Friendly competition at Beginners Latin Ballroom Dance


A supportive crowd cheer on an exciting afternoon of beginners Latin Ballroom Dance

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Image by Lilly Turley

By Dhuha Usman

Whilst the Sunday of the Roses weekend was met with utter disappointment and a general malaise among the York crowd, the high spirits of the Latin Ballroom dancing certainly made up for it. From my many years of enjoying Strictly Come Dancing, this felt like the event for me and one which I very much enjoyed.

Although delayed by half an hour, a very full Vanbrugh dining hall welcomed an array of beginners couples to the Latin ballroom dancing floor. The cloudy weather looming over did not affect the turnout or the morale of the crowd, in fact, it was just the opposite. The whole morning had been spent dancing other styles by these couples so by the two o’clock start, it was understandable that the couples were tired. Despite this, a dazzling performance was put on by all who participated. The undeniably beautiful costumes and dresses were a talking point of the crowd and only supported the strong performances held by the couples.

The warm up saw a Latin-style game of musical chairs, getting the dancers ready as well as providing entertainment for the crowd. It was nice to see a collaborative, friendly game before the real competition began.

The first beginners event was the Cha Cha Cha. Following the same performance of the non-beginners and ex-students, the couples danced impressively with impeccable synchronisation and kept the audience in good spirits with an upbeat tune and choreography. The quick, small steps and hip swaying were sufficient enough to put big smiles on the dancers' faces and even bigger from supporters. With big cheers for York from the first dance, it was looking very promising for York.

Following the success of the Cha Cha Cha, beginners Samba was next. Dancing in four beat bars, the impression from the Cha Cha Cha lasted beyond question. The Samba saw a slower take to Latin ballroom dance compared to the opening numbers, all couples were moving with grace and ease. The roaring from the crowd was something other than what has been experienced in the more traditional sporting experiences over the weekend, there was an overwhelming feeling of pride and emotion from the parents and friends in the crowd.

The last of the beginners ballroom dancing was an excellent Jive. The quick nature of the choreography was matched to a nostalgic soundtrack of Olly Murs perked up the younger members of the crowd. Although there were a few what I can only assume were nervous stumbles, this did not take away from the high quality of the performances or the continuous crowd support. At this point, it was still looking good for York.

Following a little break for the dancers, the semi-finals and finals began. Six couples competed in the final Cha Cha Cha (couples 8, 14, 34, 32, 33). Once again, there was an impeccable and almost flawless (from my eyes at least) execution of the Cha Cha Cha.

Soon after, the Jive finalists took to the dance floor (couples 8, 14, 24, 34, 33, 34). They danced to the classic, “Reach for the Stars” and let’s just say that the six couples did just that; what looked like effortless dancing as the crowd sang along. You could see how pleased the dancers were to experience such support from both sides of the crowd, it was extremely respectful which made for such a lovely environment and an enjoyable watch throughout.

The penultimate final of the event was the beginners Samba. All couples remaining competed with lots of neatly done twists and turns.

It is fair to say that all couples put all their effort into each of their dances. Regardless of the beginners division, the quality of the performances were high and most definitely were on par with the non-beginners and ex-students.

Before the announcement of the final results, there was a fun game (not part of the competition) that entailed all the Latin ballroom dances, soundtracks and performers we had seen so far. There was even some participation from parents which was endearing to see, it really encapsulated what Roses is all about.

After a long dancing battle, the results were finally revealed. Lancaster’s couple 12 swept the beginners titles and medals, but York’s couples ruled the majority of the top six. Whilst this event may not have been worth the four points other sports were, it was a delightful event arraying a multitude of talent. It was just the pick up York needed, and an equally fantastic result for Lancaster.