Boys' Ballroom Dancing Costumes


Figure 1.--Most boys first experienced balloom dancing when their mothers sign them up for dancing lessons. Most don't like the experience, but some boys develop a passion for ballroom dancing.

Ball room dancing in a form of social dance which developed in western European. The standard dances include classic the fox-trot, waltz, polka, and tango. Other dances include fad dances like Charleston, jitterbug, hustle, frug, disco, shake and other constantly evloving new ones. Boys used to learn formal dances at dancing school, initually with some reluctance. Boys always dessed up in teir best suts for dancing lessons, as they once did for dances. Gradually by the 1960s ot became increaingly less important to dress up for dances as the classic dances became increasingly less popular. Some boys, however persued ballroom dancing with considrable reluctance--and it was the classic dances that remain te centerpiece of traditional ballroom dancing.

Dancing Lessons

Boys growing up in the most of the 20th Century will recall the agonies of dancing lessons. Dressing up in your best suit or blue blazer and being catrted off rather unwillingly to pair up with a like number of girls to learn the intricacies of the box step. This was the introduction to ballroom dancing that many boys experienced. I don't think they do this nearly as much today as dancing is so different now. Some boys did not find the experience nearly as excruciating and were actually enchanted with ball room dancing. There has in fact been a revival of ballroom dancing and major competitions always include a junior section.

Social Dancing

The importance of ballroom damcing is that for years it was the principal form of social dancing. The basic four-step is the key to socil dancing. The most famous was the waltz. But several other dances like the fox-trot, tango and many others were very important. Learning these dances were an importnat part of any boy's ecucation be because dances were such an imprtant part of social interaction. Dances were organized by communities, churches, social clubs, and other social and civic organizations. Boys and girls would wear their best outfits for these groups. Children at different ages would participate depending on the type of dance and who was organizing it. There were also substantial differences among countries. These dances and the clothes worn have changed substantially over tume.

The Dances

Dance has played a major role in social interaction within the past 500 years of western civilization--the same era covered by HBC. Some of te dances are no longer familiar to modern readers. Some of the earlist dances are the the 15th and 16th Century Italian Renaissance dances: the Pavan, Saltarello, and Galliard. More familiar are the 17th and 18th Century Baroque French Court dances: the Minuet, Allemand and Gigue. The important 19th Century English and American society dances were the Waltz, Polka, and Quadrilles. The 20th Century dances in America included the Fox Trot, Tango, Charleston, Swing, Twist, and many others.

The Image

The image ballroom dancers have is something like being on the horizon of a huge bubble ready to explode into graceful artistic elegant Ballroom dancing. Some dancers stress smoothness. None other than from a flock of about 2 hundred little sparrows following their leader. They moved so smoothly in formation you would honestly think they were maneuvering to the rhythm of music. They could move so fast and elegant then slow down then stop, then start again. We watched the little fish in the ocean, how quickly they moved and do such an elegant change of direction. We sat by the Pacific Ocean in Hawaii and watched the little ripples on the ocean became larger and larger, then disappeared only to reappear in a much larger breaker. Their rhythm and nature of elegance made us think of smoothness in dancing, in a rise and fall movement. We also watched a small boy with a kite way up in the sky moving so softly and gently and all of a sudden, a brisk wind would catch unto it, but tossed it gently and smoothly at all times. All of those are real smooth movements of nature at its best which we captured in the air and in the sea.

Development

Competitive ballroom dancing began in the 1930s. From the beginning it was primarily a European activity. Interestingly it was Germany and England that played a key roles in the development of competitive dance. I'm not sure when junior competions began. Ballroom dancing has varied in popularity, but three has been greatly expanded interest in recent years.

Competitive events on the dance floors of European countries occured in the years before World War I. Big events were held in cities like Paris, Berlin, and Baden-Baden. Like competions as late as the early 1930s, however, these early competitions were more of private nature, because no international organisations existed at that time for either professional or amateur dancers.


Figure 2.--This boy and girl won a trophey at a ballroom dance competition. The boys competing usually wear tuxedos.

This began to change in the 1930s. Ballroom dancing competions began in 1930, at least those sponsored by the world association. It was from 1930 onwards, when the "English Style" dance started to take hold of the Continent, International matches occurred more frequently, since now they already was a generally valid standard and style of competition dancing. As early 1932, the German Amateur Association (RPG)--Reichsverband zur Pflege des Gesellschaftstanzes/German Imperial Association for the Promotion of Social Dancing - as it was called at that time, urged the English to found an International Amateur Organisation. Unfortunately their endeavors proved to be unsuccessful and it took another 3 years before, on December 10, 1935 that the first International Amateur Association was finally founded in Prague under the name Federation Internationale de Dance pour Amateurs/International Amateur Dancers Federation (FIDA). Founder members were the national associations of Austria, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Holland, Switzerland and Yugoslavia. It was not before long that the associations of the Baltic States, as well as Belgium, Canada, Italy and Norway followed. The Austrian Franz Buechler of Graz was elected as the first president of the new Federation.

Straight away FIDA became very active and in close co-operation with the German Association RPG it was possible--just prior to the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin to hold the first official World Championship at Bad Nauheim/Germany. The event was organised according to international rules and attended by participants from 15 countries of three continents. Subsequently all international competitions were now granted and controlled by FIDA until outbreak of World War II in 1939. With this tragedy immediately all international activities came to an end.

It was only 5 years after the end of this horrible war that European dancers made another attempt to organize. It proved very difficult, however, to revive one umbrella organization.
ICBD: In England the professional were more successful. On September 21st, 1950, the international Council of Ballroom Dancing (ICBD) was founded in Edinburgh/Scotland at the instigation of Philip Richardson and became the first international professional dance organisation. Initially it consisted of nine European and three overseas members. FIDA: A group of European dancers meeting in Austria tried to revive FIDA, but with little success. In July 1953, once again in Velden/Austria, FIDA was recognised. The representatives coming from Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Italy and Yugoslavia. The Austrian Franz Buechler was again elected as president. Three more countries joint FIDA some time later: Finland in 1953, Switzerland in 1954 and The Netherlands in 1955. The hope of the Amateurs to achieve a close co-operation with the ICBD by a General Agreement failed, Because the interests of the two parties involved were to diverse. It was in Kiel/Germany, where four years later, on January 24th, 1960, a final attempt to again revive FIDA - but in vain. It still took four more years till the end of 1964 for FIDA to finally cease its activities completely.
DAT: Due to differences between professionals and amateurs in Switzerland, Austria and Germany - here the professional association ADTV supported its own amateur competition organisation DAT, and also due to discord within the actual FIDA area, in January 1956 - on the occasion of a convention in Munich, a resolution was passed, to suspend the activities of the FIDA until further notice. The time had not yet come!

As a fact, just following the Munich decision in 1956, the amateurs no longer had any functioning international authoritative body. Even so, the movement of steadily increased in popularity. A strong circle of amateurs could not stand this situation. At the instigation of the multifold German Champion Otto Teipel of Wiesbaden, the international Council of Amateur Dancers ICAD was founded in 1957 at his home Wiesbaden.

This Amateur organisation was founded with the approval of the ICBD which had yielded to pressure from the British amateurs and had affiliated an amateur section to its Official Board. now the way was clear for England as well: they joined the ICAD. Further founder members were the national associations of Austria, Denmark, Germany, Italy and Switzerland and the two associations each fro France and The Netherlands. By July 7th, 1058, the associations from Belgium, Norway, Sweden and Yugoslavia had also joined. Thus by the 1958 the ICAD comprised of 14 national associations from 12 countries as its members.

The difficulties which finally led to the collapse of FIDA also complicated the activitis of ICAD. The future direction of ICAD was decided and a chapter opened in 1965. Detlef Hegemann was the newly elected President. The hopes for a relaxation of the International tension gain feasibility with the election of Detlef Hegemann of Bremen as President of ICAD. Hegemann, then President of the German Dancesport association DTV, had several times been German and European Champion with his partner and wife Ursula and their numerous appearance on the competition floors in many other countries had since the start of the Fiftieth kept him in touch with the existing problems. His personality, his objectivity in the face of every commitment and his total fairness under all circumstances were appreciated throughout Europe by professionals and Amateurs alike.

A new generatiionn of organizers addressed the problems between the ICAD (later the IDSF) and the ICBD concerning the foundation of a Joint Committee with equal representation of amateurs and professionals, so that it might constitute a top-level instrument in the settlement of continual and constantly escalating tension between professional and amateurs. The need for such an arrangement was recognised and on October 3rd, 1965 the Bremen Agreement' which made history in competition dancing was signed in Bremen and the Joint Committee was established. Initially it comprised of three and later of four members each from the ICBD and ICAD. Disagrrements between these groups were increasingly resolved amicalby.

The constant consolidation of the ICAD and the actual smoothing out of tension between the two camps have had the effect of promoting international amateur competitive dancing as a whole and its improvement. With the existence of a functionally efficient international Federation, the conditions essential to acknowledgment of an incorporation of competitive dancing into the national Sports Organisations were also satisfied many national areas.

In the time to come after 1981 ICAD continuously developed while further amateur associations joined as members. In 1990, on November 11th, when the activities in direction of acknowledgment of Dance Sport by the International Olympic Committee IOC were intensified, it was time to change the name of the association and thus documentate immediately within the name of the representing body, that Competitive Dancing is a Sport. ICAD was changed to IDSF, The International Dance Sport Federation. A World Body had been established.

During the years of 1991/1992 following the historical changes in Eastern Europe, a considerable increase of the number of members took lace, reflecting growing interest in ballroom dancing. Interest was no longer limited primarily to Europe. Interst appeared in Asia woke and the Amateur Associations of this continent joint ICAD as well as Members. The endeavors of the IDSF Presidium to achieve the IOC recognition were deepened. In the report A long way to success, the Story of IOC Recognition for IDSF and Dance Sport" by IDSF Press Commissioner Werner J. Braun, this thorny way was described in details. In this respect two personalities of the IDSF Presidium need to be mentioned, who gained extraordinary merits for Dancesport: The Swiss IDSF Treasurer Rudolf Baumann and the Berlin/Munich IDSF General Secretary Rudi Hubert who together with Detlef Hegemann carried most of the burden. Their endeavors finally lead to the sentence formulated by the President of the International Olympic Committee, Juan Antonio Samarach, in the historical letter of April 6th, 1995, to the address of Detlef Hegemann, President of the World Body of the Amateur Dance Sport Competitors: I would like to take the opportunity to congratulate you for all efforts made in order to reach this goal and welcome you in the Olympic Family".

No one of us Sport Dancers who was not really moved and especially proud. The IDSF had reached the provisional recognition as an International Association representing a kind of Sport which fulfills the Olympic criteria.

The endeavors to become as well Member of the General Association of International Sports Federation GAISF were successfully finished. In October 1992 IDSF was granted unanimously the full membership of this Organisation. Again a personal success for Rudolf Baumann, IDSF Treasurer and now delegate for GAIF and IOC Affairs. GAISF is the Federation of a bout 80 Olympic and non-Olympic international Sport Associations besides IOC. It has the right to join the discussions within the IOC and assists IOC in all matters of Sport and Memberships. The President of GAISF, Dr. Un Yong Kim, Korea, as well holds the office of one of the Vice-Presidents of IOC.

Today IDSF is made up of chapters in 64 countries and in addition the World Rock'n'Roll Federation as associated Member. The number of single members of the Dance Sport Associations in total maybe estimated of about 2 million people. The Germand continue to be a mainstay of ballroom dancing. The German Dance Sport Association for example comprises of 180,000 members. The registrated competitors amount to about 300,000. The number may be much higher because especially in Eastern Europe many youth and children couples are involved without being registrated and licensed as competitors.

In 22 countries the Amateur Dance Sport is Recognised by the National Olympic Committee, in many other countries promising negotiations have been taken up. The number of those Dancesport Associations which are recognised with the national authorities is even higher. Some National Olympic Committees presuppose for their own recognition of an Association the recognition to their Federation by the IOC while the IOC on the other hand wants as many as possible recognition's of Dance Sport Associations by National Olympic Committees.

The IDSF is confident and looks forward! On top of this successful World Body of Amateur Dance Sport we still find Detlef Hegemann as President--now for 32 years. In succession, Since 1965 each IDSF election has seen him unanimously returning unopposed. Together with his fellow members of the Presidium he led IDSF to importance and success and we are convinced he will as well lead Dance Sport to full Olympic Recognition.

Ballroom Costumes

I have few details on costuming. Many junior dancers wear tuxedoes, but this is not always the case.

The IDSF has rules for dress in standard dance competions:

For competitons in the Standard dances:
1a. Juvenile I and II:
Boys: Black or midnight-blue trousers. Plain white shirt with normal sleeves and arm holes.
Girls: Skirt of one colour - blouse of one colour or simple one colour dress. No decorations, no competition dress. High heel shoes are not permitted. Blockheel only with a maximum height of 3,5 cm.
1b. Junior I and II:
Boys: The suit must be black or midnight-blue, tailsuits are in Junior II allowed but not prescribed.
Girls: Competition dress.
1c. Youth:
Boys: The suit must be black or midnight-blue, tailsuits are allowed but not prescribed.
' Girls: Competition dress.

For competitions in the Latin American dances:
2a. Juvenile I and II:
Boys: Black or midnight-blue trousers. Plain white shirt with normal sleeves and armholes.
Girls: Skirt of one color - blouse of one color or simple one color dress. No decorations, no competition dress. High heel shoes are not permitted. Blockheel only with a maximum height of 3,5 cm.
2b. Junior I and II :
Boys: Black or midnight-blue trousers. Black vest and black tie optional. Plain white shirt with long sleeves.
Girls: Competition dress.
2c. Youth:
Boys: The suit must be black or midnight-blue. Black vest and black tie is optional. A white shirt may be worn under the suit or vest provided that the white shirt has long sleeves.
Girls: Competition dress.

Links

Ballroom dance will be a medal event in the next Olympics, but is it worthy? Leave it to Sunny Andersen to put it to the Olympic test in "Ballroom Dance Meets the Olympics."The Olympics





Christopher Wagner






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Created: November 4, 1998
Last updated: October 20, 2001