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Ballroom Dancing Strikes Right Note with New Generation

All across America a dance craze is in full swing. But this time, it is not some passing fad. In past years, dances such as the 'twist,' the 'hustle,' the 'frug,' and the 'Watusi' have come and gone. But today's trend looks like it is here to stay. Because, as VOA's George Dwyer reports, this time it is strictly ballroom.

A scene from the 1936 film “Swingtime” shows how ballroom dancing is practiced by professionals -- in this case Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. But everyone has to start somewhere...

"Right-two-three, left-two-three, ladies-right-two-three, ladies-left-two-three," calls out a dance instructor.

It might sound like arithmetic, but these people are learning ballroom dancing. Each one has his or her own reason.

"Well, I couldn't dance,” said one male student, “and I was like, 'Wow, I wish I knew how to dance.' So I just said, 'Well, there's only one way to learn -- go out and do it. Go out and take a class.' So I did. And I got hooked."

Humans have been dancing almost as long as they have been walking. In fact, some people call dance "walking to music." Ballroom dancing will never go out of style, says dance instructor Chris Thompson. "The interest in dancing never really went away. It's always been there. It went underground for a little while, but people really always have been interested."

This dance studio, called the Dance Factory, located near Washington, D.C., is owned and operated by Dennis Schroeder.

"We feel that this is just really good clean fun and it's the kind of thing that you can whistle a tune to and it's what Grandma and Grandpa used to do, maybe even Mom and Dad," said Dennis.

"People come in for different reasons, everyone has a different reason,” added Chris.” And I think some people come in just to get ready for a wedding, to get ready for one social event. But some of those people the bug really bites them and they really develop a life-long interest that goes on for many years."

Far from being just another passing fad, ballroom dancing looks like it is here to stay.

“Swingtime” courtesy Warner Home Video