A Long Time Ago, on a Dance Floor, Far Far Away

By Terrance Moon

TAMPA, Fla. – “The man leads and the lady follows, is a dogma of the dance world that sounds as barbaric as it is outdated,” says Ron Algood, a ballroom dance instructor in Tampa Fla. that specializes in first wedding dances. According to Algood, times have changed. He believes in a more modern approach, based in aesthetics and inclusion.

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“Every movement the leader does on the dance floor should make the follower look better, not the other way around. The leader is the frame, and the follower is the picture,” Algood says. It’s a much smoother approach to an old teaching method that frankly, was too authoritarian. Besides, who wants to dance with someone that’s bossing you around? Dancing should not only be fun, but inclusive.”

That’s why dancing together for one’s first wedding dance or simply to enhance one’s relationship is now for everyone, including the LGBT community. Algood should know. He was one of the first gold-certified dance instructors in Tampa that welcomed Gays and Lesbians into his studio back in the 1990s. However, now that he’s specializing in wedding dances, one would think his former LGBT students have dissipated—not so.

Although same sex weddings are not yet legal in Florida, Algood says it’s only a matter of time. Besides, nearly half of his students are learning to ballroom dance for various reasons. Social dance halls that specialize in ballroom dancing are popping up everywhere. They’re inexpensive, smoke free, and according to Algood, offer a relaxed atmosphere that welcomes all couples, including same-sex ones.

“As far as know, I was the first,” says Algood. “I went dancing at this Country & Western club call the Neon Moon back in the 90s. At the time, I didn’t even know it was considered an LGBT establishment. As it turned out, my professional partner and I tripped the light fantastic till the place closed. Afterwards, several couples asked for my card; I guess they figured out we were instructors by our dancing skills. Anyway, they became my first LGBT students.”
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According to Algood, they also became the first students that exemplified his modern teaching theory.
Teaching the LGBT community to dance has one benefit that’s exclusive to them: They can switch roles (leader vs. follower) even in the middle of a lesson. Most couples start out with a pre-determined leader and follower. But in dance, sometimes one partner can do better in a different role than the one previously assigned. That’s where their flexibility and his teaching method join forces to create a beautiful picture.

“I think it keeps things exciting. I particularly remember this one couple, two middle-aged women, one with great rhythm, one not so great. Consequently, they were struggling. Half way through the lesson I suggested they switch roles, just for the fun of it. That did it,” Algood said. They became great dancers, and I was thankful to them for being open-minded and willing to try something new. Likewise, they seem to really appreciate the fact that I knew both the traditional female and male particulars of ballroom dancing, even though I’m straight. For me, it’s all about teaching the gift dance, not about someone’s sexual preference.”

Ron Algood is a Tampa native and a graduate of The University of South Florida. He and his wife, Carolyn, are former competitors and FSF champions. He has taught couples ballroom dancing for more than 25 years. He specializes in teaching First Wedding Dances and LGBT couples. Gift certificates for all occasions are available. He can be reached at (813) 417-3262 or info@foreverweddingdances.com

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Just how dear is Dearly?

TAMPA, Fla. — A recent article in The Wall Street Journal claims that buying two separate airline tickets for international travel is often less expensive than buying one ticket. It’s an airline tactic known in the travel business as “hidden cities”. Although this may be true, author Scott McCartney warns that the strategy comes with serious trade-offs that could cost one dearly. That begs the question: Just how dear is dearly?

“They’re not for everybody,” Says Ron Algood, a travel industry expert in Tampa with more than 25 years of experience in the travel industry.

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Algood says that hidden cities are no secret. They’re gateway cities that are cheaper launch-points for international travel. Savvy travelers have known about them for years. A good travel agent will normally disclose their price-points. He says a great travel agent, however, will share their downside risks as well. He reveals that airlines are under no obligation to honor a no-show passenger, especially when the missed connection is due to a self constructed itinerary.

“Even worse,” He says, “if you’re a no-show on the outbound international flight, that airline will most likely cancel your return flight as well. That’s a hefty price to pay; a price that could run into the thousands of dollars.”

And according to Algood, most travelers are not willing or able to pay those kinds of penalties. Whereas The Wall Street Journal briefly disclosed those risks, Algood points to the fact that a seasoned travel agent can help avoid those risks altogether.

“Self-constructed itineraries are a more acceptable practice to college students flying on the cheap,” Algood says. “They don’t mind an overnight at a gateway city on their way to backpacking through Europe or Asia. But a party of four taking their family vacation to Europe or Hawaii doesn’t have that luxury. Unpacking and repacking, plus paying for additional hotel nights times four can add up quickly. Then imagine a no-show fee in the thousands of dollars times four; that’s a nightmare.”

According to Algood, there’s a much smarter way.

“Most vacationers need hotels or condos included in their vacation,” Algood says. “By allowing a wholesaler to ticket the airline portion of their itinerary as part of an air-hotel package, they’re sharing in the responsibility of getting the customers to their destination. Pleasant Holidays is just one good example of a reputable wholesaler that packages Australia, Hawaii, and now Europe. A savvy travel agent knows several, each one specializing in different parts of the world.”

“Moreover, packaged air-fares usually offer add-on fares from most major cities in the United States,” Algood reiterated. “Yes, you may pay a little more, but it’s worth the peace of mind. In most cases, knowing that the long awaited family vacation or Honeymoon will not be devastated by amateur piecemeal tactics is worth it.”

Algood also strongly urges travelers to buy travel insurance from a reputable insurance provider. Doing so covers not only medical treatments incurred overseas, but also the investment of the vacation itself. He notes that most airline tickets are non-refundable or have major penalties for canceling, but that’s not the only reason to buy travel insurance.

“The Savvy traveler will protect his or her investment with travel insurance,” Algood says. “Reliable policies also include coverage for cancellations due to illness of the passenger or immediate family member, missed connections, and even lost luggage. Additionally, most people’s medical insurance does not cover them outside of the United States; travel insurance does. I would never travel abroad without it. Travelex is one of the best; plus for convenience, they have money exchange booths set up at most gateway cities.”

Ron Algood is a Tampa native and a graduate of The University of South Florida with a concentration in public relations. He has traveled the World extensively and worked as a travel consultant for more than 25 years. His specialties are leisure travel, cruises, and unique honeymoon destinations. Besides being a travel industry expert, he teaches modern ballroom dancing and specializes in first wedding dances