Ariya Bounpraseuth, who coyly admits he’s in his 30s, is a Latin dance fiend. Originally from Laos, Bounpraseuth escaped the Vietnam War 20 years ago and came to Australia as a refugee when he was ten years old.

Things could only get better. Bounpraseuth joined the Johnny Young Talent School in Year 10 (but don’t hold that against me! he laughs), and it sowed a creative seed that is now blooming.

I used to be in marketing, but I left -˜high flyer corporate life’ to study graphic design, he says. The Gay Games thing is separate from work, but my love for Latin dance is still there.

Bounpraseuth is a regular at the Randwick dance school Hot 2 FoxTrot, and credits the centre -“ and its instructors -“ with inspiring his love of same-sex partner ballroom dancing. I danced as a hobby at first and then I found myself -˜going for the grade’, he laughs.

Bounpraseuth wants to make his mark in ballroom dance at Sydney 2002. His moment in the sun will (hopefully) occur in just under 200 days from now, and together with his participation in Freezone Volleyball (as a committee member and player), Bounpraseuth could well earn the gong for the most unique involvement in November’s Gay Games.

I’ve been a ballroom dancer for some time, but this is my first big competition, Bounpraseuth confides. It’s something I always wanted to do -“ putting on the dancing shoes for the first time felt so, so good and now, I want to celebrate my love of Latin dance, rhumba, modern Latin and the rest with a partner!

Interested parties can contact Bounpraseuth via the number listed below, and might also be enticed by what is sure to be an amazing event. Sydney 2002 will host the second-ever Gay Games dancing competition, and after a hugely successful (and popular) event in Amsterdam in 1998, organisers are hoping for an even bigger turnout for 2002. Competition will take place over five days, from Sunday 3 November to Wednesday 6 November and it’s expected the competition will attract 200 couples, ranging from beginners to professional dancers. Female and male couples will compete in separate events and a dance couple must comprise two female partners or two male partners.

A Grand Ball will be held in the evening of Friday 8 November to celebrate achievements, meet new friends and see exhibitions from masters of the sport. Tickets have only just (in April) become available, but given the popularity of the event, patrons are advised to get in quickly.

Three styles of dance will be included: Modern Ballroom, (Standard); Latin American and New Vogue, but it’s here that things get (at least for me) a bit hazy. The rules and regulations are lengthy and it’s well worth checking out Sydney 2002’s website for the inside track on what’s expected of competitors. Readers should also note that this year’s event includes a wheelchair competition, in which a dancing couple must consist of one wheelchair user and one able-bodied partner.

We have every indication that it will be spectacular. There’ll be 10-piece bands and lighting and the rest -¦ Sydney Town Hall is going to be the most amazing venue, says Bounpraseuth.

I am in the volleyball club -“ which is fantastic -“ but as a really sporty person, I want to do it all!

 

Same-sex ballroom dancing classes are held at Hot 2 Foxtrot, 161 Alison Road, Randwick. For more information, contact Phillip Logan on 0414 849 472 or Virginia on 0409 596 330. (You can also contact Bounpraseuth via these numbers). The Gay Games VI Dance Spectacular will be held from 3 November to 6 November. Registration fee: $336.00. You can register now on www.sydney2002.org .au. For more information, email dancing@sydney2002.org.au or go to www.gaygames.org.

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