Competing in the recent Collegiate National Dancesport Championships and USA National Dance Championships from April 1-3, the Ballroom Dance Club at Georgia Tech earned a sixth place overall national ranking.
“Although we had alumni competing alongside the team, the ranking only includes our current college competitors, the vast majority of whom were newcomers who started dancing this year or even this semester,” said Chris Gibbs, first-year IE and current club treasurer. “We’ve played against some teams that have more than doubled our size, so we’re very proud of that.”
Each year, the Ballroom Dance Club competition team travels to compete in collegiate and adult competitions across the United States, such as the Southeastern DanceSport Championship, Ohio Star Ball, Arnold DanceSport Classic and others.
“It was our team’s third competition of the semester and fifth of the year,” Gibbs said. “Our dances were very competitive each time.”
At the most recent competition, Gibbs and her dance partner, BMED third-year Nicole Diaz, received national ranking in the bronze division for tango and mambo dance style. More than half of the other pairs on the competition team also received similar or better rankings in other divisions and dance styles.
“To attend a ballroom competition is just amazing,” said Brittney Bush, third-year CS and current president of the Ballroom Dance Club.
“You work so many hours in practice to just go out there and show the judges what you can do… You can also dress up and wear an obscene amount of hairspray and makeup, which is just fun.”
In addition to attending competitions across the country, the Ballroom Dance Club hosts its own competition at Tech.
“We also host our own annual Helluva Dance Competition here on campus, and this year it will be on April 16,” said Gibbs.
“We’re welcoming her to CRC this year…we’ll be welcoming teams from five other universities and some local dance studios. Immediately following the all-day competition, we will move to the Exhibit Hall for our final social dance of the year, the Helluva Social. ”
The organization of the event, which will involve more than 100 dancers, required a lot of effort from the members of the Ballroom Dance Club.
“Our club has an entire committee dedicated to organizing this ballroom competition made up of current members and alumni to organize the event,” Bush said.
“Overall it was a lot of work, but we are very happy to welcome so many dancers this weekend and give our students the opportunity to compete quite close to home.”
Outside of competitions, the Ballroom Dance Club also offers six social dances per year and weekly classes to foster a sense of community and teach newcomers ballroom dancing.
“Most of the events we host are social events for the Tech community and Atlanta,” Bush said. “We start the event with a beginners lesson in a few styles and then we have a night of great music and fun dancing as people wonder to dance along to each new song.”
People who enjoy spending time at a social event can attend classes to learn more about the technique behind the dances. The first lesson is always free, but a membership fee is required for repeated participation.
“We teach weekly social classes for beginners and intermediates, where we start from scratch at the start of each semester to teach members up to 10 ballroom and Latin dance styles,” said Gibbs.
Students who learn different dance styles through social lessons can then try out for the competitive team each semester at the start of term.
Gibbs encourages interested students to attend an event, adding that the inclusiveness of Tech’s Ballroom Dance Club makes it an organization particularly geared towards dancers of all backgrounds.
“As the global ballroom dancing community, particularly at the professional level, continues to move forward in terms of inclusion, our club has been at the forefront of change,” said Gibbs.
“At our club, we want people to love dancing, so we ask them to choose the role they prefer. Don’t let a particular gender identity or its association deter you from checking it out. We have talented female leaders, male followers and non-binary dancers who each adapt their performance to their own personality.
Bush also tells students to reach out if they’re interested in getting involved with the Ballroom Dance Club, describing his many favorite memories of being in the organization.
“The Ballroom Dance Club has provided me with an outlet to exercise, make amazing friends, and express myself through movement,” Bush said.
“For me and many others, going to practice is our escape from the stress of being a student here at Tech…There are a plethora of fun times both in class, in practice and during competitions.