Let's dance

Updated: 2011-11-25 11:45

By Amanda Reiter (China Daily European Weekly)

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 Let's dance

Dance instructor Ken Wyland gets into the mood as he leads his group on a variety of dances that includes the merengue, rumba, cha-cha, salsa, waltz, foxtrot and the disco fox German Ball. [Feng Yongbin / China Daily]

Nearly every day he attended a three-hour class, which was followed by a dance party. He has brought that same idea to Beijing.

"Saddest thing about being here was I could teach classes, but there was no where to dance, with an elegant wooden dance floor."

Until, that is, he found Sino-Chu Wine Club in Chaoyang district, where he and his wife hold weekly Saturday dance parties.

The party has grown from a crowd of six or seven of their closest friends to 45, the number of people who attend their Halloween party.

Even though the gathering space is small, the intimate area gives people a chance to dance and socialize - just what Wyland is looking for.

Wyland has taught the introductory dance class for a couple of years in the run-up to the ball season.

He spends the class demonstrating each type of dance with his wife as his partner, touching on a variety of dances that includes the merengue, rumba, cha-cha, salsa, waltz, foxtrot and the disco fox, which he describes as a German favorite.

"I think people enjoy learning the basics. After all, they just want to get through one night," Wyland says.

He says it's impossible to master all of the dances in a few weeks, but he tries to give the students a taste.

"Maybe one or two of the dances they will find interesting," Wyland says.

Axel Bethke says as hotel manager of the Kempinski Hotel, he's been busy shoring up the final details before the German ball, sponsored by the German Chamber of Commerce. But he and his wife, Nadine, thought they would give the class a try.

The German natives spent most of the evening smiling and giggling as they stared at each other's feet.

They say they both can keep a beat, but Nadine says "he just dances better alone."

The class turns from a lesson on how to glide across the floor to a lesson on history.

Wyland says that music is reflective of the times and can be heard through songs.

In the '60s, there was war and life was a mess. But in the '70s, it was time to party.

He tries to encourage the dancers to relax and just think about walking across the floor instead of grooving, asking the participants to try the dance moves again and again.

He floats around the room handing out pointers to each couple.

"I find it's great if I can excite people. Of all the people who take the classes, maybe one or two couples will stick with it and start to come to our Saturday parties," Wyland says.

Most of the participants admit to not practising at home, but one couple - Ludwig and Donghe Bloss - say they expect they'll be back for more lessons, even after the ball.

Ludwig asks the teacher for homework, even though he says he thinks today's class has gone much better than the previous ones.

"Even though the man is supposed to lead, she (his wife) never does what I want her to do," he says with a grin.

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