BALLROOM DANCING . . . ALIVE AND KICKING
Social, or contact, dancing is back. And it’s about time, say
those who remember spending a rare Saturday night and a hard-earned
dollar to “Swing and Sway with Sammy Kaye’ in one of the
big-city ballrooms. Think of those wonderful nights when Guy Lombardo
would furnish the background music for us to meet a girl and have her in
our arms 30 seconds later, to waltz, to fox-trot or to two-step until
the midnight hour when the sad-sweet strains of “Good Night
Sweetheart’ would bring us back to reality.
The disco boom is dead, and few are its mourners, even among that
group who wouldn’t know the Waltz King from Wayne King–or Wayne
King from King Henry VIII, for that matter. Break dancing, the latest
attempt 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 the
And so it’s back to the dance creations of yesterday, led by
the most romantic of them all, the stately waltz. Introduced in London
in 1816, it was scathingly criticized as “indecent.’ Today,
some 2 million people are reveling in the indecency, having discovered
what surfers, skiers, golfers and joggers have perhaps overlooked.
Briefly: Ballroom dancing is a fun way to exercise, an easy way to make
new friends, a way to acquire grace and poise and to relieve stress. In
contrast to the solitude of hang-gliding or needlework, it’s a
hobby that couples can do together.
How does dancing rate with weight lifting and mountain climbing for
exercise and fitness? Consider this: The dance master Arthur Murray
plays a mean game of tennis at age 89. Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire and
Donald O’Connor are still going strong. Bob Hope, who once taught
dancing, does the old soft-shoe with the same old verve at 81. And
George Burns is no slouch as a hoofer at 88.
Dancing requires you to move your entire body, especially the
largest muscle group, your legs. “It’s tremendous,’ says
a new convert to this most elegant of contact sports. “I used to
do 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-woman
relationship performed in an atmosphere of happiness, music and
laughter.’ A 60-year-old rug cutter adds, “Being active keeps
you young. Cooped up at home, you fade away–dancing, you
In a recent study done at East Stroudsburg State College in
Pennsylvania, researchers determined that high-intensity dancing was
equal to a half-hour jog at 5 1/2 miles per hour, or a half-hour of
basketball, handball or swimming. But increasing one’s fitness
level calls for active dancing a minimum of 20 minutes three times a
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 the
ballrooms in their areas. One man says he had tried skydiving but
“most satisfying in the last three months is beginner ballroom
dancing.’ A self-described ballroom fanatic tells of the many
acquaintances she has made by “getting out and dancing.’
Another says, “I see a lot of people in their 80s who are still
dancing. It helps keep them supple and interested in people and in
life.’ Singles’ note: That interest has led more than one
couple to continue dancing down the aisle to the altar.
As for the ballrooms, they are ready whenever you are. Here are
some 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 a
lively pace for amateur ballroom-aholics to follow.