Dancemax Letter #25, Thursday, Nov 16, 2000
Dancing at Bally
You heard it right, I said "Bally, not Belly ."
My real motivation to write this letter is to share with you my expereince at the Bally Total Fitness Health Clubs and Ballroom and Latin Dance lessons in USA. It was a simple idea which is now paying big dividends.
Preamble: I believe the cost of ballroom instruction is a tremendous burden on the pocket of an average person on the street. I am not saying that Dance Teachers or Studios don't deserve that kind of money. On the contrary, I think the dance industry is most skillful, dedicated, hard working and extremely underpaid.
Bally Total Fitness is one of the largest Health Clubs in USA with facilities around every major city. About 6 months ago I took a Yoga and an Aerobics class and really enjoyed it. There was this Maplewood ballroom size floor, mirrors, music etc. It is obvious what flashed through my mind, Ballroom! Why not? A lot of traffic and excellent facilities, hey there is the whirlpool, sauna and swimming too. I really was excited. As I approached the Coordinator, they were delighted to introduce the Dance Class and we started meeting 2 days a week for an hour or so. It was not very encouraging for a few weeks, one person here and two there, I thought my God, what's wrong with people. I blamed it on my not being very handsome or simply not being a good teacher.
If you know USA, you know that there are hundreds of dances with thousands of styles and myriad of step patterns. It is mind boggling. We decided that we will adhere to Standard Ballroom and Latin. The attendance lingered on and at times it was disappointing. To make it brief, as we were "playing good music" and dancing energetically people started to watch and observe and we would always have a good audience. Audience participation turned into active dance participation and now we have about 10 to 12 students filling that room on a Friday and Sunday afternoon. The program is sailing along and we have really taken 4 to 6 serious newcomer dancers who are now interested in more advanced instruction. Patience has its rewards.
Think about it. I am sure You have health clubs around you. I know there are schools and church groups, etc., but I think this is another avenue to explore. USABDA has done its share to propagate this art in the Colleges and Schools and that program is very strong. The health Clubs are an excellent potential to start small groups.
Price: The membership at our Club to use facilities is about $10 to $30 per month. For the dance class you can buy a passport for $20.00 for 10 lessons. Howabout that! $2.00 for 1 hr. group lesson, that's a bargain. Hopefully there will be a Bally Dance Team soon. Look for us at the Olympics. Any feedback on this subject is welcome.
You heard the hoopla, how bad NBC coverage was of Sydney Olympics Dancesport and certainly Hoopla it was. But Let us face the fact that the perception of Dancing in General Public's mind is not a serious one and they think it is for sissies. They dont know how wonderful it is for your health and the calorie burnout is comparable to many other sports, 200 to 350 cals. per hr. We have to continue to work hard to educate the public regarding benefits of Dancing and work harder to make it more affordable.
This was a lighthearted talk on dancing, best wishes..Max
Questions and comments to Dancemax@aol.com, thank you.