Hundreds attend annual ballroom event in Girard
GIRARD — Nearly 300 people from all around northeast Ohio and western Pennsylvania crowded into the Avon Oaks ballroom for the annual Snowflake Ball that allows both experienced and new dancers to show their moves on the dance floor.
The ball, sponsored by USA Dance (Youngstown-Warren Chapter No. 2015) takes place every December to celebrate and promote ballroom dancing in the Mahoning Valley and beyond. Avon Oaks has one of the oldest and largest wooden dance floors in Ohio, according to Susan Ryan, president of USA Dance. It is one of a few ballrooms left in the United States, with 24 historic ballrooms remaining across the country, she said.
Kim Wagner of Youngstown and Franklin Evans of Struthers have been dance partners about six years.
“I’ve always liked to dance and a friend of mine offered me some free dance lessons,” Wagner said of her introduction to ballroom dancing. “I got hooked. I’ve been dancing ever since.”
Wagner described loving the challenge of learning new dance routines and the social aspect of the dance community.
“There’s nothing bad about dancing,” she said. “I come here every week. When you dance, it’s like going on vacation for a couple hours.”
Like Wagner, Evans was introduced to ballroom dancing by a friend who offered free dance lessons. The two quickly became friends and dance partners.
“We teamed up for a show to do a fox trot and swing thing,” he said. “We’ve been together since.”
Wagner said they learned about 30 different patterns and 18 different dances.
“I’ve put a dance studio in my basement,” he said. “We practice a lot. We put a lot of time and money into this. We have a lot of fun doing this.”
Janet Moore of Boardman has been dancing for about seven years.
“I saw some friends dancing and wanted to try it,” Moore said. “I’ve taken dance lessons to waltz, cha-cha, rumba and swing.”
Moore said she was taken to dance lessons by her mother when she was a little girl. At that time, she took ballet, tap and modern dance. She kept dancing through high school and some college.
However, when she married and had children, Moore got away from dancing to concentrate on raising her family.
As the children grew older and were out on their own, Moore began looking for a hobby and returned to dance.
“Now I do this three to four times a week,” she said. “It is great exercise and it keep your mind sharp learning new dances.”
Moore said she has made many new friends in the community of dancers.
“This really helped my social life,” she said. “I was in a serious accident in August that put me in the hospital for 10 days. My dance friends came to the hospital to support me and to help me recover. There is a real sense of community among dancers.”
Moore has been expanding her dance knowledge through her boyfriend, Richard Bell of Columbiana, who enjoys country music and dancing.
“So I’m learning country, and he is learning ballroom dancing,” she said.
She would love to see more young people participating in ballroom dancing.
Luciano Vrabel of Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Youngstown was there to support the ball.
Susan Ryan, president of USA Dance, promotes the sport of dancing. They created this event in 2004.
“We have kids as young as 15 participating in ballroom dancing,” Ryan said. “We think everyone should dance. We want to keep the sport of dancing alive.”
Nouhad and Bernie Pavlock have owned building for 19 years.
“When we purchased this, we thought it was a warehouse,” Nouhad said. “When we picked up the keys for the building, there were people here dancing. They asked us if we were going to keep it open for dancing.”
“We said sure,” she said.
Now they have billiards and multiple styles of dance classes.
The evening featured dinner and dancing with guest DJ Chris Drum Smooth and dance professionals Evgeniya Zyryanova and Sergei Ivanov from Fred Astaire Studio in Boardman.