In December of 1995, my husband Bob said, “Put on some shoes without rubber soles and come with me.” Annoyed, I asked him repeatedly where we were going - but he refused to tell. After much badgering, he admitted we were going somewhere to get my last holiday present.
I stayed annoyed with him for the remainder of the trip, and could not imagine why what shoes I wore had to do with anything - until we pulled up to a ballroom dance studio. Although I had wished for years that we could get up on the dance floor with everyone else whenever we went to a wedding or other social event, I didn’t know much about ballroom dancing.
Little did I know that this was the beginning of a new passion in our lives. We started out, as many couples do, taking lessons together. It did not take long before we discovered that we each had different needs. I wanted to look good on the dance floor, and had many questions about styling and technique. As we often danced in social situations, my husband wanted to know about room alignments and floorcraft - how could he adjust the step patterns we knew when dancing on a crowded floor? This led to each of us working individually with our instructors, in addition to the lessons we took together.
Although our primary interest in taking dance lessons was to improve our social life - being the kind of people that work hard at anything we do and do it to the best of our abilities - it didn’t take much to succumb to the lure of competition. We were soon competing both Pro-Am and as an amateur couple, and have never looked back!
Our love of dance has allowed us to make many new friends and has led us many places, the most memorable of which was participating in (and winning!) a dance marathon on
“Good Morning America” in 2001. Not only did we last on our feet for 25 hours, but we were probably twice the age of most other dancers.
In retrospect, it seems hard to believe that “just a few dance lessons” has turned into (as Bob is fond of saying) the gift that went wild – but we wouldn’t have it any other way.
As avid ballroom dancers, we have traveled many miles from our New Jersey home in search of the ideal spot to engage in this sport. We have found places that are great for when we are in the mood to work hard on practicing our technique and partnering, and places for when we are in the mood to just have fun, but in either case what draws us back to any particular venue has always been the music.
The dance floor does not have to be large (or even clean!), there doesn’t need to be a large selection of food to keep us going (although plenty of water is a must), and the other dancers do not even have to be aware of dance floor etiquette (though it helps) - but if the music doesn’t make us want to stay on our feet all night (or most of it), we probably won’t be back.
Our love of dance had driven us to acquire quite a collection of what we considered great ballroom music, when some friends of ours approached us in the fall of 2001 with the idea of starting a dance social of our own. Needless to say, they asked us to handle the music for these events - and we quickly agreed. We selected a computerized DJ package and began the laborious process of converting our music to digital format. At this point, our comprehensive Dance Music Library contains over 25,000 titles and is continuing to grow every day. Our sources include not only professional Ballroom and Latin CDs, but also popular music that we have modified to the correct dance tempo.
While preferences in music certainly vary from person to person, what we decided to use as our criteria when choosing music to play was really very simple - does it make us feel like we just have to get up and move, or doesn’t it? We get great satisfaction when we watch dancers who were heading for their seats at the end of a song turn around and pull each other back out to the dance floor time and again as a new piece begins. And we know we’re doing something right when our regulars say they come back for the music – try us out and see!