Ballroom Dance > Ballroom and the economy

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

  1. Laura

    Laura New Member

    By the way, I'll point out that some pros out there charge a single flat fee rather than per-dance and/or other fees, either per day or per competition, no matter how many or how few events you enter.
  2. spatten

    spatten Member

    I am all for dance teachers making a nice wage. That would make my desire to leave the engineering world behind for the dance studio much more realistic :)
  3. DancingMommy

    DancingMommy Active Member

    Don't get your hopes up, lol!
  4. Joe

    Joe Well-Known Member

    Laura, did your teacher have a pro partner? If so, did he bill you for travel expenses when he and his partner were doing pro events at a comp?
  5. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Teacher travel expenses seem to be a sticking point for a lot of people. Is that a common scam? Unfair travel charges? :? (Hmm. Scam is a loaded word, but I can't think of any other word to use. Sorry.)
  6. Warren J. Dew

    Warren J. Dew Well-Known Member

    "Practice", maybe - as in, "it's a moderately common practice."

    I have to admit I take a different approach. I don't really care if the teachers are making a lot of money, or whether they are covering more of their overhead from their competition fees than from their lesson charges. I'd rather just look at the final price, and decide based on that whether or not it's worth it to me.
  7. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    *giggle* Yeah. Common practice. That sounds better. :wink: :lol:

    Yeah. I see what you mean. That's what I meant yesterday, when I said that I think, in an ideal world, pro-am teachers should just set their price. Then the students could decide whether they can or want to pay that price.

    But, OTOH, what about the wealthy old ladies who are getting charged $10,000 (a made up, hopefully exaggerated figure) to dance 200 heats with a six-week wonder at a no-name comp? Wouldn't it be nice if there were some safeguards to protect them? $10,000 probably sounds fair and reasonable to them, even though people in the know know it's unreasonable and unfair. (Just being difficult for the sake of furthering the discussion. Nasty habit of mine. Sorry. :wink: :lol: )
  8. Warren J. Dew

    Warren J. Dew Well-Known Member

    Who is to say it's unfair? Heirs who were hoping to inherit the money themselves? (See, two can play at the "difficult" - er, "furthering discussion" - game!)

    Seriously, I don't think the amount is the issue in the "fairness" of the charge. $10,000 for 200 heats is $50 a heat, which is not that unreasonable a price. The question is whether the lady wanted the 200 heats, or whether she was pressured into it.
  9. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    :lol: :lol: :lol: I'm going to leave you at the mercy of DancingMommy. :wink: :lol:
  10. DancingMommy

    DancingMommy Active Member

    Playing devil's advocate, I have a friend in Atlanta - DM knows her slightly, lol. She takes 2 hours of lessons two times per week. She is loaded (old money). Has no kids, never married (not her choice but I digress).

    She once told me that spending that kind of money ($400+/week for lessons) was "a lot, but cheaper than therapy". For her, she gets more out dance lessons than she would from a shrink. More power to her.

    OTOH, for the little old ladies who have been conned into selling their life insurance policies, that's a *different* story all together.
  11. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    And taking out second mortgages, and spending their life savings... I have real stories I could tell, but I won't, in respect for the privacy of some people I know.

    I guess my question is, is there such a thing as a fair price for a comp, do you think? Meaning, does the fact that someone can afford to pay a ridiculous sum make it ethical to charge that much? Just charge whatever your market will bear? Hmm... Isn't that kinda what got ballroom dance in the US the bad name it's still trying to live down?
  12. DancingMommy

    DancingMommy Active Member


    I think that an influx of younger, less affluent people into the ballroom industry will do a few things:

    1. Studios/organisers/powers that be will have to re-org their pricing structure to attract new business - 98 year old cash cows don't live forever.

    2. The more informed a consumer is, the less guff they have to take from a studio/etc. They can negotiate a better rate or move on.

    3. Social dancers will stand up and be counted. They will say the are not going to compete no matter how "fun" and "exciting" it is. They will be validated for who and what they are. Dancers who just want to go out to social events and be comfortable on the dance floor.

    4. Serious competitive dancers will have more of a niche market. There will be events that cater strictly to them, rather than the hobbyist/social/non-serious dancer.

    5. Studios will have to become more aware of who their demographic is. If your area is mainly comprised of social dancers, you don't want to be hawking 35 competitions per year, kwim? Likewise, studios that have a larger proportion of competitive student will cater to their needs - ie not having 4 social parties per week.

    6. Actual certification for instructors will become a necessity in the near future. I think this is due wholely to the scandal factor of the "6 week wonder" syndrome. I wouldn't go see a doctor who had only been out of med school 6 weeks, why would I entrust myself to a dance teacher that way? Same goes for any kind of sports instruction. Tennis, golf, swimming, etc, anyone? Bueller?

    Bear in mind that some of these changes may or may not need to tke place (ie arleady there) in some markets.
  13. spatten

    spatten Member


    In my opinion No.3 and 4 are part of the status quo. I also think they go further towards a problem than a solution.

    If competitions became any more of a niche market - they might just go out of businness altogether.

    What I believe needs to happen in addition to your list is to inspire new and old social dancers alike to become better dancers. Somehow. I also believe the distinction between social and competitive dancing could stand to blur a bit. Then we don't have social dancers mocking the antics of the competitiors, and competitive dancers refusing to dance with social dancers. Unity, dam*it.. There just are enough good dancers to go around.
  14. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    DM. Your posts pack a punch. (Were you a political activist in a former life, I wonder? :roll: :wink: )

    So, as usual, I'm going to think awhile before I reply.

    One thing, though. 98-year-old cash cows don't live forever. Certain studios I could name know that. That's why they spend a lot of time and effort getting their cash cows to refer their cash-cow friends. The approach seems to be get 'em in and get as much money from them as you can, as quickly as possible. Meanwhile, work hard to find more cash cows. That's how they stay in business.

    I hate to say that, since it sounds super negative. But I've seen it. My ex and I used to talk about that all the time. He was itching to use his MBA, so he used to do back-of-the-envelope business proposals for how to restructure the dance business. He was totally baffled by what he saw as the hit and run approach. *shrug*
  15. alemana

    alemana New Member

    i have a question about the pro's fees for pro-am dancing.

    say a pro moves to a new city and doesn't yet have a student base. in order to establish himself, he invites a new student to dance pro-am with him and agrees to forfeit the cost-per-dance/per-event, saying he won't charge for anything other than entry fees and, obviously, the price of lessons leading up to the comp.

    does this sound farfetched as a 'breaking into the biz' strategy?
  16. Larinda McRaven

    Larinda McRaven Site Moderator Staff Member

    Fair Markert Value is......... whatever the market will bear. Period.

    I don't think gasoline is worth what they are charging. I mean it is not new and improved gas over the gas that we were buying 5 years ago. But we all still pay it because we want it, regardless of how they decide what the market value is. You can always opt not to drive if you want.

    I've said it before, I will say it again..... "It is NOT my job to decide how students arrange their finances to pay for services and goods that they wish to purchase. People can buy whatever makes them happy and pay for it however they want. It is not anyones job here to criticize those that remortgage their house or take up an extra job to pay for things they want, or to criticize the salesman for selling it. People go into debt all the time to buy frivolous items, like boats or jewelry. Do you know that it is estimated that the average man spends 6 MONTHS salary on an engagement ring?

    It is very true that "usually" the only people that complain that Granny spent all of her money.... is the grandkids.

    I have spent years dealing with students who nickle and dime me on what I charge for a competition.... and I am rather cheap compared to other pros at my level. But now we have finally all settled in nicely with me saying... "it looks like it will cost around $X, give or take a bit depending on hwho all goes." They either say, "OK I can get the money ready." or they say "Hmmn, I will have just gotten back from a trip to England (or whatever) and that is too much money for me to spend at the moment." I don't ask where the money will come from, they don't ask how much I am charging them to park my car at the garage while I am flying. They enjoy the weekend, I get to make a paycheck, and we all come home happy.
  17. alemana

    alemana New Member

    it sounds like a good strategy, larinda, but what makes it unique is that you are up front about the costs. that is KEY. my sense is that many pros and teachers are themselves uncomfortable talking about money and what they expect to earn, so they are vague about the price. no wonder the student then feels surprised by the fees.

    most teachers also are very willing to bargain/negotiate. i talk my private coaches down on lesson costs regularly - i know what the standard is in ny and i know their rank in their field and i know how experienced they are. if they ask for too much, i bargain. so if teachers display willingness to do this, it shouldn't come as a surprise that comp costs are also seen as 'negotiable.'
  18. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Nope. Somebody taking out a second mortgage or spending their life savings is none of my biz. Absolutely.

    But, having been a recipient and witness of some pretty slimy sales techniques, I have to disagree with the idea that you can't criticize the saleman for selling whatever. Yeah, I can, depending on how the selling is done.

    Reputable dance teachers and studios don't have to rely on slimy sales techniques. The quality of their work does the selling for them.

    There's a whole spectrum of dance teachers and studios out there, Larinda, from the good guys/gals, like you, to the bad guys. I think that's fairly well known. I don't think anyone here is trying to paint the good guys with a bad guy brush. I am, however, acknowledging that there are bad guys out there. Sorry, but I've gotta call a spade a spade. *shrug*
  19. Larinda McRaven

    Larinda McRaven Site Moderator Staff Member

    But just becasue you don't agree with the alleged bad guy doesn't make him a bad guy. His students may love going to comps with him. They make love spending 50K on a trip to the Galapagos Islands (true story). It is not for you to decided that they are wasting their money, or their time taking lessons with someone "you" feel isn't a good teacher.
  20. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Absolutely. People have the right to make their own choices. 8)

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