Championships to make you GLAD
The Gay and Lesbian Australian Dance Championships are a girls’ night out for sure, but Christopher and Kevin provided a notable contrast. The only male dance couple bravely stepped out with confidence for the waltz and cha cha. Held annually around August, this year’s event took place on 25 August at the wonderfully art deco Petersham Town Hall.
The hall, chosen for its ideal size and well-kept wooden dancefloor, was home to well over 200 enthusiasts keen for a night of ballroom and Latin exhibitionism. The event is staged by JJs Dance School. With the organisers promoting themselves as Sydney’s lesbian dance school it was no surprise the majority of the audience and all but two of the participants were women.
The couture for the evening was elegant black in a variety of styles, broken by some startlingly effective colour on some of the dancers. The general opinion was black is slimming and it certainly highlighted the precision and poise of many of the dancers.
It may have been bring your own food and grog (your correspondent can attest to some very good taste in French reds) but no amount of home-prepared sandwiches and dips could detract from the excitement of the competition. Huge applause rewarded the experienced and encouraged the beginners as they danced through the diverse disciplines. The graceful but difficult slow foxtrot contrasted with the lively quickstep while the samba and rumba couples also had to jive. Catcalls and hoots were in evidence, especially for demonstration dances by medal winners from the Gay Games and Outgames in North America last year.
The success of lesbian same-sex dancing in Sydney can be largely attributed to Jan Blanch, who proudly runs JJs Dance. Jan, a multi-award winner in Australasian dance competition in the past and currently an adjudicator and examiner for the Federal Association of Teachers of Dancing, proudly brings her skills to classes of all levels. She organises half a dozen or so dances for women throughout the year as well as the GLAD Championships.
Jan’s enthusiasm is boundless. “To live is to dance,” she says. “We love beginners and we love the social as well as the competitive side.” There is a commitment required but how much depends on how competitive couples want to be. “Teenagers in the straight dance world are good because they start so young,” Jan says, “but in this scene you can become competitive starting with one class a week.” And why dance? “Oh, it’s a couple thing,” Jan smiles, “and addictive. The loyalty I receive is unbelievable.”
Jan encourages her protégées to attend competition around Australia and indeed the world. In return interstate participants come to Sydney – four states were represented at the championships this year. There is plenty of opportunity: those chasing the medals will be busy for Adelaide during the opening week of Feast in November, the Asia Pacific Outgames in Melbourne at the beginning of February next year and the Same Sex Dance Spectacular in Sydney later in the same month.
Same-sex dance is a fabulous social environment and the events are well supported by friends and fellow enthusiasts. JJs is for the girls but boys should not be discouraged – Dance Dance with Hot to Foxtrot encourages male dance couples. However, guys should be warned: if you want to compete at GLAD you need to be as brave as Christopher and Kevin.
To start from scratch or to hone your dance skills call Jan on 0412 774 422 (JJs Dance) or David 9150 8222 (Dance Dance with Hot to Foxtrot).