Despite the November chill, the Main Street Gallery held an inviting warmth when I opened the door to my first BOOMbal Dancehall. It was 6 o’clock, and I was one of the first in. There was light swing music playing in the background when Evon greeted me. Evon Zerbetz, the instructor of BOOMbal Dancehall, says attendance ranges anywhere from eight to thirty people, and that night, 16 people came to dance. As they filtered in, laughter and smiles became commonplace as anticipation for dancing grew.
While I’m not one to dance publicly (though at home by myself, that’s a different story), I can appreciate the work it takes to learn new steps and loosening up.
To loosen up, everyone paired up and took turns mirroring one another to music. This requires one person to move while the other tries to mimic them. Who leads? Who follows? It’s hard to tell. The music was drowned out by uproarious laughter as the dancing became more and more outrageous. It was definitely a good way to get everyone in the right mindset to dance.
The lessons started out simply with learning how to rock step; that’s a staple to be fluent in swing dancing. Dancers worked on their ‘rock step’ and ‘travel step’ by themselves and soon learned how to lead. Here’s an important tip: whoever leads uses their hands to tell their partner when to start with a subtle grip and direction.
When everyone got that part down, a new element was added: rotating around the room every few minutes to switch up partners. By doing this, everyone was able to meet someone new and laugh over dancing mishaps.
Evon explained that BOOMbal Dancehall instills a sense of community and togetherness, and this was definitely demonstrated as inhibitions fell away and even the stiffest dancers got into the groove.
As everyone became more comfortable with the steps and each other, the dancing incorporated spins while still rotating dance partners every few minutes. Evon built each step within swing dancing upon another for the class to end with people dancing however they pleased with what was learned. It was the perfect way for people to learn to dance while meeting one another.
Drop-in lessons are $7 a person. What’s exciting is entry fees will be saved to hire a tango instructor during the summer. All the more reason to come to the next BOOMbal Dancehall on January 6th at Main Street Gallery!
- K-Town's Roving Art Observer