Urban twist to traditional style ballroom dancing


Valerie & Larry Gates

By Tyler Hatten, 

Unite Contributing Writer

Everyone knows that look you give your partner when a certain song plays and forces your shoulders to bounce. Fingers locked, eyes gazing and you’re ready to dance. But which dance will you do?

Ballroom dance is a style of partner dance with various versions performed around the world. However dancers Capers Tyus, Tyrone Bradley and Linda Harris from Michigan developed “Detroit Ballroom” also known as “Motown Ballroom”. This style of dance adds an urban twist to the traditional style of ballroom dance. The style derives from the influences of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.

Dance instructors Larry Gates “Mr. G” and wife Valerie Gates “Lady V” saw a lack of diversity for African Americans in Springfield. Urging to get back in the groove, in 2011 they began teaching Detroit Ballroom dance in Springfield as a place where people can come together and learn something new.

The couple conducts dance classes at Ballroom World located on 1911 S Glenstone Ave which are held every Saturday at 4 PM. The white oak floors, incredible sound system and mirrored walls make for an effective dance session. At $10 for an hour and a half, you learn Detroit Ballroom dance and you have the chance to stick around for happy hour where they dance to the latest R&B hits.

“We just focus on having a good time” says Gates. The two also teach two styles of line dancing. Classes have a wide age range from college students to senior citizens. Willing to expand, the couple and a few of the students periodically travel to Kansas City to support a sister group in ballroom dancing.

Detroit Ballroom is an easy way to get a light cardio workout in while also adding a few moves to your repertoire. Some of the experienced couples like to step in as guidance for the newcomers. The dance sessions are also an opportunity for you and your partner to have bonding time and to do something fun.

If interested in learning more, visit theballroomworld.com or stop by this Saturday to experience for yourself. Their techniques are sure to have you dancing smoother than ever.