You can dance

But in the United States at least, more people may be dancing than ever before, thanks to hit television shows like “Dancing with the Stars” and “So You Think You Can Dance,” plus Broadway-style shows like “Burn the Floor,” which came through Oklahoma City earlier this year.

“I think it’s had a tremendous impact,” said Gene Fowler, first vice president of the Ballroom Dancing Club of Oklahoma City.

Although it’s easy to spend lots of money learning to dance that sexy salsa, swing, foxtrot or waltz, it’s also possible to learn to dance without blowing your budget.

Fowler has done it both ways, taking private lessons at nearly every dance studio in town and the less expensive route of joining the 12-year-old Ballroom Dance Club for an annual membership fee. The club has group lessons, ranging from beginning to advanced-intermediate students, and hosts dances with live bands on Fridays twice monthly.

“If a person really does a year or so with us, then they can take private lessons and go farther,” Fowler said.

The last big-band party the club hosted drew about 160 people, with a median age of about 40, he said.

But it’s not all traditional ballroom. The popular dance shows have brought in younger people to the club and other metro dance studios.

Mercedes Rubio of Dance Makers studio said the Latin dances — like the tango, salsa and merengue — are enjoying a huge popularity.

Now 22, Dance Makers focuses primarily on private lessons for adult beginners, said Rubio, who is enrollment and guest director. Beginners start on the six major dances: foxtrot, waltz, tango, cha-cha, rumba and swing. Students then can sign up for a package of lessons.

Rubio said there are many benefits of dancing, from stress relief to a fun way to get exercise.

“It’s a great low-impact kind of exercise,” she said.

Many “Dancing with the Stars” fans notice weight loss on the celebrities on the show. Rock princess Kelly Osbourne, one of the youngest competitors, peeled off several pounds.

“She was a great example of someone who benefited from dance,” Rubio said. “And she matured as a young lady.”

Rubio credited such programs for a resurgence in interest in dance among young people.

“The great thing, especially for couples, you can go anywhere and dance,” she said. “And it’s a safe environment.”

Dance Makers offers special wedding packages for couples who want to have moves choreographed for their first dance at their wedding reception.

Elsewhere, independent dance instructors Shelby and Dadbeh Jafari of Competitive Edge Dance teach private lessons at Macias’ Dance Center, including all kinds of partner dancing.

“I feel like dancing is mind, body and soul. We are getting benefits there,” Shelby Jafari said.

Carol Cole-Frowe

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