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Melbourne Ballroom Introduces Footwork and Fun to Aspiring Dancers

By Pamela Sosnowski

Most people are aware that dancing is a fun way to burn calories but at the Melbourne Ballroom, the owners and instructors know that the benefits of the activity go way beyond helping to maintain one's weight.

"There are so many benefits to dancing," says Barry Johnson, Melbourne Ballroom's owner. "Better physical and mental health, getting exercise, weight loss, (and) cognitive thinking have all been proven to be benefits of ballroom dancing. Then there is the social aspect, sense of accomplishment, and meeting new people. Many people have gained lifelong friends in the dancing community."

Melbourne Ballroom has expanded in recent years to two ballrooms, one of which is 3,000 square feet ? and offers both private and group lessons in American and international styles of dance including waltz, foxtrot, quickstep, cha cha, rumba, swing, tango, and more. A children's program includes tap, jazz, ballet, contemporary, and ballroom for aspiring young dancers.

Melbourne's instructors are all accomplished dancers themselves, many with awards on their resumes, and all teach techniques in a welcoming, patient style to make newcomers feel comfortable. "Our teachers are expertly trained, and we offer a fun and exciting environment in which to learn," says Johnson.

The two most popular sessions are Tuesday night's beginning class, and the Friday night group class. The Friday night parties that take place from 7 to 10 PM are particularly popular, and provide a stress-free introduction to a variety of dances as well as the chance to socialize.

"We generally have between 40 and 70 dancers in here depending on the time of year," explains Johnson. "They start off with a group class at 7:00. It is a different dance and a different teacher every week. All levels are invited to come. We have people coming for their very first time as well as people that have been dancing for years. It's a great way to get to meet new people and learn a few new steps before the actual party."

Once a month the Friday dance party takes on a theme, with attendees from previous events dressing up as characters from Harry Potter and Star Trek. Johnson, his wife, and mother provide a gourmet buffet dinner during these special evenings. "The nicest descriptions we've heard is that, 'It is like a gourmet dinner in someone's home' and 'It really feels like a night out on the town,'" says Johnson.

A bonus for soon-to-be married couples taking dance lessons is that the ballroom doubles as a wedding venue. The facility's 3,000-square-foot room comfortably holds up to 230 people; the smaller, 750-square-foot room will accommodate 20 to 40 people and both feature adjustable lighting. Melbourne Ballroom's staff can even provide tables, cloths, chairs, and service ware for up to 50 people as well as a professional DJ.

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