Is there anything classier than a CC house party? Believe it or not, the answer is yes.
Juniors Penni Bickley, Chelsea Brown, and Janine Armstead chair the Blues and Ballroom Fusion Club, which meets from 7 to 9 p.m. every Saturday in the basement of Cossitt. The club chairpersons teach participants how to blues dance every weekend, except a weekend or two each block when John Riker, professor of Philosophy, and Marcia Dobson, a professor of Classics, give cameo instruction on Ballroom dancing.
Riker and Dobson exemplify the fairytale of dance partners turned lovers.
“Nothing has kept our marriage more romantically alive than ballroom dancing. Whenever we dance, we just fall in love again,” Riker said.
The two initially taught a course together on Greek History and Philosophy, during which they experimented with Greek dancing, polkas and waltzes. A few years later, Riker and Dobson married. However, the couple did not forget their roots and have always kept the element of dance in their relationship.
“Fairly early in our marriage, we decided we would like to add ballroom dancing to our relationship, so we took some lessons and started on our way,” Riker said.
Thirty years later, the two are still dancing up a storm all over Colorado Springs. However, there is no pressure to fall in love when partner-dancing in Cossitt.
“I think that something people can learn from blues and ballroom, or partner dancing in general, is how to interact with the opposite sex without having sex,” Bickley said, as she and Brown laughed at the question of needing to bring a romantic interest.
The club works to diffuse stereotypes about partnered dancing, like the idea of romantically involved partners. The club also steers away from enforcing the gender roles in which the man leads and the female follows.
“You can choose whatever role you want; that’s why we tend to say follow leads, as opposed to assigning male and female roles,” Brown said.
Dobson also encouraged a reading against the stereotypical concept that partnered dancing can be patriarchal.
“When you really get into ballroom dancing, you find that the woman has every bit as much leading to do as the man does and ultimately, it’s really a joint enterprise,” she said. “The former governor of Texas said that in dancing women have to do everything that men do, but they have to do it in high heels and backwards.”
Regardless of which role you choose to fill, partner dancing is a fun way to kick off a Saturday night at CC. If you feel ready for a change and a challenge, just try it out.
“I just have to say, coming and teaching ballroom for an hour, kids have so much fun,” Dobson said. “They don’t even realize until they start doing it.”
Ming Lee Newcomb