, it is equally as good for your mind.

The proof is in. Dancing is good for body and mind.
Did you know that 90 seconds of Latin competitive dancing requires the equivalent energy of running an 80 meter dash?
We all know that dancing is a good physical exercise. But unlike other activities, ballroom dancing also stimulates your brain cells. Medical studies show that ballroom dancing is far superior to many other physical activities in preventing dementia, such as Alzheimer's.
Read more


Men, listen up! Ballroom dancing can reduce the symptoms of prostatism.
Dr. Jonathan V. Wright, a noted expert on male urinary problems writes this in his publication 'Nutrition and Healing':

BPH symptoms (frequency, urinary urgency, nocturnia, decreased size of stream, etc.) may not be caused by an enlarged prostate at all.

Instead they may be caused by a condition known as prostatism, which is related to the muscles in the prostate and the neck of the bladder. These smooth muscle cells are under the control of the sympathetic nervous system, and they tense up and contract just like all other muscles. The feelings that occur mimic the symptoms of BPH.

The key to relieving prostatism is adopting a treatment program that includes something that will relax your muscles. I had one patient who could only empty his bladder completely after a night of ballroom dancing. The motion of the dancing and the social atmosphere relaxed him sufficiently enough to regulate bladder function.


What is hand dance?
Hand Dance seems to be gaining in popularity in many parts of the country. Here is a description by Barry Durand from the D.C. web site http://www.smoothnez.com.

Hand dance is basically an older style of swing that is really popular in the African American communities in Washington DC and Baltimore with some spill over to Philadelphia. I have taken hand dance lessons off and on for the past year and can tell you first hand that it has properties of East coast swing (Jitterbug) as well as West coast swing. Some leads and follows are what I would call "street". Meaning that they kind of came up with their own rules that they all know. It is sometimes contrary to more established forms of dance such as ballroom, country, or west coast which have many similar properties of lead and follow. It is fun and is danced by many. I just had about 150 hand dancers at my swing event last weekend. The largest organization in the DC area is call Smooth & EZ. You can find out about them at http://www.smoothnez.com. See the hand dance history http://youtu.be/VtEBmJ5_u0Q


Read more interesting articles about ballroom dancing by clicking here.

Ballroom dancing - sport or art?

In order to sway the Olympic committee to include ballroom dancing as an Olympic event, the promoters of the Olympic movement coined the name "DanceSport". But is ballroom dancing really a sport? And is DanceSport, which relies on choreographed and rigorously rehearsed theatrical routines, really ballroom dancing? In addition, some of ballroom dancing's governing organization are engaged in a fierce battle over which one should have jurisdiction over Olympic DanceSport competitors.

All in all, it seems that the Olympic committee is not convinced of the merits of ballroom dancing as an Olympic sport.

One longtime adjudicator of both DanceSport and Ice Dancing competitions offers this insight.
Read more

In USA WEEKEND's Aug. 13-15, 2004 issue, the following was written about DanceSport and the Olympic games:
What is it? Basically, it's ballroom dancing. The sport is divided into two categories: Latin and Standard.
Why it should be included? "Research has shown DanceSport to be every bit as demanding on the cardiovascular system as track and field," says Jim Fraser, president of the Canadian Amateur DanceSport Association.
How it hopes to get recognized: "I've got actively involved in my own country's Olympic committee," Fraser says. "It's like applying for a job. You keep showing up, and they wonder,' What are we going to do with this guy?'"
Endorsement potential: Dicey. DanceSport "Is not our core market," says Tom Fox, a senior VP of Gatorade. "I don't want to sponsor something if no one is going to see it."
What the man on the street says: "Ballroom dancing isn't a sport. It's an art." - Lois Wheelock, 56, Plympton, Mass.

John Doerter from Little Rock, AR writes: Dance is "athletic art" IMO not sport.  I state this because "How" something is performed matters.   To me sports eliminate the subjective "How" as much as possible and concentrate only on the what.
 
Ice skating, Diving, Gymnastics, and synchronized swimming, are all examples of athletic art in the Olympics.   the form in which the "what" occurs is graded. 100 m crawl, High Jump, and water polo; are sport because the "opinion of the judges" is minimized to the greatest extent possible.  Doesn't matter how bad you look doing it, if you jump over a higher bar than everyone else without knocking it down... you win.  To me that is Sport. in it's pure form.  When you start judging form and style,  you are talking about Art.  As far as Ballroom dancing in the Olympics,  it belongs there as much as ice skating.  

Sara Scatasta, one of my web site visitors and e-mail friends writes the following, and includes the picture below:

There is one competition in Frankfurt (Hessen Tanzt) which is amazing. Imagine a skating ring divided in 8 dance floors, where 8 events run simultaneously and in each category (from bronze to open) there are at least a 100 couples registered. There were 5000 couples registered for this comp this past May. 1 Round can last 2 hours (attached is a picture). Here in Germany the cost of entering the floor is only 5 Euro  for the 10 dances, so there are a lot of people competing.

     

 

 

Acknowledgments

This web site was first aired in mid-January 2003 with the goal of providing ballroom dancers with accurate and current information on ballroom dance events in Alabama, with some emphasis on events in and within driving distance of Montgomery. Since then, the website has grown in size and scope, with a dance calendar of events that includes dances in several states, including Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, Florida, Georgia and Tennessee. Many of my dance friends tell me that they do not travel without first checking my website for places to dance at their destination. Today, the calendar of events lists more than 300 dance events every month in 7 states.

Many of  you are regularly visiting this site for an average of more than 30 visits every day, or a total of close to 80,000 visits as of January 2012. This is far more than I ever expected. My sincere thanks to all my web visitors. I hope I can keep the content interesting and relevant. My special thanks to Murray Echols of Birmingham for providing me with valuable information, much needed encouragement,  and sound advice from the very beginning.

My thanks to ballroom dancers, ballroom club organizers, ballroom dance bands and suppliers of ballroom dance products for their support and help. Without them, a non-commercial web site such as this would not be possible.

My thanks also to web masters throughout Alabama, neighboring states and from other places in the U.S.A. and abroad who have kindly provided a link to my web site for their visitors.

Special thanks to those tireless people who regularly compile newsletters containing dance information for their particular area. Without them, it would be extremely difficult for me to keep up-to-date on dance events throughout the Southeast.

And finally, thanks to all the ballroom dance enthusiasts who visit my site, send me encouraging e-mail, and talk to me at dances. I sincerely value their encouragement, ideas and suggestions.

René Zgraggen
Montgomery, AL

               
     

Published by:
René Zgraggen
(334) 263-5566
renez@renez.com


     
Since 01/13/03
           
             
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