COVID-19 changed the dancing scene drastically in 2020; dancing came to a screeching halt. But that did not stop USA Dance Chapter #6010. During the year of 2020, Chapter #6010 was planning something BIG; something no one had done before in Tallahassee, Florida.
Tallahassee Chapter Board of Directors - Terry Hague (Vice-President), Carla Hutchinson (Outreach Coordinator), Rebecca Kelley-Fournier (Treasurer & Membership Coordinator), Michael Webb (Music & Publicity), Lolita Brawner (President & District 9 Director), Janet Martin (Social Media/Webmaster), and Angela Baratta (Secretary)
When restrictions lifted, and with the generous grants provided by the Council on Culture and Arts, the City of Tallahassee, and Visit Tallahassee, our chapter was able to host a one-of-a-kind event in June of 2021. It was a three-day dance symposium held at the Days Inn and Conference Center in Tallahassee; the theme was Maiden Voyage.
Maiden Voyage’s kick-off began Friday night, June 18. At registration, dancers received their weekend “passport”, which included a champagne toast, boxed dinner, and evening social. Then it was on to the dance floor, which was HOT, HOT, HOT, because…the air conditioning went out!
But Chapter #6010 Vice-President Terry Hague and our “Galley Management Crew” came to the rescue and kept us stocked with plenty of bottled water. Coolers full of ice were also placed in front of big floor fans to cool things down. Dancers were not going to let something like no air conditioning keep them from dancing. They danced the night away, including snowball mixers and a Jack & Jill contest, won by Angel Baratta and Michael Wallace.
Brian Carter-Gonzalez & Pam Harrell braving the heat!
The next day, Saturday, June 19, was important for USA Dance #6010, and for USA Dance in general, as Tallahassee’s, Mayor John Dailey, proclaimed the third Saturday in June to be “USA Dance Day”. Everyone met in the main ballroom for the Keynote Speaker, USA Dance National President Ken Richards, who spoke about “Navigating the Future.” He was followed by the Spotlight Speaker, Bridge Dance Project’s Dr. Darcee Schmidt, who spoke about the elements of dance and our bodies.
USA Dance President Ken Richards delivering Keynote Address
After the presentations, Maiden Voyage’s “Main Excursions” started, with something for everyone. We held three classes: Instructors Joe Mounts and Deidra Williams (Daytona, Florida), along with instructor Christian Grace (Houston, Texas), taught classes ranging from International Cha Cha to Zouk.
While some were taking classes, Chapter #6010’s Lolita Brawner and Michael Webb, started our Mini Match, and really turned up the heat on the dance floor: Husband-and-wife team Robert and Monica Wiech won 1st place, Lolita Brawner and Michael Webb took 2nd place, Best Lead went to Michael Webb, and Best Follow went to Rebecca Kelley-Fournier.
Rebecca Kelley-Fournier, Michael Webb, Lolita Brawner, Ken Richards, Monica and Bobby Weich (Greater Daytona Chapter)
Maiden Voyage’s Saturday evening social featured a catered dinner, good glass of wine – compliments of Janet Martin – and music by the 18-piece Tallahassee Swing Band. Donations brought in $115 to help with the chapter’s Kidz program/scholarship funding.
The band was HOT HOT HOT! Not to mention, still no air conditioning. Although, it was cooler, as the hotel purchased three more floor fans for the dancers.
Greg Marcum (Greater Daytona Chapter President) and his wife Tammy enjoy the live band.
Despite the heat, the mood and ambience were elegant and refined. It reminded, local dancer Jane White, of her Senior Prom. She graciously shared her story, as well as her original 1950’s Senior Prom Dancing Ball Gown with mink stoll, kid-leather button gloves, and rhinestone vintage earrings.
Sunday, we held our “Disembarkation Party”, which ended our successful event! Special acknowledgements go out to the #6010 board members; the Florida Sunshine Dance and Symposium would not have happened without them. Thank you to our speakers, instructors, and the many vendors, including Vince Smith Photography who snapped over 3000 photos. A great big thank you to USA Dance National President Ken Richards and local instructor Sydney Medina for judging our Mini Match. And, of course, thank you to our dancers and friends from Tallahassee, Shell Point, Quincy, St. Petersburg, Pensacola, Daytona, and Crestview, Florida; Valdosta, Georgia; Enterprise, Eufaula, and Dothan, Alabama; Wilmington Delaware; Houston Texas; and finally, Ohio.
See you all next year in Tallahassee, the HOT HOT HOT spot for ballroom dancing!
Embracing the New “Normal!”
Taking a Second Look
BY LOLITA BRAWNER (District 9 Director)
Are your chapters facing unfamiliar situations? Are you replacing old with new fresh habits? Is it a struggle to embrace optimism and spontaneity? Are you finding it difficult to replace the way we always conducted social dances into something new?
Familiar locations; friends; and routines prior to COVID may not exist anymore. Engaging in unfamiliar situations can cause stress and is out of our comfort zone.
The thought of doing something completely new and out of your comfort zone is enough to scare you to death but there is no better time to act then RIGHT NOW; yes, use COVID as an excuse to adopt new fresh changes.
RIGHT NOW is time to embrace the new…we can adapt to this ever-changing environment; we do not have to be stuck in our old ways. Our world is changing at a fast pace and we need to keep up in order to achieve our goals. New problems require new solutions. Exciting opportunities are available for those who are not afraid to take risks.
No doubt this past year has been more than challenging. However, as we start getting back to “normal” and start dancing again your chapter may be reevaluating the “old normal,” and finding that it is anything but “normal”. Perhaps our “normal” does not exist anymore, so don’t be afraid to create a new “normal.”
Many chapter demographics and dwindling memberships are causing for chapters to look for answers to the OLD “normal” way. Of course old “normal” is comfortable, easy and familiar. I challenge you and your chapter to create some NEW “normals”.
- Consider generating bigger social dance turnouts by consolidating chapters, branches or splits within 20-25 miles.
- Consider collaborative board meetings by Zoom.
- Consider a special event for chapters within 100 miles.
- Consider raising your admission dues. (Yes, this might sound counter productive, but what it does is it creates the mindset of this is an elite function, and you will want to become a member.)
- Consider your local benefits – weekly lessons, charity drive, size of dance floor, multiple independent instructors. Sell on your local benefits for membership!
There are many NEW “normals” that can be achieved if we just come together to share our challenges and new creative ways to continue to social dance and keep USA Dance alive in your area. I came across these guidelines and wanted to share them with you.
Link to Chapter Satellite Guidelines https://cdn.ymaws.com/usadance.org/resource/resmgr/chapters/documents/chapter_goals_purpose/starting_a_chapter/satellite_dance_locations.pdf
Rebecca Kelley-Fournier is the Treasurer and Membership Coordinator of the Tallahassee Chapter. American Dancer thanks her very much for her contribution.
Lolita Brawner is the President of the Tallahassee Chapter and is also the District 9 Director.