Ballroom and the economy

Discussion in 'Ballroom Dance' started by pygmalion, Apr 20, 2005.

  1. gte692h

    gte692h Member

    nice topic, pygmalion. i like discussing social sciences !

    i agree with larinda's comments. general uncertainty about the economy usually makes people start saving money, and cutting down on non-essential expenses. I have been in this situation since Jan 2004, where I've been watching every dime of my money ;)
    ironically though, my dancing never suffered. of course, i stopped going to classes, but i became really resourceful - I'd go to clubs early before they'd charge cover, and try get free lessons at the clubs, whenever possible. And I sweet-talked my instructor into letting me attend her beginner classes for free. she liked me, so she agreed ;)

    If I was a regular competitor, I would definitely have stopped going to competitions. That being said, there could be many reasons why this particular competition fell through.
  2. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Yeah. The attendance was low last year, and I suspect the organizers didn't think it'd be worth their while, this year. Oh well. Maybe next year. :?
  3. kansas49er

    kansas49er New Member

    I am not a ballroom dancer, so perhaps I'm not really able to say, but I think it has to do more with demograhics, oversaturation, and moving fads than anything else. I am more into the WCS world. Good comptition venues still attract good crowds. However, there are more and more venues, COmpeting for the same crowds. Only the better ones survive. THe others have lessor competitors, attracting less crowds, and the downward spiral begins. Also, there is a natural rythm to things. As one generation moves on, another will find the way. But serious dancing not only takes serious money, but serious time. That is the shortage these days. People feel fried with their schedule. Elimination of the least painful to lose takes place. Children come into play, or bad health. Or new dance styles, or whatever. THings come and go, it is a natural cycle.
    As to the economy, cruises are not for the "luxury class" anymore. They are full of families, and machinists, and teachers, and all the rest. The cruise lines intentionally market to these people. WHy? Because there are so many of them! Less profit margin, but huge profits. I do think it is a sign of the general economy. I do not generally accept the gloom and doom painted by the media. WHy? because so many high priced hobbies are doing more business than ever. Paint ball, game consoles like X BOX and the others, Cell phones, 4wd vehicles that never leave payment, the list goes on and on and on. In addition, I work for an aircraft manufacturer. THe ups and downs follow the generally economy about 6 mos to a year. We have our entire 2005 production sold out, 95% of our 2006 production sold out, and good numbers everywhere. Even in the single engine aircraft , driven by personal buyers and not corporate buyers. THe overall economy is GOOD!
  4. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    I agree. The overall economy is a lot, lot better.

    I suspect ballroom is a bit different than WCS because it's more capital-intensive, from a student perspective. So, in an economic downturn, it gets hit harder. At least, that's what I see. Others may disagree. *shrug*
  5. mamboqueen

    mamboqueen Well-Known Member

    Well, for my husband and I, it's more of the "everything is rising except our salaries" mentality. Gas is at a ridiculous price and expected to go higher, which then in turn, raises prices of just about everything else that is shipped or transported. Put it this way, no expense of ours has gone down over time. So, we're working with the same amount of money (actually less, because I've been unemployed since November), but have less disposable income because of the cost of things just keep sgoing up.

    So, it will end up meaning less competitions for me for the time being anyway, which is fine. I'm stepping up the level of partner scouting so I can hope to cut my dance expenses as well.
  6. kansas49er

    kansas49er New Member

    From what I have seen on this forum, which s really my only exposure to ballroom, I would have to agree withe the WCS vs ballrom costs . I simply cannot believe the cost of a competition gown. Man, am I glad my wife isn't interested in ballroom. WOW! I still think, though, it is a matter of time and interests vss money. for instance, while it gauls me to no end, I am paying someone to mow my lawn. Not because I am flush with cash, but because I am so poor in time. :cry:
  7. spatten

    spatten New Member

    You may very well be right about this - I have never been on a cruise. I do know they don't advertise to singles. The one time I had an extra 8,000$ in my life for a nice Mediterranean Cruise I was told that singles had to pay 2x the cost. But I digress..

    Yup. The inflaction numbers - core numbers of the consumer price index rose pretty bad last report. It could get worse...
  8. DancingMommy

    DancingMommy Active Member

    There are cruises starting at UNDER $500 per person/double occupancy, so they really are doable for the so called "middle class" now. It's cheaper for us to take a week-long cruise than to go visit my in-laws. :shock:

    I think we can cruise for $2500 for all four of us for one week, but JUST THE AIRLINE TIX to Indonesia are +/-$4000 (economy class). If we flew business class, we're looking at well over $10,000. Don't ask about first class.... Last I checked it was in the $30,000 range for 4 people (2 adults, 2 kids) to fly to Jakarta from NYC. It's all a matter of perspective.
  9. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    LOL. A family trip to Indonesia is not exactly a typical American vacation. But yeah, I agree. There are tons of reasonably priced cruises out there -- my sister and her family take one every year, since it works out much cheaper than any other family vacation for the five of them. But yes, there are also ultra-luxurious cruises out there. So everybody's right. I love it when that happens. :wink: :lol:


    And back to ballroom dance. Are there any signs of a rebound in the dance industry economy? Or are things still lean in 2005? Anybody?
  10. chrisjohnston

    chrisjohnston Well-Known Member

    At Supershag we have seen a growth in volume since last year in lessons.We have not done any big comps as a studio this year but we expect to increase our participation at Ohio in 2005(in 2004 we took 49 students to Ohio.)Like all business in the States I believe that the dance industry has to improve its product and look at its cost structure.At our parties numbers are up and the social night that we host at Ryles jazz club is very steady.I can remember reading a study in Europe in the 1990s that said that ballroom dancing usually experienced a surge during a depression as it was a safe thing to do and reminded people of old fashioned values.Of course this was social and not competitive ballroom dancing. Cheers Chris
  11. chachachacat

    chachachacat Well-Known Member

    Throughout the 90's, I attended many competitions, danced many student/teacher comps, and there was an obvious slow-down related to the economy. These were all NDCA comps, mostly major ones. So, from what I've seen, the comps are affected by the economy.
  12. DancingMommy

    DancingMommy Active Member

    I'm going to add my $.03....

    I'm willing to bet that the economy is not as much a factor as is the informed consumer.

    When I took my first ballroom lesson in 1997, it was a pretty closed community. You knew there had to be a way in to get to the competitions you saw on PBS, but the only well advertised way was the franchise studio or an independent studio (if such a thing existed in your area).

    GOOD instruction was pretty hit or miss for the same reason above. Once you got into the "scene" and went to a comp or two, you saw that there was indeed a whole big new world out there and that your pond was linked to other ponds.

    Getting to a competition was a pretty closed up thing, too. Almost 10 years ago (yikes) not many people had websites/blogs/etc. Maybe the last 5 years has seen the intense growth of ballroom dance on the internet. I can remember in 1997 that there ware maybe 5 or 6 maintained websites....

    Aria's dance page, Back Bay Dancewear, Dancerdesigns.net (Shirley Massey's site), ProDance and DanceScape. Most websites were static and not updated very frequently.

    NOW, information travels faster than wildfire. Look at this community! We have SO much information sharing happening, that it is inevitable that the more nefarious teachers/studios would be outed and the lesser grade competitions fall by the wayside. I wouldn't blame the economy necessarily for that.

    I bet if you googled "Ballroom dance", you'd get about a billion hits worldwide. Well.... Not a billion, but more like Results 1 - 10 of about 2,040,000 for ballroom dance. Throw DanceSport into the mix for Results 1 - 10 of about 454,000 for DanceSport. and Results 1 - 10 of about 11,700,000 for Dance Sport. Sure there are some repeats, but I daresay that 8-10 years ago, you might have gotten 100 results, not in the 10s of millions....

    So what happens when comsumers get educated AND the economy has a temporary downturn? Survival of the fittest my friends. Natural selection. But I think it would have happened EVEN if the economy had stayed stable. Once a consumer finds out they have been bilked, they get super agressive about making sure it never happens again.
  13. mamboqueen

    mamboqueen Well-Known Member

    Couldn't agree more, DM! Remember in the late 80's/early 90's when the economy was in the tank??? I went from doing real estate closings to doing foreclosures (yes, a miserable part of the job). Well, the retailers started having sales ALL the time. You never paid full price for anything. And to this day, 99% of the time, I still won't pay full price. Why should I? I got used to those big markdowns and discovered that the retailers had a "system" in place and they were still staying in business with those big markdowns.
  14. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    True. Absolutely true, DM. You're right. It is a logical fallacy to assume that the economy faltered and comps started dimishing, therefore the economy caused the comps to fail. You're right. There could be multiple causes.

    I have to wonder, though. Any question like this most likely has a pretty complicated answer.

    I wonder how many of your typical ballroom dance folks are out there, actively participating in (or lurking in) online discussion forums like these. Many, I'm sure. But how many? I pulled US Census Bureau statistics for computer and internet presence in households, but couldn't find anything on discussion forums. So, even though the information is much more readily available, is it really safe to assume that people, in great number, are out there, actively seeking the information, then deserting expensive comps in large number because of the information they've found? Hmm. I don't know.

    Also, people themselves, in this thread, and in some of our personal experiences, are saying that it's the economy that's influencing their choices.

    And, if your theory that people are seeking a less expensive option were totally true, then less expensive comps, such as USA Dance and collegiate comps, should have seen an increase in participation, as people deserted more expensive comps and looked for a better value, during the economic downturn. (Edit: Or at least the bigger, better "quality" comps, such as OSB and others, should have at least held steady.) Did that happen? I don't know, since I'm not plugged into that circuit. Maybe someone here can say. Laura or Chris probably knows the answer better than I ever will. :wink: :lol:

    The other thing is that, as we've discussed in other threads, there is a significant percentage of the dance community -- teachers, comps, etc, that are just now becoming web-savvy. Maybe, in the future, as more and more studios and comps get online in a usable way, it'll become easier to become an informed consumer. At the moment, at least some of it's still the luck of the draw, I think.

    There's more I could say, but won't. I'll let somebody else get their two cents in, this time. :wink: :lol: 8)
  15. DancingMommy

    DancingMommy Active Member

    The other thing to note is that although many folks can find the info online, even then it can sometimes lead to a dead end/closed community. I'd never even *heard* of the collegiate circuit until a few weeks ago HERE. I've been involved in ballroom dance since 19frigging97. It took ME 8 years....

    What I'm saying is that communities have their networks - a grapevine if you will...... That grapevine is becoming more digital and less analog...
  16. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Yeah. It sucks that the information isn't more available. But I can say that going online for info has changed my dance life, saved me money, and helped me completely re-formulate my goals.

    That's part of the reason I've spent so darn much time in DF, telling what little I know about how things really work. If I can help one person not have the negative experiences I've had, it'll be worth all the time I've spent. 8)
  17. ChaChaMama

    ChaChaMama Well-Known Member

    A few thoughts on this topic:

    1) When you look at NDCA comps, there are almost always at least a handful students who have entered quite a high number of heats (say, 50+). Upper-income America has, on the whole, done pretty well under the current administration, which I think insulates the ballroom industry somewhat from the economic downturn. These high-end customers pump a fair amount of money into comps. So even if the total number of competitors remains stagnant or drops slightly, if the high yield customer keeps coming, the competition should still manage to do okay. (I personally would rather be at a competition with lots of competitors dancing fewer events, but we're talking economics, not my preferences!)

    2) The ballroom industry has clearly picked the economic model that is pretty much the opposite of the Carnival Cruise model referenced earlier. Carnival aims to be a cruise line that middle-class America can afford. :) (It is the "fun ship cruise!" Anyone other than me remember those annoyingly catchy commercials with Kathie Lee Gifford bopping around the ship? But I digress....) Public school teachers, secretaries, and blue collar workers can afford Carnival cruises. Carnival is going for VOLUME, not a high price per customer. Conversely, some cruise lines market to upper-income customers who are looking for sophistication, elegance, something beyond the ordinary. The four-month Cunard Queen Elizabeth II World Cruise customer is not the same person as the three-day Carnival cruise customer.

    I believe that the ballroom industry on the whole caters to the upper-middle class. If the ballroom industry were looking to MAXIMIZE attendance at competitions, it would drop the price of spectator tickets for daytime events to, say, $10 a ticket and advertise widely near local ballet schools, trying to draw in young girls who are already interested in dance. At $25 a ticket (a fairly typical daytime price), most Moms aren't going to take their 10-year-old to watch an hour or two of ballroom dancing. At $10 a ticket, it might seem more enticing.

    Similarly, if the industry wanted to reach out to more middle-middle and lower-middle income people, it would lower the per heat cost. Let's say the average cost per single-dance event is $30, and takes 2 minutes. That means that if you danced 30 events (~1 hour of competition fun), you would have spent $900. Now, maybe a comp couldn't realistically run 30 events in an hour because people do have to get on and off the floor, so maybe 20 events in an hour is more realistic. Fine, that's still a $600 hour. You could practically go on that Carnival cruise for that kind of money! I don't see a lot of people with a household income of $43,000/year (median U.S. household income) dropping that kind of dough on competitions. (And that's before you even get into hotel, ballroom entry fees, costuming, etc.)

    Some food for thought. My sister, whose professional field is sports and entertainment marketing (works for Radio City Music Hall/Madison Square Garden), was pretty surprised by the ballroom model.

    :) ChaChaMama
  18. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Yep. What you say makes a lot of sense. The ballroom model in the US is pretty contorted, and based on appealing to a very narrow demographic, IMHO.

    It's so funny. Back when I was attending a former studio, several of the students tried to get the manager to set up a website. She took the feedback that more advertising was needed. But she said she didn't need a website. She put print ads in a local golf enthusiast magazine instead. She knew her market. *shrug*
  19. Warren J. Dew

    Warren J. Dew Well-Known Member

    A couple of comments here:

    NDCA competitions are actually much cheaper than the "private" competitions run by Arthur Murray and Fred Astaire. I'd bet they are considerably cheaper than a Carnival Cruise Line cruise for most people who go, and significantly more rewarding. Yes, there are a few people who have lots of money and overdo things, though I'd bet most of them made the money during previous administrations, for example during the internet bubble, when lots of people lost money but a few hit the jackpot.

    In the Northeast, attendance at NDCA competitions tanked after 9/11/2001. Some competitions cancelled, which means they have to pay a lot of cancellation fees with no income at all, while others went ahead and ran, but were heavily criticized by many for engaging in "frivolous" activities during a "serious" time period. I'd guess that some of the people doing the criticism reevaluated their own participation in competition dance and dropped out.

    Chris' point about the association between economic downturns and an increase in interest in ballroom is a good one. Traditionally, entertainment does well in downturns. However, I also agree with him that what would do well would be socially oriented dancing that didn't require a huge amount of commitment, rather than competition dancing.
  20. Laura

    Laura New Member

    True, but as a side note, let me point out that Cunard is owned by Carnival. So, Carnival will make money from both.

    Carnival owns:
    Cunard
    Princess
    Windstar
    Holland America
    Seabourn
    Costa

    This represents a wide sprectrum from the mid-priced mass market (Carnival, Costa) to the so-called premium market (Holland America) to the true luxury market (Seabourn) and of course one of the most famous and traditional lines of all (Cunard).

    While on the subject, I'll mention that Royal Caribbean also owns Celebrity and Island Cruises. Not sure who else RC owns.

    I just got back from a Celebrity cruise so I've got cruising on the brain!

    I agree. Also, "dance team" type schools where the girls do that kind of jazz/modern dancing in choreographed routines and go to competitions would be a good place to look for future ballroom dancers.

    Maybe someone needs to sit down and actually work out a model for ballroom in the US :)

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