Featuring cha-cha, tango, samba and more, members of Tyler’s Venetian Ballroom Dance Club will celebrate the club’s 100th dinner dance this week.
Members come to the club’s formal dances not only from the Tyler area, but also from around Jacksonville, Athens, Longview, and Greenville.
The club regularly holds its dinner dance six times a year in Willow Brook, with one every two months in September, November, January, March, May and July. A different band from the Dallas, Houston, Greenville or Tyler area plays each night. The dancing usually goes on until about 10:30 p.m. Men dress in tuxedos or optional coat and tie with women dressed in after-five or cocktail dresses.
The music begins while the club members eat dinner provided by Willow Brook and after eating the members engage in many styles of ballroom dancing including rumbas, waltzes, foxtrots, swing of the east coast, west coast swing, cha-cha, zumba, samba, latin dances, tango and others.
Susan Brock, president since the club’s inception, said: “It’s a wonderful opportunity to dress up and go out for a wonderful meal and dance to big band music and ballroom dancing in a safe and non-smoking atmosphere. It’s like having a high school prom or something similar every two months.
Each dinner dance has an illustrated theme of table decorations. September’s theme is the 100th dance. Other themes are City of Love, Full Moon Rising, South of the Border, Sizzling Summer, Red and Gold.
Brock said she and a friend had been members of a dance club that held dances in different locations, but wanted to start the Venetian Ballroom Dance Club which would hold its dinner dances only in Willow Brook. It has “a fabulous dance floor in a great room and the best dance area in Tyler with a country club feel,” Brock said.
“I personally thought Willow Brook offered the best opportunity to have a first-class place for people to come if they wanted to go to a formal dance,” Brock said. “We had enough people who wanted to do the same thing (create the new club).
Brock named it the Venetian Ballroom Dance Club because she thought the word “Venetian” sounded exotic.
Richard East, who helped Brock form the club, said: “There is a lot of interest in ballroom dancing and we decided a dinner dance would be good for everyone. It’s great fun to do. Everyone really enjoys the friendly crowd and the dancing.
Brock said, “The primary purpose of our club is to enjoy the classic elegance of ballroom dancing in a first class country club type atmosphere. The second goal is to have a good time.
Members are couples and singles from many walks of life, from beauticians to pastors, airline pilots to a former mayor, who all have in common a love of ballroom dancing. They are between 15 and 90 years old. About 85 people belong to the club.
Over the years some members have dropped out due to aging, deteriorating health or moved house, so now the club is looking for new members and visitors.
“We’re thrilled that anyone wants to come and listen to some ballroom dance music,” Brock said.
East added, “We now have openings for new members. If anyone is interested, we’d love to have it. »
Brock said dinner dances are a chance to have a good time with friends, socialize and dance to great music.
Suzanne Handley and her husband, Richard, have been members for 17 years.
They started ballroom dancing as a hobby after her husband, who had a dance phobia, decided to take on his Goliath. They took lessons and now they not only attend dinner dances at the Venetian Ballroom Dancing Club, but they teach ballroom dancing at the recreation department of Green Acres Baptist Church.
Suzanne Handley pointed out that ballroom dancing is something couples can do together and research has proven to be good for dancers physically and socially and stimulates their brains as they always memorize new patterns of dance.
If anyone is interested in trying ballroom dancing, Brock said, the club can connect them with dance teachers and venues that offer group classes and private lessons.
“One of the best things I’ve ever chosen to do in my life was learn ballroom dancing. At 35, I had never danced a step. After two lessons, I was absolutely hooked. Brock said. “It transforms you. It increases your self-esteem. It makes you alive. It makes you thrive instead of just survive.”