July – September 2021

January – March 2021

COVER STORY

One More Reason to Visit Paradise!

USA Dance Honolulu Chapter #4007

STORY AND PHOTOS BY RAVI NARAYAN - CHAPTER PRESIDENT
Honolulu Chapter members perform a flash mob on Waikiki Beach.

To many, Waikiki, on the island of Oahu, sounds like a paradise vacation. It is famous for its beaches and hotels. But did you know it is also home to one of the largest ballrooms in the United States? The Palladium, officially known as the Ala Wai Golf Course Multi-Purpose Recreation Facility, is located on the second level of the Ala Wai Golf Course Clubhouse, a mere 10-minute walk from Waikiki Beach.

The Palladium features an 11,000-square-foot eucalyptus-wood dance floor. Every night and all day on the weekends, the numerous ballroom clubs on the island of Oahu, consisting of several thousand ballroom dance members, take turns using it for social dances, exhibitions, lessons, and workshops. It is not unusual to see several hundred dancers on the floor when there is a special event. Also, on Mondays through Thursdays, from noon to 3 p.m., the City and County of Honolulu sponsor free recreational ballroom dancing for the health and wellness of their senior citizens. 

The Palladium, which is administered by the Departments of Parks and Recreation, was created with the support of the dance community in 1990. The main sponsors were Hawaii Ballroom Dance Association, Pan Pacific Ballroom Dance Society, and the United States Amateur Ballroom Dancers Association (now USA Dance). Although the bronze plaque on the wall recognizes the founding of the Palladium in 1990 as a dance facility, it is not unusual to see fencing, bridge tournaments, and even an occasional cat show held at this facility.

Members of the Honolulu Chapter hold an annual mock competition at the huge Palladium Ballroom.

USA Dance Honolulu Chapter #4007 was formed around the same time the Palladium was built and has been using this glorious ballroom as our home for hosting monthly dances and workshops. Our dances were initially based on the International Latin and Standard styles, which are preferred among our social dancers.  However, more recently we have done our best to incorporate American  styles as well.

Even though there are over a dozen other non-profit ballroom dance clubs on the island, USA Dance is the only club that offers a K-12 program, with weekly classes held at the ballroom. We are also exploring the formation of a college program with the University of Hawaii.  However, that endeavor slowed down due to the pandemic.

Experiencing the wisdom of the late Ron Montez!

USA Dance is also the only island dance organization that fosters competitive dancers. We currently have about ten competitive amateur couples across all four dance styles. These dedicated couples mostly train locally and with visiting coaches and must travel 5,000-10,000 miles to the mainland to compete. However, once a year, the Palladium becomes the site of a mock competition, when the competitive dancers don their best garb with all the accoutrements and take to the floor. They sometimes wear “fake” numbers so the spectators can cheer for their favorites.  But…there are no judges…we don’t want the pressure! If any dancers from the mainland are interested in joining us for these or any other events, they are certainly welcome, but they need to know that our dancers are serious about their dancing. That is why USA Dance monthly parties include only short exhibitions, and events like the mock competition only happen once a year. The local crowd wants to dance. They will watch a little, but not too long…they want to get onto the floor! 

Due to COVID, since March 2020, the City of Honolulu temporarily closed this facility and social ballroom dancing has almost come to a grinding halt on the islands. We hope to restart activities as soon as the facility reopens. If you are in Honolulu, check out our beautiful facility or email usadancehonolulu@gmail.com to inquire about our next event.

The contributor

Ravi Narayan works as a Software Engineer in Honolulu and is also an Adjunct Faculty of Computer Science at the University of Hawaii.  He competes with his wife Synthia and daughter Prita in all four styles of ballroom dance. Ravi was the 2018 USA Dance Volunteer of the Year.

Like this page? Share it with your friends.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on email