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 – “The man leads and the lady follows, is a dogma of the dance world that sounds as barbaric as it is outdated,” says Ron Algood, a ballroom dance instructor in Tampa Fla.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.


“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.”
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


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.


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

1st Dance, Wedding or Ballroom?

By Ron Algood

I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard a future bride say, “My fiancée has two left feet.” In my 26 years of teaching dance in Tampa Bay, I’ve never encountered two left feet. On the contrary, I’ve found that most grooms are very capable dance partners. Often the problem is that wedding couples seeking a memorable first dance have had their nerves shattered by the notion that their wedding dance needs to be a complicated ballroom routine, like on Dancing with the Stars. Unfortunately, those that are lured into one of many franchised dance studios by a free introductory dance lesson become frustrated by high prices and a ballroom dance routine that doesn’t match their song. And more often than not, they are forced into choosing another song that they didn’t want in the first place. I’ve witnessed that scenario played out numerous times. The fact is, a good wedding dance doesn’t have to be a competition ballroom or Latin dance routine. And that’s one of the many reasons I left the high-priced franchises more than a decade ago and became an independent.

I don’t want to berate ballroom dancing in any way. I love it. As a former competitor with trophies ranging from 1989 to 2006, I worked hard to achieve my professional status, and I have the State Championships (along with many national 2nd places) to back up my record. But even while I was competing, I always enjoyed exhibition dancing more than competitions. Exhibition dancing allows for more freedom of expression; whereas, competition dancing is often riddled to death with relentless dance moves packed into a 90 second routine. In the same way, I find that a good wedding dance tends to the simpler version as compared its ballroom predecessor. And as a teacher for over 26years, I find it more rewarding to give couples what they need instead of a trophy they can hang on a wall—a memorable wedding dance.

The first problem most couples encounter is the song. The fact is, even if it’s the bride’s favorite song, a ballroom studio will often try to change it. Why? Because it doesn’t fall into their familiar category of Waltz, Foxtrot, or Rumba. Unfortunately (even though they’re broken hearted on the inside), brides and grooms alike fall into the trap of discarding their favorite song. They do this in order to appease the franchised ballroom teacher, who has convinced them they must do so in order to save their wedding dance. Hogwash, it doesn’t have to be this way.

I was first introduced to The Nightclub Two-Step (not to be confused with the country western two-step) about 20 years ago. Buddy Schwimmer, who is the father of Benji Schwimmer, the 2006 season winner of So You Think You Can Dance invented the dance in the 1960s, so couples could dance to songs with slow to mid-range 4/4 timing. That timing happens to be one of the most popular timings for songs chosen by wedding couples. Hence, the Nightclub Two-Step (NC2S) has become one of the most popular dances taught by instructors who are willing to venture into uncharted territory, in other words independent teachers.

One of the benefits of being an independent instructor is the freedom to think and execute outside the box. I discovered this long before I started specializing in wedding dances. Ask any successful ballroom competition dancer, and they’ll most likely tell you their coach is an independent teacher. My wife and I are no exception. While competing we found that independent coaches often had years of experience that outweighed their franchised counterparts ten to one. Moreover, they often went outside the box and were more current on dance styles. And that’s where wedding dances come in. The Nightclub Two-step and wedding couples make the perfect marriage.

I have also found that the Introduction (also called the intro) of the dance is the most important. Most songs are phrased out, and many wedding dance intros have a 32 count phrase, regardless of the type of dance. It’s those first 32 beats of music that captures the audience. For that reason, if I had to choose any part of the dance to be perfected, it would be the intro. I can guarantee by the end of that first phrase, the bride’s mother will be displaying tears of joy, as well as the groom’s. If a boo-boo happens afterwards (and it always does), no one will even notice! And the good news is that most dance intros can be learned in just a few lessons. Unless the couple wants unique choreography, three hours of instruction is usually enough. I know many of my former ballroom competitors will disagree. But I recently developed a 32 count intro that proves my point. Additionally, one can use it for any type of dance. I demonstrate it with a Viennese Waltz, but you can substitute it with any style, like an NC2S, by just changing the last 8 count to a basic step or an under arm turn that’s relevant to that particular dance style.

Ron Algood is a certified Gold-Level independent dance instructor. He resides in Tampa, Fla. where  for more than 25 years he has taught numerous couples the gift of dance. He teaches all types of partner-dancing, including ballroom, Latin, Swing, Nightclub Two-Step and social dancing. Over the last ten years he has specialized in wedding dances and unique choreography including theater arts.  His website is www.foreverweddingdances.com He can be reached at info@foreverweddingdances.com or  813 417-DANC.