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National Ballroom Dance Week History

History of National Ballroom Dance Week
"Give it a Whirl"
National Ballroom Dance Week was created in April of 1989 by Mary Helen McSweeney a member the Greater New York City Chapter of the United States Amateur Ballroom Dancers Association (USABDA, now known as USA Dance, Inc.). She envisioned a full week of ballroom dancing where the general public could learn about the benefits of ballroom dancing as a lifetime sport and a social event. Her Chapter brought together amateur dancers, city officials, professional instructors, and studio owners for a full week of dancing. Dance demos were performed in neighborhood dance venues, libraries, ferry boats, malls, studios, public and private businesses. The television stations, newspapers and radio stations heard of the activities and began to give the new program full coverage. A dream became reality.
By September of 1990, a group of publishers and editors of dance magazines and newspapers came together and decided to promote the dance week on a national scope. As the word spread, the amateur dancers, the professional dancers, the studios, and vendors of any and all dance supplies and costumes were asked to host anchor events at the start and conclusion of each week. Many creative Chapters were able to acquire proclamations from City, State, and Federal governments. Most of the studios offered free dance lessons all week and thousands of new dancers were created.
September of 1991 brought another change, an extension of the celebration time from seven days to ten days so that some localities could have two weekends to celebrate. Frances Lundy of Huntsville, Alabama and Doris Pease of Minnesota launched a campaign to secure a proclamation from every governor in the U.S. Diane Saia of Massachusetts had the largest media coverage in the nation, Sharon Wayne of Richmond, Virginia arranged for day long dance seminars for youngsters, an absolutely new dance concept. The seminars were filmed by a professional video company and the television stations aired the film in many cities during the news and public service segments of their programs. Pinky O' Neil's television show of "Dancing Around With Pinky O'Neil" in Reston, Virginia filmed amateur dancers who were social dancers, amateur dancers who were dance competitors, the local dance instructors, and professional competitors. The show was first aired in Reston, Virginia and then one of the talk radio shows started plugging it because so many of the dancers were local and were dancing at the studios each week. By the next week it was aired nationally through cable channels and then the networks picked it up. National Ballroom Dance Week was now in the national news.
The celebration continued to grow nationally. Over a million people attended the Eastern State Expo in Springfield, Illinois where it was dance, dance, dance, day and night. Another extravaganza was held at the World Trade Atrium in Minnesota. The hot spot to be in Maryland was Roberta Fries' ballroom named Hollywood Ballroom in Silver Spring, Maryland. She had a theme night for each night of the celebration and showed dance movies reflecting the theme of the evening… was standing room only every night. The dancers looked like they were dancing in the movies, as the movies were being projected into the crowds.
Now 20 years later the tradition is going strong.