During this pandemic, we lament the loss of ballroom dancing. Square dancing was very popular in the 1970s while I was stationed at Minot AFB, ND. In between the squares, the caller would “cue” round dances. Round dancing is choreographed ballroom dancing to a particular popular song and covers all the standard rhythms like waltz, foxtrot, bolero, cha-cha, tango, etc. Combined dancing was on Friday nights and classes for round dancing only were held on Wednesday nights. A beginner’s class had just started. My wife Sally had been working in the ceramics shop in the basement of the rec center and stopped in when she heard the music. She had gone to USO dances at Chanute AFB in Illinois for several years before she joined the USAF. We began dating with a shared love of dancing and the rest is history as we will be celebrating our 45th anniversary next month. One of our favorite round dances is “Adios, Au Revoir, Auf Wiedersehen,” the signature sign-off tune for the Lawrence Welk Show.
When we moved to Columbus in 1978 for me to attend graduate school, we danced for about a year with the round dance club which met at the Rockwell Center on the east side of town. For those of you who may remember, Rockwell was building the fuselage for the B-1 bomber for about a decade and they had a recreation center on site. We stopped dancing for quite a few years due to my studies, getting a job, and Sally going back to school at the Columbus College of Art and Design (CCAD). Shortly after she graduated, we started a family so our youngest was in middle school before we got back into dancing regularly. It was at that time that we began to get back to dancing.
Ron Clark of DancePlus Ballroom has been conducting a “social dancing” class for many schools in the Columbus area for decades. When it was held for the Dublin middle schoolers, our daughter Angela was interested in going so I volunteered to set up and coordinate the week at her school. The class for the entire district was hosted at each middle school for a total of five weeks, and then a ball was held at the Dublin Country Club. It was amazing how Ron could almost single-handedly keep 200 kids that age engaged!
While our kids were in high school and we felt like we could get away for a few hours in the evening, we started going to the Buckeye Bop dances doing East Coast swing. Ron Clark was a guest instructor one night and we preferred his way of teaching. He taught how to lead by giving physical cues to your partner in advance of what the next move would be. With round dancing, I didn’t need to know how to lead because it was cued so your partner also knew the next step. The “set up” was very helpful to both of us because normal ballroom dancing requires the man (or woman as the case may be) to lead. We started by attending weekly group classes with Ron at DancePlus Ballroom in Grandview. The classes were very affordable and we progressed through the beginning, intermediate and advanced lessons. We would also attend a “couples” dance party about once a month. We have been back to dancing for about 20 years now.
Ballroom dances have ceased during this pandemic, but we look forward to eventually enjoying one of our favorite past-times again.
Here is the link for the Lawrence Welk sign-off: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zKyWiXTAToE&authuser=0
If you’re interested in seeing what the round dance looks like, Google “Continental Goodnight” which was the name of the cue sheet written for the song.
The CMC Connector began soon after the start of COVID-19 stay-at-home orders in Ohio and will continue throughout the summer based on available content, coordinated through the Columbus Mennonite Church office. Contributors are associated with the church. For more information and to sign up, go HERE. Look for articles Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday with the pastors’ blog on Wednesday. All articles are posted on the website columbusmennonite.org/blog.
Columbus Mennonite Church
KCMCS Program Coordinator