Watch It Fly By As The Pendulum Swings

Someone I know happened to send over a link to a ballroom-related article. At first I was a bit reluctant to read it – the person sent it over for me to read because it was related to something that I do and it was kind of sad. Then I actually read it, and as it turns out… it actually was sad.

See, the article was talking about a ballroom community that lives in a city that was a few hours away from the city where I was born. This is a large well-known city that I have been to lots of times in my life, much of that during my crazy college years. Let me tell you, there is this amazing goth nightclub there that I used to love going to when I was in college because I thought it was crazy and funny. I don’t live anywhere close anymore, so I haven’t gone back in a long time, but I’m pretty sure that club is still in business… relatively in business, I suppose. Who knows what sort of state they are in at this time.

Anyway… there is apparently a large ballroom scene in that same city. I can’t say that anytime I have gone back home to visit my parents I have taken the time to drive over to that city to look for ballroom dancing opportunities, so I didn’t even know that was going on. The article I read says that this community has been particularly hard hit by the virus that is going around, and at the time the article was published, quite a few members of the community (estimates are between 3 and 6%) have died because of the virus.

Sad face.

Much like I said a few weeks ago, I think that this illness is going to change the face of ballroom dancing for a long time to come. The ballroom dancers I have seen while on my travels around this country are among those expected to be hardest hit by illnesses like this. Many, I might even hazard to say most of them, fall into those high-risk age groups. And ballroom dancing, as you know, is a full-contact activity, so the risk of transmission of an illness like this during the course of a dance is high. Unless science somehow manages to find a way to get rid of this virus (and any/all future mutations) completely, the world of ballroom dancing is going to have to radically change to keep all of those individuals safe.

Now, the article is quick to point out that they don’t know for sure whether all of the individuals who contracted the virus got it from any of the ballroom parties that occurred between the time that the virus was identified in the area and the time that the state had a stay-at-home order put in place shutting the parties down, but the members of the community have their suspicions. And that suspicion is potentially going to cause lingering issues. I can only imagine that if one of the parties is identified as the source for the illness in so many members of the community, that the organizers of that party are going to potentially face repercussions. It may just be that a large number of people avoid their parties in the future, but there is always the possibility that some family member takes the lawsuit route as well, as horrible as it is to even consider.

I’ve already heard reports that people are saying that even if the stay-at-home orders are lifted at the end of this month (like a number of states are scheduled to do), they still aren’t going to be comfortable returning to their old routines. So social dances may not see the masses return to participate even though the people are allowed to go once more. And even if the people do decide to attend parties, they may not switch partners as much as they used to. Couples that go together may decide to stick to dancing with only themselves rather than mixing partners. That’s a smart way to reduce the risk of catching something from the outside, but that would leave a lot of single ladies out of the fun.

I know from the time I spent in the past helping to organize dance parties that single ladies make up a large portion of the attendees for many social dances. If those ladies are left out of the fun and decide to stay home, many of these parties are not going to be able to make enough money to cover their expenses. While a lot of the dance clubs have some contingency funds set aside which could be used to cover shortfalls for a while, I don’t know how long they would be able to operate with negative revenues before they get into trouble.

And none of this even starts to consider the terrible implications of losing a large number of the people in the ballroom community! I can’t even imagine what it’s going to be like for that community of dancers only a few hours away from my hometown when they all finally get back together at some dance event (when they feel safe enough to do so, of course) and are able to take stock of all the missing faces in the crowd. That is really going to change the mood of that party – possibly several parties if such a large number of people are no longer around. It makes me wonder if I’ll go through the same thing. I have no idea if any of the dancers in my part of the country have been hit by this virus, since I’m not the type of person to hang out on social media at all. Unless someone goes out of their way to let me know about how a particular person is doing, I probably won’t find out if there is a tragedy until I go to a dance party myself and discover people missing.

That thought needs a moment to sink in…

Like I asked before a few weeks ago – how is this situation going to change the small world of ballroom dancing that we’ve built around here? Are dance parties going to become more couples-only or line dance driven? Will the dancers who are in the high-risk groups be forced to give up dancing even if the stay-at-home orders are lifted, until some sort of cure/vaccine can be distributed? What about dance competitions? At a lot of the competitions that I’ve been to, the heats that have had the most entrants are the ones in those upper age groups, the same age groups at highest risk right now. Those dancers tend to have the disposable income needed to take part in these events. Will they be able to come back and compete if we still have no cure/vaccine to keep them safe? Does that take competitions off the table until that time, since without those competitors coming and spending money the organizers won’t be able to cover the costs of putting on the competition?

I just… have a lot of questions.

And, of course, there is some worry built in there. The story that I read was from a dance community that wasn’t close to me, but it could have just as easily been describing the community that I take part in. The dancers in my area are in the same age ranges, and gather together for the same reasons as the author of the article talked about those dancers going out for (it’s a lifestyle, or for exercise, or therapy for those who are lonely, or a way to maintain social connections, etc.). What if this article had been about the dancers in my area? Or yours?

It’s kind of a terrible thought, huh.

Anyway… reading that made me think, and I just had to get those thoughts out. In some ways it’s better to put them out here rather than talking about them out loud. I don’t need to put the thoughts I have into the head of anyone else in my area of the Dance Kingdom.

I guess I’ll leave it at that. I hope you and all the other dancers in your part of the world are staying safe and managing to find ways to fill your time. We’ll get out of this at some point. Just hang in there until that time comes.

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