I was recently at a small dance event held at a local venue. The event went well enough, but what makes it important now was the desire of the passing spectators. They wanted to come in and gamble. Granted the name of venue included “Casino” so one might think that gambling was not only available, but also encouraged. The term “Casino” as used in this context is a story in and of itself. Suffice for now, to say this location was a hall built during one of Florida’s boon times and has kept the name, and should be cherished as a historical example of how Florida handled groups before air-conditioning. The couple looking in could easily see that the only activity anyone participated in was dancing. Their desire to gamble anyway may be the best indication yet, that dancesport is approaching true sporting status.

When you come to think about it, all sports listed on the local sport’s page are also generally listed on the odd’s page. So what we need to do is to promote dance as a sport where gamblers can cash in. Odds on favorites aside, we want to make it easy for people to gamble and raise the sport to the level that will encourage those that also frequent Vegas or at least our great Indian Reservations to be involved. These people want great odds, ways of making money without themselves having to do anything, or at least good ways to launder or receive money for no apparent reason. Once that happens we can be sure this sport is well on its way to true prominence.

Many dance competition organizers and associations have already tried to establish the team aspect of dancing. We have seen teams from the West, North, South, Canada, and whatever other grouping can be imagined, competing at various events trying to uphold their region at various events. It hasn’t worked. What this sport lacks that team sports have is a good defense. When one couple is out there trying to score points for their team, the remainder of the team should be free to try to prevent the other offensive players from scoring. This could be done as in football by blocking the path (Line of Dance) of the competing players, or if the judges don’t notice via clipping, or a good strong forearm. This could be as important to the audience or odds-makers as the offensive pair trying to earn points. Since many people think the placements of couples is preordained due to past performances and previous recognition, allowing a good defensive play to take them out of contention might even the playing field. At any rate it allows for a whole new method of drafting team members or competitors. If I can’t win in a division outright, the Team Captain can select someone for their defensive abilities, and the audience can shout, “DefenseDefense-Defense” like they do in other sports. Odds would change more often depending upon injury time-outs, injured reserves, and other changes that might be necessitated by this new system.

Another necessity that would enable gamblers to more easily benefit from our sport would be bigger and brighter numbers on the back. Instead of the demure little numbers now on the back of the men, can’t you just imagine how much easier it will be once large numbers are used as in other sports with the names prominently written over the numbers? Can’t you see it now? Onto the floor comes # 55 with the name Gonnadanski written over the numbers so that all can see the favorites are in top form. No looking back and forth between the floor and program, and trying to remember who is who, and where you saw them before. It is plain and simple. It is right there in front of you for everybody to read, even without glasses.

Another addition could be the track record of each of the teams. Just like the racing forum, Organizers could list, previous placements and competitions. Posted along with the placements could be the time between events, numbers competing in each competition, or even the floor condition, just as track conditions, fast, slow or sticky. Of course competitors might get upset being considered a good “mudder” or whatever they might end up calling the team that performs well on wet or slow floors. Previous placements are now considered taboo in programs, because putting a placement in or listing a championship rating might influence one of the Judges. The current result is that the only people who know where competitors placed before are the same people who aren’t supposed to get the information now by reading the program; the Judges, and the only time most Judges look at the program is to see if their name is spelled right. Spectators could really use this information to decide if they should watch, get a drink or even place a bet and then try to remember if they have seen them before. Granted some may pick their team based upon the color of hair, or dress, just as now some pick horses, but others will at least be able to pretend they know what they are doing.

Another way to make it easier for the gamblers and/or audience may be to assign colors. Instead of each team choosing their own colors, and changing them each time they can talk a sponsor out of a new dress, teams could keep the same colors all season. This would help many people remember whom exactly it is they are watching. Some of these competitors have really long and difficult names to pronounce. Wouldn’t it be easier and just as much fun to say, “See, the couple in pink and orange are competing again at this event.” Let’s bet on them. With just a little help, the industry can do much to help the audience, betters and general public get a handle on all this dancing stuff. Before long this sport might even make the Sport’s page.

Michael S. Reichenbach

Published in Dance Week

04 – 18 – 2009

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