Night of 1,000 Stars (a dance-off)

What do you get when you mix a bunch of very white americans, WWII-era dance music, ballroom dance students and instructors, and the basement of a “dance factory” that hasn’t changed since its first day in 1976?You guessed it: Night of 1,000 Stars. A Pro/Am ballroom dancing competition where everyone from your 28-year old receptionist to your 68-year old high-ranking Pentagon officer and his wife put on their dancing shoes, tame their ballroom dancing fears, and become “stars” as they show-off their moves. Also the weirdest night of my 2006 thus far…When i heard “basement”, “ballroom dancing competition”, and “Northern Virginia” from the unnamed friends responsible for this evening, i figured we were talking a tweaked out version of Fight Club, where we’d all be in a smoky, dimly lit basement shouting and hollering at some ballroom dancers and breaking beer bottles when the dancers messed up or weren’t good enough. What could be more fun than that?Given these high expectations, you can imagine my shock during the first 30 minutes in this well-ventilted, shiny-floored, and florescent-lit basement. After I finished telling myself that sure I could dance like that if i wanted to, I warmed up to the scene. The next time I come accross something like this will probably be as soon as I’m dropped from the sky into a church barbecue in Ames, Iowa.Then I realized that dreams were coming true before my very eyes. Oh yes. That 80 year-old woman who just performed a waltz with her instructor? That was probably the last item on her list in order to die happy. And the very, very heavy lady dancing the cha cha with her instructor and showing us those thighs when she twirls? She’s learning to be proud of her body. That awkward-looking couple? Ballroom dancing classes are re-igniting their stalled marriage.So do I have any proof that this subculture exists? Glad you asked. Check out this video I snapped of one of the performers… also the most random person in all of DC that we could have possibly run-into here. (First EchoDitto staffer to recognize the woman in this video wins.)

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