BALLROOM DANCING .
. . ALIVE AND KICKING Social, or contact, dancing is back. And it’s about time, saythose who remember spending a rare Saturday night and a hard-earneddollar to “Swing and Sway with Sammy Kaye’ in one of thebig-city ballrooms. Think of those wonderful nights when Guy Lombardowould furnish the background music for us to meet a girl and have her inour arms 30 seconds later, to waltz, to fox-trot or to two-step untilthe midnight hour when the sad-sweet strains of “Good NightSweetheart’ would bring us back to reality.
The disco boom is dead, and few are its mourners, even among thatgroup who wouldn’t know the Waltz King from Wayne King–or WayneKing from King Henry VIII, for that matter. Break dancing, the latestattempt at a viable dance craze, is little more than a spectator sport,which will almost certainly wear itself to a frazzle by the end of theyear. And so it’s back to the dance creations of yesterday, led bythe most romantic of them all, the stately waltz. Introduced in Londonin 1816, it was scathingly criticized as “indecent.
‘ Today,some 2 million people are reveling in the indecency, having discoveredwhat surfers, skiers, golfers and joggers have perhaps overlooked.Briefly: Ballroom dancing is a fun way to exercise, an easy way to makenew friends, a way to acquire grace and poise and to relieve stress. Incontrast to the solitude of hang-gliding or needlework, it’s ahobby that couples can do together. How does dancing rate with weight lifting and mountain climbing forexercise and fitness? Consider this: The dance master Arthur Murrayplays a mean game of tennis at age 89.
Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire andDonald O’Connor are still going strong. Bob Hope, who once taughtdancing, does the old soft-shoe with the same old verve at 81. AndGeorge Burns is no slouch as a hoofer at 88. Dancing requires you to move your entire body, especially thelargest muscle group, your legs. “It’s tremendous,’ saysa new convert to this most elegant of contact sports. “I used todo sit-ups at home. That was work.
This is fun.’ Another dancer summarizes this blend of mind body and spirit:”Dancing is a form of active exercise involving a social man-womanrelationship performed in an atmosphere of happiness, music andlaughter.’ A 60-year-old rug cutter adds, “Being active keepsyou young. Cooped up at home, you fade away–dancing, youblossom.’ In a recent study done at East Stroudsburg State College inPennsylvania, researchers determined that high-intensity dancing wasequal to a half-hour jog at 5 1/2 miles per hour, or a half-hour ofbasketball, handball or swimming. But increasing one’s fitnesslevel calls for active dancing a minimum of 20 minutes three times aweek. The dance floor creates an ideal atmosphere for making new friends.The Post article “Dancing for Fun and Exercise’ (Nov.
’84) has inspired lonely readers to write for information on theballrooms in their areas. One man says he had tried skydiving but”most satisfying in the last three months is beginner ballroomdancing.’ A self-described ballroom fanatic tells of the manyacquaintances she has made by “getting out and dancing.’Another says, “I see a lot of people in their 80s who are stilldancing. It helps keep them supple and interested in people and inlife.’ Singles’ note: That interest has led more than onecouple to continue dancing down the aisle to the altar.
As for the ballrooms, they are ready whenever you are. Here aresome of them: Roseland Ballroom, New York, New York; Idora Ballroom, Youngstown, Ohio; King Phillip Ballroom, Wrentham, Massachusetts; Roaring 20s Ballroom, San Antonio, Texas; Bel-Rae Ballroom, New Brighton, Minnesota; Cotillion Ballroom, Wichita, Kansas; Val-Air Ballroom, West Des Moines, Iowa; Peony Park Ballroom, Omaha, Nebraska; Cocoanut Grove Ballroom, Santa Cruz, California; Medina Ballroom, Hamel, Minnesota; Willowbrook Ballroom, Willow Springs, Illinois; Col Ballroom, Davenport, Iowa Photo: Ballroom dancing is still popular all around the world.Professional champions Lindsey Tate and Stephen Hillier of England set alively pace for amateur ballroom-aholics to follow.