Ballroom Dance: A Contact Sport

The couple moved across the dance floor, somewhat less than smoothly, obviously mismatched in terms of skill. The man provided a strong lead to which the woman bravely attempted to respond. The music had a fast beat - he later described it as "almost a quickstep," one of the more challenging of the ballroom dances, and one certainly not suited for a beginner - and as they moved across the middle of the floor their feet, instead of moving in concert, tangled briefly and the couple stumbled.

As they began their descent toward the floor, it appeared for an instant they might regain their balance but the man, in an ill-fated attempt to rescue the situation, clung to his partner rather than letting her fall free. Inexplicably, they came face-to-face, literally and forcefully, and crashed to the floor in that position, him on top of her. They immediately rolled apart and onto their backs, striking oddly similar poses, legs outstretched, holding their faces as if to reassure themselves that they were intact.

She had a broken nose and a torn nostril. His nose wasn't broken, but his eyes were already beginning to blacken. Ballroom dance had claimed yet another set of victims.

That scene played out last Saturday night, near the end of what was otherwise an enjoyable and carefree evening of dancing to the music of an outstanding band from Austin, Texas. I was an eyewitness to the mishap, which took place only a few feet from the table where we were sitting while taking a break.

This was the third serious accident (that I know of) in as many years at a club dance. All three resulted in at least one visit to the emergency room. The victim of one of those incidents suffered months of recovery. And each mishap was the result of dancers trying steps that either they or their partners were unprepared for.

I suspect that everyone who has danced regularly has had mishaps of varying degrees of seriousness, ranging from smashed toes to elbows in the face to turned ankles. My eyeglasses have gone flying across the room, and Debbie has dropped like a rock when another dancer (not me, thank goodness) stepped on her foot. Neither of us has been injured (pride doesn't count; we lost that baggage as soon as we started taking lessons!), but incidents like last Saturday night's remind us that ballroom isn't for wimps.

In fact, it might be advisable to have safety briefs at the beginning of each dance. As the police sergeant in Hill Street Blues said each day prior to the start of the next shift, "let's be careful out there." The dance floor can be a dangerous place!


You might consider having novices don football helmets and shoulder pads. Tell them it was necessary to comply with the liability portion of your insurance coverage.

Ouch. I would so love to go dancing every week or twice a year, but my husband just really hates it because he thinks he's clumsy. Yes, we met at a dance.

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This page contains a single entry by Eric published on July 26, 2010 8:17 AM.

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