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Magazine » USA DANCE 50th ANNIVERSARY (1965-2015)

USA DANCE 50th ANNIVERSARY (1965-2015)

American Dancer


Historians have called the 1960s a turning point in American history. It was often a tumultuous time and historical events during the decade redefined people's lives, from the War in Vietnam, the Civil Rights and Women's Movement and the assassination of President John F. Kennedy to the first U.S. space walk, the Beatles invasion and the start of Social Security benefits.

It was during this decade that USA Dance found its humble beginning as the United States Amateur Ballroom Dancers Association (USABDA). The year was 1965 and the USABDA leadership believed that competitive ballroom dancing (today referred to as DanceSport) could one day become an Olympic sport. Although the Olympic dream was the founding mission, the leaders also believed that ballroom dancers – whether social or competitive – and a network of social dance chapters could make a measurable difference in people's lives and their communities.

Fifty years later in 2015, USA Dance recognizes the dedicated leaders and volunteers who have made this 501c3 charitable organization what it is today. The USA Dance 50th Anniversary is a time of great celebration. And chapters have every opportunity to promote their programs, grow their membership and create the support alliances they need for continued success in their communities.

Happy National Ballroom Dance Year. The celebration starts now!


By Archie Hazelwood, Past President, USABDA [now USA Dance, Inc.]

USABDA worked on defining the dancing guidelines and needs to be considered in developing the Bylaws, the American Style competitors and a vast number of serious and dedicated Social Dancers suddenly came into view. The resultant Bylaws of USABDA addressed three very important areas of association – the International Style competitors, the American Style competitors and the Social dancers.

Those early-on plans of USABDA, while helping the competitors to compete nationally and internationally, also helped set the stage for the availability of floors, music and venue for the Social dancers which then were and still are, the backbone and strength of USABDA.

During its early years USDABDA consisted primarily of a small number of members in the greater New York area, a few in the Washington, DC section of the country, plus a small number on the West Coast. In 1978, the MidEastern Chapter was formed and actions were initiated to take USABDA into other parts of the country and to commence creating a national organization. National elections were held in 1979 and the next few years saw the beginning of the present organization, with chapters being formed in several states.

During the 1980s efforts were made to bring all other amateur ballroom dance organizations into USABDA. In 1985, USABDA reorganized and was granted tax-exempt status by the Internal Revenue Service.

New Bylaws were formulated providing for a national organization with a regional and chapter structure. In 1987, a unification election was held that brought all amateurs into one national organization which then was recognized by the international world governing body, now known as the International DanceSport Federation (IDSF). Since then USABDA has functioned as the national governing body for all forms of amateur ballroom dancing in the United States.

USABDA organizes and supports educational programs among the public about the healthful aspects of recreational ballroom dancing and DanceSport, the competitive form of ballroom dancing. These programs emphasize the physical, mental and social benefits of dancing, and include the expansion of dancing skills among those of all ages and capabilities.

During the last 12 years, USABDA focused on promoting the growth of all styles and forms of ballroom dancing, both competitive and recreational social dancing. This included a program to establish a network of chapters in each state. These efforts were very successful with major growth each year in the number of dancers, chapters and related activities such as competitions, workshops and social dances. Much labor and resources were devoted to promoting ballroom dance and DanceSport in colleges and secondary schools, a long term project that will extend over many years.

The last few years produced significant progress in DanceSport's journey into the Olympics. In 1997 the IDSF was granted full recognition by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) as the world-wide governing body for DanceSport. Then in 1999, the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) granted Affiliate membership to USABDA, including recognition as the National Governing Body of DanceSport in the United States. The next step in DanceSport's journey into the Olympics will be for the IOC to grant Program Status to DanceSport. That's when DanceSport will be added to the Olympic Program. It is our hope that this will occur soon.

Annually, USABDA conducts national, regional and local DanceSport Championships. National DanceSport Champions are selected and USABDA then finances their participation in the IDSF** World DanceSport Championships. United States representatives also are sent to the World Games which are held for Olympic recognized sports that are not yet in the Olympic Program.

In 1999 a separate division was established to promote and guide the growth of social ballroom dancing in the United States. The goal is to promote social dancing as a healthful lifetime recreational activity, with progression to competitions encouraged for those who are so inclined.

Also in 1999, the Youth College Network was restructured and the staff of volunteers was greatly expanded to provide a promotional and management organization that will be capable of meeting the immense challenge of taking social ballroom dancing and DanceSport into every college and secondary school in this nation. That is one of USABDA'S major goals for the next decade. It is the foundation of USABDA's program to create here in the United States a pool of world class DanceSport Athletes that will dominate the international world of dance in the years ahead.

The project to gain for DanceSport full status as an Olympic Program Sport will continue. However the main focus of USABDA activities will be on actions to enable members to achieve their dance goals and to grow the sport, regardless of what may happen some day regarding the Olympics."

As Archie Hazlewood summarized: "USABDA [now known as USA Dance] has developed into a nationwide nonprofit organization of thousands of volunteers, who love ballroom dancing and appreciate the excitement and romance, as well as the social and health benefits, that ballroom dancing brings into their lives. At grass roots level in communities, colleges and secondary schools all over the country USABDA provides opportunities for the public to engage in affordable ballroom dancing and DanceSport. Beginners are welcomed, helped to get started and then assisted in achieving their goals. USABDA's goal is for everyone to ballroom dance."

* USABDA changed name to USA Dance, Inc. in 2005.
** The IDSF (International DanceSport Federation) changed name to WDSF (World DanceSport Federation) in 2011.

The late Archie Hazelwood, serving then as president of USABDA*, was a tireless leader and visionary in support of amateur and social dancing in America. In 1999, his chronicle of USABDA history attests to the tremendous foundation of work accomplished in USA Dance's first 35 years and brings into perspective, the prevailing mission of USA Dance especially as USA Dance begins its Next 50 Years.


Resource: World DanceSport Federation

On Monday, Dec. 8, the full membership of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) unanimously approved the 40 recommendations that make up Olympic Agenda 2020, a strategic roadmap for the future of the Olympic Movement, at the 127th IOC Session in Monaco.

The recommendation # 6 describes the closer ties that will be established between the IOC and the International World Games Association (IWGA). The two organizations shall "… closely cooperate regarding the sports program composition and their respective evaluations."

The recommendation will affect the development of The World Games, the multi-sport event that was already held under the patronage of the IOC, in a most positive way. Commenting on the approval of the Agenda 2020, IWGA President and IOC Member José Perurena described the impact on the games and its sports.

"This decision enhances tremendously the status of The World Games," Perurena said. "Working in cooperation with the IOC is essential for us to raise the level of competition and organization of our Games.

"We want to demonstrate that our sports are on the same level as the Olympic sports and we aim to deliver superb Games," he added.

To get this message across visually, IWGA selected a photograph of the DanceSport competition at The World Games 2013 in Cali, Colombia. In 2013, USA Dance sent three DanceSport couples to Cali to represent the USA in Standard, Latin and Salsa. The World Games DanceSport was held in a historic bullfighting arena, where 30,000 fans cheered the best of DanceSport in action.