Ballroom has hit a renaissance, with programmes like Strictly Come Dancing dispelling its myth of antiquity. Instead its speedy steps; dapper dress and modern music have been exposed.
Glasgow Ballroom Dancing Society instructor Julia White said: “Ballroom is not just a stuffy old waltz that travels around the room. It can be a fiery Latin Samba, graceful Foxtrot or a whirling- twirling Viennese Waltz. There is something in it for everyone and can be lots of fun; even addictive.”
Having moved from America to Annisland, White (who is now 24) sought to continue Ballroom and this brought her to the Glasgow club.
She said: “Unfortunately at the time the club didn`t have a competing group, so I began to help plan trips to competitions. The group is currently in its 3rd year but the competitive aspect only began this year, and the response has been even greater than expected.
“With expansion of the club we have found more experienced students to help teach some of the introductory classes, and just this year we found a professional to help teach the more experienced dancers.”
Leading the group is Society President Marit Behner, she and White join the rest of the executive board booking rooms, organising events and keeping members happy.
21- year- old Behner, joined the group in 2013, but first started dancing at age thirteen in Germany (where Ballroom is a rite of passage). Having lost practice for a while, Behner returned to the art in college, before joining the Glasgow Society in 2013.
Despite her early start, Behner explains that the art is open to everyone, with no previous experience needed.
She said: “We aim to make beginners classes so everyone can join and learn dancing from scratch. Once you know the basics you can move up to intermediate class.”
White agrees: “Our beginner’s class is perfect for anyone that has never danced before, and for those who have danced but want to learn the basic Ballroom footwork. As dancers progress they can move up to the intermediate class which adds addition footwork and moves.
“We don’t force anyone to move up; they can come to as many of the classes as they want, although the more they do come the faster they will learn.”
Classes run Monday and Wednesday in Glasgow University’s Union and Chapel buildings. Updates on class locations can be found on the Society’s facebook page.
Monday hosts an open floor from 2 to 3pm, where dancers can practice and socialize, then it’s Beginners from 3 to 4pm and Intermediates from 4 to 5pm. Wednesday from 3 to 4pm is a mixed Intermediate and Beginners class; then from 4 to 5pm is Competitors. Class slots also vary from term to term.
Beginners and Intermediate classes are £5 is per lesson, with the fourth free. Competitors’ classes are a further £5.
Beginners need only bring themselves, no fancy footwear or partner is required.
Behner said: “Our intermediate and beginner classes are open without a partner; we rotate partners throughout the class, to keep it mixed and sociable.
“For our competitive class however, we ask people to come with a set partner, though we help pairing people up at the beginning of term.”
She added: “We have a good mix of ladies and gents or leaders and followers. At some points we have more leaders, at others more followers, but it is no problem pairing people with the same gender. In fact, it’s taught me a lot more than just being a follower.
“In terms of age we have mostly students attending, but are open to all ages as long as people enjoy dancing.”
A standard class teaches two different dance styles, usually one Latin (such as Rumba, Chacha or Samba) and one Standard Ballroom (such as Tango, Waltz, and Quickstep).
White concluded: “There are wonderful benefits to dancing, whether it`s gaining confidence, improving posture, getting in better shape or even just making new friends. It`s fun and the people are friendly. There`s nothing to lose from trying.”
For more information visit the Glasgow Ballroom Dancing Society facebook page.