Technology has a plethora of clubs, teams, and groups for almost any type of hobby or interest. Even with the emphasis on campus-wide intellectual pursuits, Tech still has plenty of intramural sports and even an archery club. With such a wide range of interests, it’s no surprise to learn of Tech’s Ballroom Dance Club (GTBDC).
On March 28, GTBDC organized their Spring Fling, a dance party where they enjoy the evening, in addition to teaching some ballroom dances to those in attendance. This event allowed people new to ballroom dancing to learn about the art and those who already love the sport to spend time practicing and having fun in general. Organizing dance parties is only a small part of what Tech’s BDC does, and the Technical was able to question its leaders to find out more about the club.
Technical: First of all, how did the Ballroom Dance Club come about and how long has it been active on campus?
GTBDC: The Georgia Tech Ballroom Dance Club was formed about nine or ten years ago by a Chinese graduate student. Since then we’ve been active pretty much every year, but I don’t think we were a very involved or competitive organization until a few years ago. It used to be that we only run one social per semester, whereas now we try to run about four to five – so about once a month – and attend about two competitions per semester as well.
Technical: Is the club open to all members of the Georgia Tech community? What happens in a typical meeting?
GTBDC: Yes, our club is open to anyone who is part of the Georgia Tech community – not just students, but faculty and staff as well! In general, we have two types of meetings: practices and lessons.
Classes are typically two hours long and we have instructors on hand to teach our members new steps and techniques. Most dances are learned separately (i.e. men learn their part without women and vice versa) before we pair people up.
Practice sessions are simply open studio time available for students interested in honing and improving their techniques or steps, or solving questions about the routines taught in the lessons. Typically, the number of people coming to open practices is much lower than the number of people attending classes, making it much easier to get individual advice from more experienced dancers at the club.
We also have social dances or monthly parties at the Georgia Tech Student Center, where we spend about an hour teaching one in two of the many dances we teach in our classes and then spend the rest of the night dancing socially. Since these events are free and open to the public, and no previous dance experience is required to attend, parties are really a great way to test ballroom dancing and see if it’s something. that interests you.
Technical: The term “ballroom dance” seems to encompass several styles. Are there any styles or techniques the club likes to focus on?
GTBDC: Ballroom dancing has four main styles – Standard, Latin, Smooth, and Rhythm. These can be divided into two groups, the American styles (Smooth and Rhythm) and the International styles (Standard and Latin). Smooth and Standard are more like what one usually thinks of when thinking of ballroom dancing – things like Waltz, Foxtrot, and Tango are included in these groups, while Rhythm and Latin are more affectionate (think Cha-cha or Samba). The American and International styles are similar in that they have some of the same dances, but there are significant differences in the techniques and sequences used, which is why they are considered separate categories.
Our club teaches international styles in our classes, although some members enjoy learning American styles in their spare time during open practices.
Technical: Is this strictly a learning club or is there some level of competition as well?
GTBDC: Most of the members just come to socialize and learn and dance, although we have a small group of people who also participate in competitions frequently. We try to encourage more of our students to participate in competitions, especially those who are new and have never been before, as these events are usually a lot of fun.
Typically, we attend college level competitions, where we send our couples out against those from other schools in a two day event. Most competitions are out of state; our most recent was in Ohio, and all but three of our competing dancers progressed in turns with two pairs taking first place in their level.
Technical: Do you think activities like dancing are important in a relatively stressful environment like Tech?
GTBDC: Definitively. It’s important to have a hobby or something that can help you unwind after a stressful week – and that’s precisely why ballroom dancing is great! Plus, you exercise for at least two hours a week (or more if you’re coming to workout) and the social aspect is really wonderful as well. Everyone in the club is very friendly and our experienced dancers are always ready to get to know each other and help new faces. It’s a great way to make new friends and meet new people.
Technical: How big is the club today and do you have any specific plans for the future?
GTBDC: Currently the club is quite small – we have about thirty or forty paying members at the moment, and the number of those who regularly attend our classes is less than that. But we would love to welcome new people and introduce anyone who is interested in dancing in a ballroom, even if they have never danced before.
As for plans for the future, we hope to get more involved on campus and with other dance organizations here at Tech, other nearby schools, and Atlanta to provide our members with the best dance experience possible. while they’re here.