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 – “The man leads and the lady follows, is a dogma of the dance world that sounds as barbaric as it is outdated,” says Ron Algood, a ballroom dance instructor in Tampa Fla.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