For the 54th year, UBC Dance Club will play host to the Gala Ball over the March 5 weekend, welcoming over 230 ballroom dancers to the Great Hall for the first time in the history of the Nest.
Started in the early 1960s, the Gala Ball is a time-honoured tradition at UBC and has a rich history in the dancesport community of Vancouver. Originally held in the old SUB ballroom when it first began, the gala has taken place in some of the most prestigious venues in the city, including the Vancouver Trade and Convention Centre, and the Enterprise Hall at the Plaza of Nations.
This year, Dance Club is bringing the competition to the Nest’s second-floor ballroom, the Great Hall. Currently competition registration sits at 232 people and with competitors in previous years likely to bring one or two guests, it should be a busy ballroom over the competition weekend.
“[Gala Ball] started as a local competition ... but then as the dancesport community in BC grew, it became a bigger competition,” said Dance Club President Jake Larson. “Now we have tons of dancers, some coming up from Washington [and] the island. We still have separate categories for club members so they can compete casually.”
The event itself consists of all levels of ballroom dance competition from club closed events, to standard and Latin competitions for all ages.
“I really like the club closed events,” said Larson. “They’re just a lot more fun because it’s all the university students. When you’re dancing, it’s not like other sports where you can’t hear the spectators. When you’re dancing, you can actually hear them, so the atmosphere is really cool ... just because of how many of you there are. There is always tons of yelling and it gets kind of rowdy. It’s pretty great.”
“The club closed events are great ... there are really big heats because we have lots of members,” continued gala chair Joshua Cheng. “Just having so many people is really amazing.”
As in years past, the event also includes some fun events — invented by the club members themselves — such as the ever popular reverse role rumba.
“[It] is the slow sexy Latin dance, except that the guys play the follow part and the follows play the lead’s part — it’s a complete role reversal. You get some people who are really, really into it,” Larson explained. “It’s a lot of the university crowd that participates, but you get some other people from the community too that are doing it, so it’s a really funny show regardless of whether you actually know what they are doing or not.”
The event will also feature same-sex dances and a newcomer performance where new club members will perform a cha-cha routine together.
Preparations for the gala are going well, Cheng said, and the club is looking forward to the competition beginning.
“There’s always things to do. We have booked judges from all over the city, some from Washington and Nanaimo — a lot of people coming in from a lot of places.”
For those interested in attending the Gala Ball, student tickets will be sold for $10 each. There is a bar on the Saturday evening for those interested in some refreshments after watching some incredible dancing during the day!