Waltz. Tango. Swing. Foxtrot. Cha Cha. Merengue. If you wanted to learn any of these dances, you’d probably think of Roland’s Dance Studio on Hope Mills Road. But what about once you learned them? Where would you go to practice, show off your fancy steps and simply enjoy dancing in a social setting?
That’s a question 12 Fayettevillian friends who were taking dance lessons first asked themselves 25 years ago. They went to work organizing a social ballroom club and held their first dance March 21, 1993, in the ballroom of the Prince Charles Hotel
downtown. Over the years, the club, now known as Cape Fear Ballroom Dancers, danced all over town, eventually choosing Roland’s as the site for its regular monthly dances. A few weeks from now, on Saturday, Sept. 15, CFBD will celebrate its 25th anniversary with a special dinner and dance at Highland Country Club.
Aside from dancing, there will be live music by Wilmington’s Duke Ladd Orchestra, toasts to honor the club’s founders, a delicious meal and reading material with interesting facts about the club’s history.
Club president Drew Ziegler, a retired lieutenant colonel whose first and last duty station was Fort Bragg, has been involved with CFBD since the late 1990s. He served on the board and as treasurer before becoming president in 2010. He and his wife, Kalli, first started taking dance lessons after he retired, something he said they’d always wanted to do.
He encourages novice dancers and newcomers to join in for the festivity, saying involvement in CFBD, and especially the anniversary dance, provides the opportunity for an evening out that’s not easy to come by.
“The opportunity for this kind of live entertainment ... to have a Glenn Miller-type orchestra, that’s rare and special. You get to do some dancing. And even if you’ve never danced before, nobody’s gonna know. You can just give it your best shot, and everybody will pat you on the back.”
He added that the club’s more experienced members, including those who are dance instructors, are good at partnering with those who are still learningor new to the scene.
“It provides a safe, fun, elegant date night. ... In today’s fast-paced (world), it’s almost a lost experience,” Ziegler said.
Although the yearly anniversary celebration is the biggest and grandest event of the year, CFBD does hold quarterly dinner-and-dance formal events at Highland Country Club in addition to its monthly social dances at Roland’s. CFBD has always had a close relationship with Roland’s, Ziegler said, adding that Roland Sr. himself is a CFBD member.
At the monthly dances, which are themed and usually take place the third Saturday of the month from 7-10 p.m., professional instructors give a brief lesson on the style of dance for that night. The lesson is meant to be a refresher and complement to formal lessons taken elsewhere, but all levels of experience are welcome. There are also free refreshments and a cash bar. These dances are $15 for the public and $10 for members.
CFBD members also participate in many community service events, doing demonstrations at venues such as Sunday on the Square, the Dogwood Festival and the Cumberland County Fair. They also join with organizations like The Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County, Cape Fear Regional Theatre, retirement homes and local schools.
Former Fayetteville Mayor J.L. Dawkins recognized the contributions of CFBD to the city and ballroom dancing in general by proclaiming Sept. 18-24, 1994, as Ballroom Dance Week. A quarter-century later, that legacy lives on and continues to grow.
Advance registration for the CFBD 25th Anniversary Dinner-Dance is required and must be completed by Sept. 8. Registration costs $50 for members or $60 for guests and can be completed at ww.capefearballroomdancers.org. Attire is semi-formal or formal; tuxedos are preferred for gentlemen. For more information, call Ziegler at 910-987-4420.
A brief history of some ballroom dances
Straight from the royal courts of Vienna, Austria, in the 17th century, the waltz is an upgrade of sorts to the turning dances of peasants in Austria and Bavaria. Instead of dancing with arms intertwined, the waltz includes a close hold. At the time, it was scandalous. With its morally questionable close hold and easy-to learn-steps, many opposed the waltz – especially religious leaders and dancing masters. By 1900, though, most dance programs were 3/4 waltzes and 1/4 all the other dances.
Buenos Aires in Argentina and Montevideo in Uruguay gave birth to the Tango in the late 1800s. A favorite dance of the European immigrants, former slaves, working and lower classes of people, the Tango began as a movement with its own slang, music, dance and mindset. From the brothels and cheap cafes, this dance of the misfits and downtrodden has become a well-respected ballroom dance.
Swing dance emerged when Big Bands took over pop culture in the 1920s and ’30s. During its heyday, there were hundreds of swing dance styles. Still a versatile dance, swing includes Lindy Hop, Balboa, Collegiate Shag, and the Charleston.
Flowing and graceful, the Foxtrot’s origin is murky. Some credit African-Americans with its creation. Some say its original name was the
Bunny Hug. Either way, once it was introduced by vaudeville performer Harry Fox in 1914, the Foxtrot enjoyed unparalleled popularity in dance halls through the 1940s.
What do you get when you cross the mambo and the danzon? The Cha Cha! Violinist Enrique Jorrin is credited with the music that brought forth the syn-copated rhythms that led to the Cha Cha in dance halls of Havana, Cuba, in the 1950s. The dance has a heavy African influence as well. It hit American shores in 1954, and by 1959 was considered the most popular dance in the U.S.