Ballroom dancing in Japan

While most of my free time is spent sitting in front of the computer, watching movies or playing video games, I have tried to find some other hobbies to keep things interesting. 

I tried juggling, and succeeded in keeping four balls in the air for a good five seconds. I mastered the Rubik’s cube, being able to complete it within three minutes, and I even tried something a bit more Japanese – karate, which I soon gave up after breaking my fingers!

Japanese calligraphy and the art of ‘tea ceremony’ never really took my fancy, and one day each at pottery and taiko drumming classes was enough for me. Learning the language was probably my greatest achievement. I’m not fluent by any means, but I’m comfortable in Japanese enough to follow TV dramas, the news, chat with just about anyone, or complain to the bank manager. 

After getting married, however, I wanted to find a new hobby which Mami and I could do together. Strangely, that hobby found us!

Mr. H, a 70-year-old student of mine who despite his age wanted to learn English so he could travel the world by himself, is an avid ballroom dancer. He’s been taking dancing lessons for ten years and even competes at ballroom events. I invited Mr. H to our school’s Christmas party and he brought his friend, Ms. K along with him. While everyone was dancing to your typical dance and pop music, Mr. H and Ms. K, lit up the dancefloor by doing the Jive to the classic Y.M.C.A! Needless to say everyone was dead impressed.

A few days later, Mami and I went on our belated honeymoon to England, where she would finally meet my parents. Since it was the Christmas season, there was a special edition of Strictly Come Dancing. While Evander Holyfield graced the TV set, Mum and Dad told Mami about how they first met each other at a ballroom dance, and we told them about Mr.H and Ms. K. It was also around this time that Richard Gere and Jennifer Lopez starred in a remake of the Japanese movie, Shall we Dance?, which then prompted a popular Japanese TV station to produce their own version of Strictly Come Dancing, imaginatively titled Shall We Dance?

Early in January, Mr. H invited us to watch him at a special ballroom dancing event, and we happily agreed. The first thing that struck us was that everyone was much older than us. Nevertheless, we couldn’t help be impressed by how good all the dancers were, and they clearly took it very seriously. Dressed to the max in glittering costumes, top hats and tails, they looked like Japanese versions of Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire. Later in the day, a group of professional dancers performed for the crowd, including a ballroom version of Star Wars! When the show was over, and after we had taken advantage of the free booze, Mr. H introduced us to M-Sensei, and our first dance lesson was booked.

We take dance lessons just once a week, and sometimes only twice a month, but we have pretty much got the basics of the Slow Waltz, the Blues, the Jive, the Rumba and the Cha Cha. Soon we’ll be starting on the Fox Trot and who knows what after that.

Ballroom dancing might not be for everyone, but I highly recommend it if you’re in a relationship and would like to try something that you can both work at together. I think it’s important to have a hobby which you can learn and share with your partner, even its only purpose is to give you quality time together.

If you like, you can find me on Twitter at @nick_ramsay. I'd love to hear from you!

4 thoughts on “Ballroom dancing in Japan

    1. Sorry, I’ve no idea. I doubt you’d find one in English, so your best bet would be to look in the Yahoo Japan directory, or ask someone to do it for you.

  1. Thanks Nick. I’m going to Japan in 2009 and I’m an avid ballroom dancer. It’s great to know there are places I can go to to keep my hobby whilst overseas.

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