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Dance extravaganza first for club

The premiere of “Dancing with the Stars” in its 15th season on Monday on ABC, this time with an “All-Stars” cast, was timed perfectly for this week.

A local dance group also will step up to salute National Ballroom Dance Week noon-3 p.m. Saturday at Myrtle Beach mall.

USA Dance Grand Strand Chapter 6024, which gives lessons Monday nights in the Anaerobic Studio in the mall and has a public social dance every month in Myrtle Beach, has organized a slew of activities for Saturday in the mall’s cinema court. Free demonstrations and lessons will cover such dances as the cha-cha, fox trot, rumba, swing and waltz.

Louis Gianelos, a native Buckeye who retired to Carolina Shores, N.C., and is president of the local USA Dance chapter, gave an overview of the dance extravaganza, a first for the club, for which he said Kim Dayvault, the mall’s specialty leasing manager, helped coordinate.

Question | With this kind of forum for this USA Dance chapter’s first open house in a casual mall setting, how does this help introduce dancing in a comfortable, enticing way for the public as a pastime?

Answer | Everybody has favorite dances. Dancing also a great social activity. ... You have the interaction socially. You get to meet new friends. I’ve been down here for only six years, and I’ve met an number of good friends through ballroom dancing through the club, and through the other clubs in the area.

Q. | Various local groups have lessons and dances regularly. For newcomers to USA Dance’s weekly club lessons and monthly social dances, what disciplines do people desire most to learn?

A. | Most people who come have already had some ballroom lessons, but we cater to all levels of ballroom dancing, whether people are beginners, intermediate or advanced. ... You go along, and learn more and more.

Q. | From how vast a radius does the club draw loyal patrons?

A. | We have about 75 members, with one who comes from about 50 miles, some coming from Pawleys Island and Conway. They come from all over.

Q. | What path might a rookie take on the dance floor in mastering steps and routines, and is there a certain sequence through which one progresses?

A. | It’s easy to learn to dance. You take beginner’s lessons, starting with a fox trot, then maybe a waltz, rumba and swing. Many like the cha-cha. The order depends on the instructor.

Q. | What punched your ticket to the dance floor?

A. | Years ago, my wife said, “Why don’t we take up ballroom dancing?” and I said, “No way.” Two months went by, and she asked the question again. I said, “I’ll make you a deal: I’ll take up dancing if you take up golfing.” We went to take golf lessons, and I was the only guy in the class. Then we went to dance lessons, and like Mikey says, I “liked it.” That was 50 years ago.

Q. | Do USA Dance members see trends in turnout across a whole year?

A. | Turnout at our monthly dances is heaviest during snowbird season, and very light in the middle of summer. We have only about 40 people in the middle of summer and closer to 100 in winter. .. It’s mostly couples showing up, but we cater to singles, too.

Q. | Does a gender gap emerge?

A. | At one time, we had more single women; now there’s more single men. Why that is, I don’t know.

Q. | Do dancers follow “Dancing with the Stars” as well?

A. | That type of dancing is what’s called “dance sport.” I don’t recognize some of those dances – that’s how complicated it is. That type of dancing is more athletic than ballroom as we know it, as social dancing. Also, we do not have any competitive dancing in any of our chapters.

Q. | Does a range in age cover the dance floor?

A. | The youngest couple we have are probably in their late 30s, and the oldest is me; I’ll be turning 85 – that’s why I’ve been able to dance for 50 years.

Q. | How do dancing’s health benefits keep the drive alive for people to return to the floor?

A. | Ballroom dancing is great for the mind and great for the physical aspects. You don’t think if it being a mental thing, because you’re constantly changing directions and legs. You might get started early on helping to deter Alzheimer’s disease. Dancing has helped me through the many, many years.

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