Sapphire Ballroom
Sapphire Ballroom News - September 2019
Something New for a New Season

SeptemberWelcome to Fall, y’all. I know it’s still officially summer, but the kids are back in school, pumpkin spice is in the stores, and we actually got a little break from the hot and humid weather. Sounds like Fall to me!

Even more than the beginning of a new year, I’ve always felt that Fall is a great time to start something new. You have to change gears anyway - the summer fun stuff won’t work for much longer - so maybe it’s time spice up your life with a new hobby.

In this newsletter, I’ve got a Sapphire Story from someone who tried something new, and was never the same again; a few reasons why you should try learning a routine, even if you’ve done it before; and a new take on a familiar dance party theme, which has led us to listening to a lot of country music (some of which is new).

As always, there’s a great big list of events at the end of this newsletter that you should be sure to check out. If you find the list overwhelming, take a look at our Google Calendar or Facebook events page. We do our best to keep them both up-to-date with lots of details about what is going on.

Skip to upcoming classes, workshops, and parties for September.

Chloe’s Story

Chloe is an indispensable part of the Sapphire team. Without her, the gears would stop moving.

I didn't start out at Sapphire at first. Wayne and Betty Coleman taught a summer class for a group of teens who had taken lessons at Sapphire, and that's where I was introduced to the delights of partner dancing. Brand new and learning Argentine Tango: definitely not the easiest thing I've ever done.

The end of the session neared and the class was invited to attend a Dance Party as a sort of finale. Not to sound cheesy, but as soon as I walked into Sapphire I felt as if I had come home. After 5 years of doing solo style dances, it was like a breath of fresh air to watch couples tango together across the floor.

At this point, I had to do Junior Ballroom. The instructor, Debbi, was at the Dance that night and seemed like the fun type of teacher. She had a sharp wit and an ever increasing amount of sarcasm. But when she danced, there was no doubt in your mind that she knew what she was doing. I was so nervous that first class, but as I learned my confidence grew.

More change was coming though, after two sessions of Junior Ballroom, Debbi asked me to become one of her 'minions' as she has affectionately named us. Now I'm just another part of the Sapphire family.

I want to point out that a new session of Junior Ballroom is starting this Friday. It was fun, engaging, and introduced me to friends and a new hobby I plan to keep for the rest of my life. Know anyone might enjoy doing the same?

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Routine Classes: A new way to push yourself

Love Story Performance at Winter Blues, 2018It might be surprising to find a studio like Sapphire, which is very into social dancing, connection, communication, improvisation, and all the glorious mistakes that come with ad libbing, pushing Routine classes.

Just to be clear - a routine class is not boring, as in “the same old dull routine.” It is a class where you learn a choreographed routine, start to finish, to a specific song, and then have the chance to perform it with your classmates. You are never required to perform.

What’s the point if you’re not going to perform? I’m glad you asked (even if you didn’t, really).

Really, the basic point of the class is to push yourself, whether or not you plan to perform. So many of us (teachers included!) get trapped in a maintenance cycle: where we spend all our lesson time trying to hang on to the things we already know, and so we stop learning new things and stop improving.

Tweens performRoutines and other performances are a great way to break out of that cycle. They provide goals, really achievable and easily measured goals which will leave you feeling accomplished at the end of the class. Choreography, especially well-done choreography, will introduce you to new moves, new ways to link familiar moves, and new ways to achieve that ever elusive “musicality.” We should all be striving to include musicality in our dancing, and most of us don’t know how to start. Here is one way. When you learn a routine, you will also frequently learn dips and tricks that will spice up your other dancing. Also, when you’re dancing a routine, even though it’s planned ahead, you’re leading or following your partner, so those communications skills will not go to waste.

IRWCS 2018 performance at Winter LuauWhen is a routine not for you? When it’s not fun. When you are so worried about remembering what comes next, you can’t enjoy what you are dancing now. When you don’t have enough of the foundations in that dance to make sense of the big fancy moves. So check the prerequisites of any routine class, talk to a teacher, and think about if learning a routine is for you. I really think everyone should try it at some point.

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Gambling and Country Music - a match made in the wild west

This month will feature the Lucky Draw Dance Party (Saturday, Sept 14). This theme was originally inspired by a Cha Cha routine “A Night Like This” and had nothing to do with Country Music. Instead it focused on music that talked about luck and gambling. (Quick - can you name 10 dance songs that have “luck” in their titles?) While brainstorming about what music to include, we noticed that a large number of the songs we were coming up with were country, and so it seemed like an obvious pairing, and a nice new persective on a favorite dance theme.

But, whenever we start talking about a Country-themed dance party, people seem to get a little nervous: “Will you play anything other than Two-Steps?” Absolutely, all of our regular dance styles will be feaured on the Dance Party playlist. “But I don’t line dance!” You don't have to, but you're welcome to try. “Can you really dance to Country Music?” Of Course!
To prove it, here’s a list of Country Music, both current and classic, that you can dance all kinds of things to.

In making this list, I did not focus on the gambling songs that will be featured at Lucky Draw, but instead tried to give you a large variety of music, fast and slow, happy and sad, really gritty country and kind of smoothed-out. To listen to the whole list, visit the Sapphire Ballroom YouTube Channel where you with find all the following song on this playlist.

Die A Happy Man

Die A Happy Man by Thomas Rhett, Bolero

With its slow, strong beat and happy story, this song just calls out for an in-the-kitchen dance with your sweetheart. At 84 BPM, you could do a slow Rumba, or a fast Nightclub, but after testing the options, we really like this song as a Bolero. Don’t know Bolero? Go for the other options, for now, and put it on your list to learn soon. It’s worth the effort. Want another option for Bolero? Try Alison Krauss’s When You Say Nothing At All - it’s been one of my favorites for decades.

Die From a Broken Heart

Die From A Broken Heart by Maddie & Tae, Nightclub 2-Step

Nightclub 2-step is a mainstay of UCWDC country dance competitions, so hopefully it’s no surprise there are a huge number of great Nightclubs on the Country Music charts. Too many to choose from! But this lovely ballad was just released by Maddie & Tae, showcasing the best aspects of heartbreak Country. For some other options, both Randy Travis’s Faith In You and George Strait’s I Believe are long-time favorites.

House Party

House Party by Sam Hunt, West Coast Swing

I first encountered West Coast Swing in a country bar, and took my first lesson in a Country Dance Studio. It’s a huge part of the Country Dance culture, so of course country music has some awesome West Coasts. At 111 BPM, this song is kind of medium/kind of fast, but definitely rockin’. Want another option? Check out Every Little Thing by Russell Dickerson.

I Just Wanna Dance With You

I Just Want To Dance With You by George Strait, Rumba

This happy ditty has a message you can’t argue with. This is what they invented dancing for. A nice clear beat, a light and fun feeling, and lyrics begging for a sing-along make this song a sure-win in Rumba. You could probably find another dance or two that would work to it as well, but for us, Rumba is the winner. Want another, ever more country-ish option? Try Gettin’ You Home by Chris Young. It has fun breaks all through for you to play with musically as well.

If The House Is Rockin

If The House Is Rockin’ by Lee Roy Parnell, East Coast Swing

This song is a lively, light-hearted treat for a lively, light-hearted dance. It’s got the swung rhythm, the heavy up-beat, and regular breaks to inspire your swing. For more options, check out Monkey Around by Delbert McClinton and Why Don’t We Just Dance by Josh Turner .

Meanwhile Back at Momma's

Meanwhile Back At Mama’s by Tim McGraw ft. Faith Hill, Country Two-Step

Of course country music is packed with Two-Steps; the hard part was choosing which ones to share. I picked this one because it’s just so pretty. At 175 bpm, this song is faster than you would think, but if you’ve got the skills to make it around the floor, the mellow sound will carry you somewhere lovely. Need a little slower? Try She’s Got It All by Kenny Chesney.

Somebody Like You

Somebody Like You by Keith Urban, Cha Cha

When this song came out, I could barely wait to test it on the dance floor. It’s a great Cha Cha, with a lively and clear beat, easy and fun to dance to. It also puts the lie to the idea all country songs are sad. Want another option? My Maria by Brooks & Dunn will get your boots moving.

When Love Finds You

When Love Finds You by Vince Gill, Slow Waltz

A gorgeous Slow Waltz, this song will have you gliding across the floor and singing along. At 72 bpm, it’s definitely at the slow end of the spectrum, but easy to hear and dance to. Another great Waltz is Dolly Parton’s Sandy’s Song. Both of these songs sound sad at on the first listen, but are actually happily celebrating the power of love (which is a swing, and not country, so will not be included in this list. :-) )

When Someone Stops Loving You

When Someone Stops Loving You by Little Big Town, Viennese Waltz

Country music is full of Waltzes just a bit too fast for Ballroom dancers to Slow Waltz to. You know what we do with them? A nice, mellow Viennese Waltz. Yes, mellow is not a word I usually apply to this super-fast, challenging dance. But when you have options in the 130bpm range, the possibilities open up. I’ll admit, this song is a bit of a tear-jerker; so if you want something a bit more light-hearted, trust Brad Paisley to find some humor in everything and try out I’m Still a Guy.

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Calendar Graphic

Coming Events:

Events are hosted at the Sapphire Studio on Main Street in Christiansburg unless otherwise specified.


Friday Night Beginner Workshops (CTAM) - every Friday this month except 9/13 (see below!), 7:00pm
A great way to spend your Friday evening! Learn the basics of some of our most popular dances without any commitment. No partner or previous experience needed.

Dance Party Junior Ballroom @ Sapphire - Friday, starts 9/6, 5:00pm
Intended for teens and tweens ages 18 and under. This session will include a Swing Dance style - this spinning, up-beat dance is sure to get some of their energy out! - and another style based on the class's interest.
Upper Level

Waltz Workshop: A New Run-Around - Monday, 9/09, 7:00pm
We will be revisiting the promenade chasse to get this favorite Waltz move spinning.
Prerequisite: Level 2 Waltz

Upper Level

West Coast Swing Workshop: Strong Arming - Monday, 9/09, 8:00pm
Get ready to explore options based on an unexpected connection point.
Prerequisite: Level 2 WCS

Special Event FREE Lessons during the Food Truck Rodeo - Friday, 9/13, 6:00-9:00pm
Visiting Downtown Christiansburg for the Food Truck Rodeo? Stop in and get a free lesson while you’re here!

Dance Party

Lucky Draw Dance Party - Saturday, 9/14, 7:30pm
Join us for a Casino-Cool dance party, featuring the best luck you can find. Just to be clear - there will be no gambling here, just a sure bet of a fun time dancing.

Special Event Senior Social Dance Party - Sunday, 9/15, 3:00pm
Intended for ages 55+, but no one is checking IDs at the door.
Upper Level

East Coast Swing Workshop: Ins And Outs - Monday, 9/16, 7:00pm
Getting into the ins and outs of Copa Turns in swing. You do not need to know Copas before trying this workshop - we will tell you what you need to know.
Prerequisite: Level 2 ECS

Upper Level

Trot The Fox - The Dirty Dancing Fox Trot Routine - Mondays, 9/16, 8:00pm
Join us for a 4-week class to learn the short but challenging routine that Sapphire Staff perform at Mountain Lake during Dirty Dancing Weekends. Members of the class will have the chance to perform at a Sapphire dance party, if they want, or to just take it for the fun and mental exercise. Prerequisite: Level 3 Fox Trot

Upper Level

Salsa Workshop: Cape Things - Monday, 9/23, 7:00pm
Let’s pile on the spins for him and her in cross hand and cape positions.
Prerequisite: Level 2 Salsa

Upper Level

Fall Sampler: FREE Intro Lesson - Wednesday, 9/25, 7:15pm
Come out and get a free lesson in the basics of a variety of dances. Held at Blacksburg Community Center.

Upper Level

Hustle Workshop: Diva Walks - Monday, 9/30, 7:00pm
Strut your stuff in some moves with attitude. Never been to an Upper Level Workshop? This is a great one to start with! Prerequisite: Level 2 Hustle

Upper Level

October Group Classes - Tuesday and Wednesday, 10/8 & 10/9
What you’ve been waiting for - Fall Session of Group Classes will begin the second week of October. Taught at the Blacksburg Community Center.


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Thanks for reading; we hope you found something you liked. Until we see you again, happy dancing!

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Sapphire Ballroom & Dance Center

30 W Main Street, Suite C, Christiansburg, VA  24073 - 540-382-8782