July – September 2021

January – March 2021

FEATURE STORY

Chicago DanceSport Challenge– The “Happening” Event

Hosting the Senior 2021 Nationals

BY ROSE-ANN LYNCH
Standard dancers Zhen Gang and Marissa Pioso demonstrate fluidity and grace at the 2019 Chicago DanceSport Challenge.
Photo by Alan Burns

I recently read with interest a lovely Chicago Tribune story entitled, “The Splendor and Romance of Chicago Dance-Hall Days.” In this March 2012, article, reporter Ron Grossman captured a moment: “Then across the stillness of a Chicago evening, the throaty sounds of saxophones and the brassy notes of trombones floated in homes of listeners perhaps too old or too young for a night on the town.”  He went on to say, “From the 1920s to the 1960s romance ruled the…ballrooms.” 

Wait…What was that? TOO OLD? Did he say, “TOO OLD”? And the 1920s to the 1960s…what about 2021? The USA Dance Chicago DanceSport Challenge (CDC) is taking that romance right back to the ballroom and the “too old” are ready to hit the dance floor, November 4-7, at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare Chicago. It is going to be a huge event. Why?  Because of the Seniors!! USA Dance Chicago Chapter #2001 agreed to host the 2021 Senior Nationals, which means…Seniors, it is time to put on your shoes and grab your partner. 

Chicago DanceSport Challenge has something for everyone. Here, a formation team performs for the 2019 crowd.
Photo by Tony Eng

The City of Chicago, Illinois has historically been a hot spot for dinner and dancing. It was the “happening place” during the “Roaring 20s” and still boasts its share of swanky night clubs and beautiful hotels. So, it is no surprise that the area supports a successful USA Dance chapter which, in turn, holds one of the most prominent National Qualifying Events (NQE).

“This will be the sixteenth CDC, and we have been an NQE for many years!” said organizer Kelly Batchelor. “It’s a competition that is truly run by athletes, for athletes.”

“CDC has been a fun gathering place for friends from all over the world for many years,” noted Kelly, who dances Championship Senior II Standard with her partner, Alan Burns. However, this is not-just-another year, so, Senior competitors better bring an extra pair of shoes. “We are excited…it’s going to be bigger and crazier than ever, since we are hosting the Senior I-V Nationals and running a FULL NQE toward the 2022 Nationals!”

The large ballroom at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare Chicago is a competition staple.
Photo by Kelly Batchelor

As a reminder, proficiency points have been temporarily halted and no qualifications are required for 2021 Nationals. When Chicago concludes, USA Dance will have Senior National winners in each category, Senior National champions at the championship level, and Senior representatives to World DanceSport Federation events. “Two comps in one for Seniors, and plenty of events for all other age groups,” added Kelly, “including the return of our ever-popular team match!”

Through the years, Chicago’s organizers have successfully swayed and pivoted around unpredictable November weather, and scary holidays – yes, many of us learned how to dance Thriller at this event.

However, running a Nationals’ event, in the wake of a pandemic and amidst dwindling organizational numbers, caused the Chapter to make some tough decisions. “It is never easy to raise prices,” admitted Kelly, but the CDC had grown to a large four-day event with higher cost considerations. “We completely rethought our pricing for this year, in the interests of both fairness and sustainability. The last thing we want to do is price college students out of competing…We decided the only fair way to price the competition is to charge for a competitor’s actual floor time.

“Two comps in one for Seniors, and plenty of events for all other age groups,” said organizer Kelly Batchelor, “including the return of our ever-popular team match!”
Photo by Tony Eng

Each dancer will pay a low, one-time admission fee, plus additional per-event fees. This is instead of USA Dance’s routine one-price-pays-all model. “If our participation is like recent years, this model should pay for the competition, leaving the chapter’s bank account relatively stable to support future competitions.” added Kelly.  

It should be noted that Chicago is the only chapter-organized competition to be taking on a Nationals this year, and that they are taking on the biggest piece with the Senior Division. If you are wondering how they are doing it, it is a matter of the right people assigned to the right tasks.

“Planning a Nationals’ event is very challenging, but with the help of all our amazing friends from near and far, it will be rewarding in the end!” explained Kelly. “We are certainly learning again what a wonderful family we have in the dance community and how much we all depend on each other for support and ideas. Our volunteers are not just from our chapter, but around the country and beyond United States’ borders.”  The Chicago Team is accepting volunteers for all roles at the competition, she added, “Please contact me if you are interested.”

Chicago DanceSport Challenge is the only chapter-organized competition to be taking on a Nationals this year, and they are taking on the biggest piece -- the Senior Division.
Photo by Kelly Batchelor

They are also capitalizing on a solid venue. The Hyatt Regency O’Hare Chicago is and has been the site of the NQE for many years. The four-star hotel, proximate to the airport, has a large ballroom with plenty of extra room for multiple vendors, changing rooms, registration, a large practice floor, fabulous buffet dining, and a bar that stays open even after late events. It is a staple for the competition and a fabulous site for the dancers each year.

So, if you ARE, or ARE NOT, “TOO OLD”, and enjoy numbered tail suits, sleek Latin shirts, beautiful gowns, flashy skirts, legs that don’t stop, and stalwart judges…Chicago is the place to go in November, and the CDC is the “happening” event. Register now: chicagodancesportchallenge.org

Final note from Kelly: “We can’t wait to see everyone in Chicago, November 4-7!!”

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