When it comes to the ballroom dance racket, the bigger the dance instructor’s swarmy smile, the more expensive their lessons. Small print leads to large risk in dance contracts. Ballroom dance teachers, whether they are in a studio or these con artists at the recreation centers, don’t teach dance, they just teach you to take their dance lessons.
According to Jeff Allen, “Dance studios are still used as a case study to recognize deceptive trade practices. The Internet has become a common ground for sharing viewpoints. As more dancers are tuned in to the electronic age it will become increasingly more difficult for the bad practices of dances studios, no matter how remote or small their marketplace is, to continue without being noticed, as has been the case until now. Dancers of all levels and of experience have begun to share their opinions concerning the various pluses and minuses of the dance studio and teaching business. The Cash Cows are not coming out well in these news group discussions.”
Ballroom dance teachers in the late 1950's, including the Arthur Murray studios, increasingly came under government scrutiny for the shady practices we increasingly see making a comeback. Hundreds of dance customers, then the government, made allegations that quickly escalated. Dance studios, including Arthur Murray, were using “high-pressure sales, bait and switch tactics and long-term contracts involving then shocking sums of money, $12,000 or more as an initial payment for a lifetime contract.” In 1960, the Federal government ordered the Arthur Murray studios to “stop using bogus contests and high-pressure tactics to sell their dance instruction courses.” In 1962, the California Office of the Attorney General began a statewide effort to “stamp out a dancing school racket that reaped many millions of dollars from gullible customers.” In 1976, Governor Carey of New York State signed a bill “providing dance customers with safeguards in dealing with dance schools.”
I read the articles Feasting at the Public Trough, The Dirty Little Secret of Ballroom Dance, and Get All Those Instructors You Can – or Maybe Not. Webster’s Dictionary defines Sportsmanship as “conduct becoming of a person who is fair, generous, a good loser, and a graceful winner.” These ballroom dance instructors are none. It’s not just the male instructors, it’s the females as well. Which is what happened to both my wife and I. The instructors were sneaky, snooty, used flattery, put her knee in my groin, he brushed his hand over my wife’s breast, she pushed her breasts into my chest, he pushed his groin into my wife’s pelvis. Their purported dance lessons were more like immature sexual manipulations to con us into their next condescending dance lesson. Before we moved to Reno, my wife and I lived in Novato, California. When we decided to get married, for our wedding dance we took ballroom dance lessons at the Novato Recreation Department from Jim Olson. Disgusting. After we later moved to Reno, we went once to Never Enough Ballroom. Same obscene story with Mikel and Suzette. Never again.
Jeff Allen, “Fawning and flattery are the hallmarks of con men. One must be cautious not to mistake fawning and flattery for encouragement and honesty. The lines of propriety are crossed when all these compliments and accolades are in fact meant to gain the confidence of the student for purposes of sales or extracting funds for other purposes rather than to represent what is really happening to the student. Dancing is learned by gaining the correct physical feeling, not an emotional one.”
My wife and I hike, walk and bicycle together. We meet a much better class of people that way than we ever did in our brief foray into ballroom dance.