June 29, 2006

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Rumba and foxtrot, veggies and dip
Hippo intern brings cookies and learns to dance at couple’s event
By Elizabeth Tager news@hippopress.com

I have a confession: I can’t dance.

But that didn’t stop me from taking my boyfriend to the couples potluck dance party on Saturday night. Queen City Ballroom, which has been open for about six years, hosts this party on the first Saturday of every month. In the last year or so, beginner couples began to express their shyness at large ballroom dances; they felt as though being new at the steps slowed them down. Karen Tebeau, the owner, thought the couples needed a safe, comfortable environment so they could practice with people at their own level. Queen City Ballroom also has a night for singles to practice their dance moves. The ballroom used to have a general dance party, and some nights would have a mix of couples and singles, other nights not as much. By splitting the parties into two evenings, it gives people more of a chance to mingle and practice.

When my boyfriend, Tom, and I arrived, we weren’t sure what to expect. I made cookies to contribute to the potluck aspect. We were greeted by Ron Blankenstein, our instructor for the evening. He took us on a tour of the studio, explaining that wood is the preferred dance surface and how all of the music is saved on the computer, making it easier to choose certain dances.

There was a large dance floor in the first room and a smaller dance floor in the back. He set the same song to play in both rooms and the couples started the evening off with waltzes and foxtrots. Every once in a while, Ron would stop the music and conduct a mini lesson on how to do certain dances. The ones who knew it could dance in the back room and the beginners would stay in the front room and learn it. By the end of the night, Tom and I had learned to rumba, tango, cha-cha, waltz, swing and merengue (my favorite).

I found it interesting learning these dances to contemporary songs. I never knew “Shape of My Heart” by the Backstreet Boys was a rumba or that “Smooth” by Santana was a cha-cha. One of the couples that attended was fellow dance instructor Nadia Ezzat and her husband Marc Chouinard. Ron and Nadia started out as students at Queen City Ballroom.

Ron became an instructor in May of 2005 and Nadia became an instructor in January of this year.

There was no pressure to dance during every song or to be perfect at it. Couples would laugh and dance and then take a break for refreshments, which included cookies, pound cake and veggies with dip. Some danced for an hour straight and then called it a night, while others stuck around for the full three hours. Ron and his wife, Beth, danced a merengue that they made up as they went along. Beth explained the most important thing was to have fun with the dances, add your own flair and style to them.


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