Ballroom Dance > Will ballroom studios close after the baby boomer gen pass on?

Discussion in 'Ballroom Dance' started by Franz Jostopovich, Nov 27, 2013.

  1. I noticed the majority of clientele at most studios are around age 50+. The young competitors don't seem to go to group classes or ballroom social dances, presumably to avoid bad habits. Touch dancing for youth/young adults in clubs seems to have ended when disco faded around 1980. Before that there was swing & such that the kids liked. Now those generations make up the major student body in ballroom dance studios, because they grew up with it. Older generations also seem to be the main audience for dancing with the stars, it's often referred to as grandma's show, unlike so you think you can dance.

    Sure there's the lindy hop & west coast subcultures, but that's about it for many under 50 crowds. But that's a small niche compared to salsa, hip hop & general freestyle that most clubs are comprised of.

    I'm not trying to put anyone down & admittedly, some of this may be generalizing. Do you think there's a correlation between the current older generations interest? Or that lack of enthusiasm from the generations of the past 30 years & forward will lead to a repercussive & bleak future for ballroom studios. Looking at the big picture from a general outside perspective, not as enthusiasts ourselves within the "ballroom community".
  2. Groovology

    Groovology New Member

    I can't speak for other regions, but there is a pretty thriving collegiate scene in the DMV at least. I don't really see why that trend shouldn't continue into the future for at least a little bit. That said, it is very true that a lot of us college students aren't big partakers of studio group classes. We seem to either learn through coaches who come visit our schools specifically or via private lessons on our own time.

    Maybe the studios will see a slight dip in clientele, but I doubt they'll close down for good as long as people keep up dancing after they graduate from college. I know I at least plan to.
  3. cornutt

    cornutt Well-Known Member

    At least half of the current clientele at the studio I frequent is under 30.
    Sania likes this.
  4. dbk

    dbk Well-Known Member

    There's a ton of collegiate am/am and college/post-college aged pro/am dancers in the NE, specifically centered around NY and Boston. I think the "sport" aspect is pushing popularity.
  5. bia

    bia Well-Known Member

    I'd contest this part of your reasoning. It seems to me that a lot of the 50+ dancers I know had never done much in the way of partner dancing before taking it up relatively recently. Disco notwithstanding, I'd think that the generation that grew up in the '50s/very early '60s was the last in which partner dancing was the normal way to dance for the majority of young people. (I'm open to correction on this point from people who were there.) It's true that most ballroom studios don't have lots of people in their 30s and 40s -- those are prime career-building and young-child-raising times. And if you want to dance as a couple, you can't trade off evening childcare with your spouse like you can for activities you do separately. But the studios should be fine as long as some of the collegiate dancers keep it up, other collegiate dancers come back to it later, and still more people discover it for the first time when their life schedules allow it. I think that's what's happening now; if so, I don't see why it wouldn't be sustainable.
    danceronice and mjnemeth like this.
  6. snapdancer

    snapdancer Well-Known Member

    I think that there's a significant influx of people who've turned into empty nesters, or gotten divorced, and want to get out and do some playing while they still can.
  7. Dancing Irishman

    Dancing Irishman Well-Known Member

    I think the age for socials you're seeing has more to do with who has the disposable income and time to pick up dance as just a hobby (as opposed to the catharsis/obsession/creative outlet/learning challenge that it is for me and I'm assuming many other younger ex collegiate dancers), the assumption being that social dancing appeals more to hobby dancers than it does to competitively focused dancers. It also could be a function of what at one point became the dominant age of the group continuing to be so as people self identify with the group or not (if only one or two twenty or thirty something's try out a particular social at a time, they might stop going before more younger dancers try it out because it doesn't feel like it's their "scene").

    P.s. I don't mean to diminish in any way the worthiness of dance as a hobby...I think it's awesome! But, hobby dancers are a lot less likely to make sacrifices monetarily/socially to keep dance in their life compared to the dance obsessed.
    suburbaknght likes this.
  8. mjnemeth

    mjnemeth Member

    >'50s/very early '60s was the last in which partner dancing was the normal way to dance

    Since Im of that generation , I have to agree . We grew up seeing partner dance at family event and party. Also I remember learning
    box step, Waltz and swing in the CLASSROOM; gym was for square dancing.
  9. DerekWeb

    DerekWeb Well-Known Member

    Children will continue to leave the home for university and jobs. Empty nesters will continue to find newly freed time for new activities. Ballroom dancing will continue.
    Loki likes this.
  10. Dancer4Life2

    Dancer4Life2 New Member

    I agree with DerekWeb. I have a ballroom Dance Studio and the most of my clientele is 30yrs old, even younger! Great atmosphere!
    Everyone loves dance!
  11. snapdancer

    snapdancer Well-Known Member

    What you say about your studio doesn't agree with DerekWeb's point. Empty nesters are about 40 years old on the young end. And in the future will be older with more people delaying having children.
  12. FancyFeet

    FancyFeet Well-Known Member

    We have a small 50+ crowd at the studio I frequent, though they are the group that is most often out en masse for socials.

    Group classes are dominated by either youth (huge kids and teen programs) or working folks in their 30s and 40s.

    Private lessons are taken equally by all three groups.

    All in all, we seem to have a wide range and healthy mix of ages.
  13. Partner Dancer

    Partner Dancer Well-Known Member

    The ballroom industry will have to downsize, either as a natural course of business/fad cycles or more permanently. The economic climate contributes to the cyclic or permanent downturn, as ballroom is probably the most expensive of the partner dance options people have. The un-cooperative way many independent ballroom studios run will also contribute to their longer-term viability, as opposed to the chain studios that have centralized cohesive agenda, which reinforces participation.
  14. Partner Dancer

    Partner Dancer Well-Known Member

    Note how Harley Davidson and Mercedes are all introducing "low end" models for business survivability, reflecting the new purchasing power of the general populous. Ballroom dancing is the Harley and Mercedes of partner dancing.
  15. Warren J. Dew

    Warren J. Dew Well-Known Member

    The title of this thread seems to me ironic, since in many ways partner dancing reached its nadir with the baby boom generation - most grew up after swing had given way to the twist, but before partner dancing came back with disco.
    Sania likes this.
  16. debmc

    debmc Well-Known Member

    I don't think age has much to do with the popularity of ballroom dancing. The ballroom boom, both for social dancing and competitive, seemed to occur after the release of popular TV shows and movies featuring ballroom dancing.
    jump'n'jive likes this.
  17. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    I like this bit I found at the History Channel web site.

    Almost exactly nine months after World War II ended, “the cry of the baby was heard across the land,” as historian Landon Jones later described the trend. More babies were born in 1946 than ever before: 3.4 million, 20 percent more than in 1945. This was the beginning of the so-called “baby boom.” In 1947, another 3.8 million babies were born; 3.9 million were born in 1952; and more than 4 million were born every year from 1954 until 1964, when the boom finally tapered off. By then, there were 76.4 million “baby boomers” in the United States. They made up almost 40 percent of the nation’s population.

    The term "Baby Boomer" covers a period of nearly two decades. My understanding of a "generation" was that there was a new one about every 10 years, not 20. Someone born in 1946 wouldn't have a whole lot in common with someone born in 1964.

    Anyhow, dance was once part of "gym class" in grade school, or available as a course to fullfill Physical Education requirements in college. Dance was most often taught by the PE department, and there are dance books written by professors of physical education.

    It ain't "ballroom," but there are lots of young people dancing at country western places, more so that older folks at this point.
    I can't figure out where they're coming from!
  18. jump'n'jive

    jump'n'jive Well-Known Member

    Mercedes isn't introducing a entry level car to survive. They are a brilliant company that sells autos from 29k-250k and doesn't have a problem moving any of them. The shift from big bodies to more gas efficient has caused Merc to bring the likes of the cla to the market.
  19. cornutt

    cornutt Well-Known Member

    To add to what Bia said, I grew up in the '70s. Partner dancing was very out of fashion then; I don't recall ever seeing any other than teenage "slow dancing". Ballroom was something old people did.
  20. Partner Dancer

    Partner Dancer Well-Known Member

    Car owners who can truly afford prestige can afford $2K more for gas a year. Mercedes is smart, in that it recognized that this segment is dwindling, just like the (higher-end) middle class...

    If the economy were good, Hummers would still be in business.

    The ballroom industry unfortunately still depends on the handful of customers who can afford and are willing to pay $$$ in a shrinking dance community where the baby boomers now need to worry about affording retirement and the X-generation can't find jobs or are working near minimal-wage.

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