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‘Mad Hot Ballroom’ dances into Greenbelt

Area beginners and experienced dancers burn the floor in first-ever event

At the Saturday night, the waltz, tango, rumba, cha-cha-cha and paper lanterns took over the gym floor where basketball generally makes its home.

Perhaps looking to capitalize on the popularity of TV shows like “Dancing with the Stars” and “So You Think You Can Dance,” the first ever “Mad Hot Ballroom,” sponsored by the Greenbelt Recreation Department, saw a crowd that topped off at about 30 dancing across the ballroom floor.

For a while, at least, every woman became a “lady” and every man became a “gentleman,” as longtime instructor Frank Solomon paced the evening’s dances.

Solomon, the director of the ballroom dance program at the Greenbelt Community Center, said that the dance party was an opportunity to bring back “romance and old-fashioned etiquette.”

Anne Sadler drove 45 minutes to take part in the 7 p.m. waltz lesson before the dance party (which will be held the second Saturday of every month). She said the $10 cover was not a high price to pay for the opportunity to put on her dancing shoes.

“There aren’t a lot of dances around,” said Sadler of Pasadena, Md. “It was well worth the drive—and the artistic exercise.”

A Silver Spring couple—married 29 years—used their six-plus years of dancing to showcase their tango.

Emiko Butler said she and her husband Rex had been looking for something they could do together and have been dancing on and off ever since. “We enjoy the partnership. Ballroom dancing is more about a politeness, a social occasion. It has an etiquette to it that I enjoy.”

Greenbelt residents, too, represented—dancing in and out of the shadows cast by the paper lanterns.

Paula Clinedinst and her boyfriend have taken lessons with Solomon and decided to come out because it looked like a fun thing to do.  Her advice to anyone sitting along the wall? “Just go ahead and do it! [Solomon’s] a great teacher, great for beginners,” she said.” He makes sure everyone gets a chance to dance. And it’s fun!”

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