10 weird things about ballroom dance

Disclaimer: I’ve been dancing ballroom for 8 years, so I say these things with love! Definitely not hating on ballroom, just pointing out some things about it that are kinda odd

  1. You usually don’t know who you are competing against, or even if you have ANY competitors in your division until the day you compete.
  2. Despite the physical demands of dancing, most pro-am dancers are over the age of 50. Which is awesome! Just a unexpected compared to other sports.
  3. There are hardly any younger men dancing as an amateur in a pro-am couple, because as soon as they get decently good they get picked up to become instructors.
  4. Competitions are set up where as an amateur you can never win enough prize money to recoup the cost of the competition 😦
  5. The fact that some competitions have “open bronze” and “open silver” categories. By definition if you are bronze you should be dancing the bronze syllabus. It means you are a beginner and are not ready for open choreography. In my opinion, levels should go Newcomer (where offered), Bronze, Silver, Gold, and then (the highest level) Open.
  6. As an amateur in a pro-am couple it’s rare that “your” routines are ever tailored to your skills/flexibility/height. Most studios have 1 routine per level that they teach all their students – aka 1 bronze routine, 1 silver routine, etc… That means if there are 3 students from a studio competing in the same division you will see them all do the same routine. This is a bummer because you want to feel special and for all the money you are paying, you would think you would have your own routine, something designed to showcase your talents and give you the best chance of placing well.
  7. Competitions often have multiple age and skill levels on the floor at the same time. Now this makes sense so the comp doesn’t drag on until 2am, but it’s certainly challenging if you are trying to dance a gold or open standard routine around a bunch of new students who are barely moving on the floor. It’s something you have to explain if you have family spectating, “No mom, I’m not competing against that 70 year old even though we’re on the floor at the same time.”
  8. Why are chain studios creating their own syllabuses?? It just means your routines have to be reworked if you ever want to compete at an “outside” comp, because that move they told you was silver is actually gold according to NDCA.
  9. At some (many?) studios you aren’t allowed to hang out with the instructors outside of work. It’s unfortunate because if you are a regular at the studio you become close to the instructors and yet you aren’t allowed to take them out to dinner for their birthday. Even if you get married (major life event!) and an instructor genuinely wants to come, they usually aren’t allowed to. Now yes, I realize this policy is intended to keep instructors safe and guard against favoritism. But still…
  10. It’s a surprisingly expensive sport considering it doesn’t require any “equipment” other than dance shoes and access to a wooden floor.

What did I miss? What struck you as odd when you first started taking lessons or competing?

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