Tech 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 held their Spring Fling, a dance party where they enjoy the evening, in addition to teaching some ballroom dancing to those in attendance. This event provided an opportunity for people new to ballroom dancing to learn about the art and for those who already enjoy the sport to spend time practicing and having fun in general. Hosting dance parties is just a small part of what BDC de Tech does, and the Technical was able to interview its leaders to find out more about the club.
Technical: First, how did the Ballroom Dance Club first form 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 – most of our activities revolved around social dancing and dance. learning steps until fairly recently. Previously, it seems like we only had one social event per semester, whereas now we try to have about four to five – so about once a month – and participate in 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 everyone who is part of the Georgia Tech community – not just students, but also faculty and staff! Generally, we have two types of meetings – practices and classes.
Classes are usually two hours long and we have instructors present who teach new steps and techniques to our members. Most dances are learned separately (meaning the men learn their role without the women and vice versa) before pairing people together.
Practice sessions are simply open studio time available for students interested in refining and improving their techniques or steps, or resolving questions about the routines taught in the lessons. Typically, the number of people who come to open practices is much lower than the number of people who attend classes, which makes it much easier to get one-on-one advice from more experienced dancers in the club.
We also host monthly dance or social parties at the Georgia Tech Student Center, where we spend about an hour teaching a lesson 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 prior dance experience is required to attend, the parties are really a great way to test out ballroom dancing and see if it’s something that interests you.
Technical: The term “ballroom dancing” 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, American Styles (Smooth and Rhythm) and International Styles (Standard and Latin). Smooth and Standard are more like what one typically imagines when thinking of ballroom dancing – things like Waltz, Foxtrot and Tango are included in these groups, while Rhythm and Latin are more enticing ( think Cha-cha or Samba). 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 like to learn American Styles in their spare time during open workouts.
Technical: Is it strictly a learning club, or is there some level of competition as well?
GTBDC: Most members just come to learn and dance socially, although we do have a small group of people who also frequently compete. We try to encourage more of our students to get involved in competitions, especially those who are new and have never competed before, as these events are usually a lot of fun.
Typically, we attend college-level competitions, where we send our pairs to compete 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 advanced through the rounds, with two couples taking first place in their levels.
Technical: Do you think activities like dancing are important in a relatively stressful environment like Tech?
GTBDC: Absoutely. It’s important to have a hobby or something that can help you relax after a stressful week, and that’s exactly what ballroom dancing is for! Plus, you work out at least two hours a week (or more, if you come to train) and the social aspect is also really wonderful. Everyone in the club is very friendly and our experienced dancers are always ready to meet 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 around thirty or forty paying members at the moment, and the number who regularly attend our classes is less than that. But we would love to welcome new people and introduce anyone who is interested in ballroom dancing, even if they have never danced before.
As for plans for the future, we hope to become more involved on campus and with other dance organizations here at Tech, at other nearby schools, and in Atlanta to provide our members with the best dance experience. that they can get while they’re here.