Banning Same Sex Partners in Competitive Ballroom Dance

two women dancing

Bay Area champions Zoe Balfour & Citabria Phillips
strut their impressive stuff!

I’m not a fan of competitive dance, particularly Ballroom, but I have no objection to it’s existence. Many people love it and more power to them.  When I write about it, it’s because something in that world has captured my attention.


Same sex dancers still strike fear into some 

I’m having a hard time believing that, at a time when many sports are reversing long held homophobic beliefs and policies, the British Dance Council is considering a proposal to define dance couples as consisting of a “man” and a “lady”.  Maybe some of the women will then be disqualified on the grounds that they are too crass to be considered ladies.  I mean, just take a look at some of those costumes.  Would a lady wear that?

Country Western Dancers preceded Ballroom

I miss the Country Western dance scene which has all but disappeared from my neck of the woods, but I don’t miss the homophobia.  After a couple of gay men were so good that they started winning too many competitions, the powers that be did indeed pass a rule banning same sex partners from competing.  The flourishing gay competitive dance community, on the other hand, had no problem with opposite sex partnership.  Everyone was judged on dance skills.  Period.

Women banned from dancing lead

Homophobia was so rampant in the early days of Country dancing that women could not lead in the lessons.  At the now defunct but then thriving West 40, where I was studying advanced Country Western dancing in earnest, you had to find a partner with whom to take the lesson because there was no changing during the lesson.  There were always extra women who wanted to be in the lesson but couldn’t find a partner.  Even though I would be doing the service of providing an opportunity for 2 extra women to take (and pay for) the lesson, the teacher made it clear by a combination of ridicule and ignoring us, that women were not welcome to learn the lead in his class.


It saddens me now to see the same thinking mirrored in the ballroom community. A big hue and cry complete with petitions, of course, is occurring in response, so maybe they’ll have a change of heart in time.  The internet was a baby during the time of the Country Western policy change, so nobody knew about it until after the fact.  Stay tuned for the aftermath when the decision is made!


by LaurieAnn Lepoff

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94 Year Old Wins Dance Competions


94 year old Tao Porchon-Lynch

Tao Porchon-Lynch dances with abandon!

 Tao Porchon-Lynch is a 94 year old yoga teacher who started dancing in her eighties.  A perfect example of “It’s never too late to start”, Tao hit the ground running when she decided to take on ballroom dance.  It wasn’t long before she began winning competitions. 

     Unlike a lot of my favorite examples of active dancers in the final decades of life, Tao did not start young.  She actually chose it as a new activity in her eighties.  She was, of course, active all of her life and did not suddenly decide to use dance as a way to get fit in her old age.  I won’t say this isn’t possible, but she’s a good example of why it’s a good idea to find an activity you love and make it a part of your life. 

     Active people age better and an active lifestyle makes it easier to take on a new activity when you’re older to keep your mind and body from atrophying.  I recently read an article on the internet that included a questionnaire to determine your activity level.  The highest category was “highly active” and the definition was at least an hour of exercise a day. 

     Our bodies are designed to be active most of the time and it’s a commentary of our times that a person who spends 23 hours a day sitting or sleeping is considered highly active.  We have to fight cultural pressures to keep our bodies in motion and healthy.  The best exercise, I tell my students, is the one you’ll do.  If you want to have this much fun in your eighties, find something you love to do and do it often!

Meanwhile, enjoy this video of of Tao![embedplusvideo height=”507″ width=”640″ standard=”″ vars=”ytid=P2MoztPyvgY&width=640&height=507&start=&stop=&rs=w&hd=0&autoplay=0&react=1&chapters=&notes=” id=”ep4339″ /]

By LaurieAnn Lepoff