The origins of "Ballroom Dance, MV" date back to the spring of 1996 at the parish hall of St. Andrew’s in Edgartown. The group did not officially have a name, but sometimes was known as simply Ballroom Dance or MV Ballroom Dance. Jack Burton, and his dancing partner, Carol Carrick, can be credited with the organization of the first dances. They attracted novice dancers and not-so-novice dancers to attend the Sunday evening informal event, complete with dance instruction.
When Jack Burton and Carol Carrick started dating in the early nineties, the thing they most enjoyed doing was ballroom dancing. But where could you do it on Martha's Vineyard? Occasionally, there were a few Saturday night dances at the Legion Hall, The Hot Tin Roof or The Atlantic Connection, where you could do a few foxtrots, swings or maybe a latin dance, if you requested it from the band or DJ. The only public room with a good wooden floor on the Island that they had access to, was the parish hall at St, Andrews Episcopal Church in Edgartown, where Jack was a member of the congregation. So they put up posters around town, a notice in the church bulletin, and the Vineyard Gazette, and asked for a $3 donation to pay for the $30 rental of the room. Jack bought a $20 cassette tape player and recorded dance music. At first, most of the people who showed up were church members, but soon word got around, and people came from other towns.
Tom and Dorthy do most of the teaching while they are on the Island from about April till October. The rest of the year, Jack, Carol, Christine and her husband Tim McLean, Tom and Janet are all still dancing and taking turns teaching, along with some newcomers, like Roger Mitchell, Jay Airis, and Maria and Tad Lawcewicz, who joined about 10 yrs ago. Roger Mitchell, a summer resident, dances up a storm in his white spats, and teaches us his sultry merengue steps. Jay Airis, is our part time resident Jive expert from Germany. He is also certified to teach Ballroom dance, and shares his dance expertise with us. Susan Fairbanks drops in to brush up on her graceful dancsteps. During the last couple of years, Marcia Rock and Peter Williams, summer visitors from New York, have been demonstrating their Argentinian Tango expertise. Once or twice a year, their teacher, Dwight Carter, gives dance instructions. Sergio Racig, an accomplished Salsa dancer, together with his partner and wife, Esther Deming share their dance expertise. Kaitlin Dorr, who has also become a swing expert, puts on a good show together with Tom Carberry, with whom she has been teaching West Coast Swing. From time to time, Bob and Fran Tierney show up and provide some excellent dance instruction.
Other islanders just show up and have fun. Victoria Dreyfuss brings her enthusiasm every week. Frank Elliott, a longtime participant, who is now wheelchair bound, still comes and moves to the dance beat. Lloyd Henke, a retired math teacher comes every week to practice and learn new steps. Lorraine Huffman, and her friend Patty, also retirees come to join the fun. Ladislav Navratil, who has appeared in Salsa performances in Built on Stilts 2009, and 2010, also drops by. Teenager Jacob Adams, who plans to be a professional dancer, came to us from Maine last year (2009), and graced the dance floor in our 2010 performance in Built on Stilts.
In 2009, fourteen members appeared in a Built on Stilts dance production under the name of “Ballroom Dance, MV”, and again in 2010. In earlier years, several dance members had also choreographed and danced in Built on Stilts, but they had appeared under the choreographers' individual names.
The group had been meeting at Fanny Blair Hall until February 13, 2011, when they moved to The Space at the Edgartown Triangle. The donation is still $3, the atmosphere is still relaxed, the dance instructions are still informal, but the teachers are more experienced. The cassette tape player has been replaced by a lap top computer with iTunes, organized by Tad. Carol Carrick, who was treasurer until a few years ago, gave up the position due to travel considerations. Christine McLean, a talented musician, vocalist and dancer, took over. Every Sunday, either Janet, Tom, or Kaitlin will open the doors at 6PM and start the CD's playing for Swing, warm ups or beginners' dancing. At 7PM, Christine comes in with the lap top, downloaded with a broad variety of dance music, and the lessons begin. Special thanks to Christine and Janet who have kept the group alive through the winter months for all these years.
Since 2008, there have been three marriages of dancing couples from Ballroom Dance: Christine and Tim Mac Lean ( April 2008), Esther Deming & Sergio Racig (February 2011, and Victoria Dreyfoos & Craig Arnold (May 2011).
The location moves in the summer to the Portuguese American Club in Oak Bluffs, and sometimes the Senior Center at Oak Bluffs. Currently we are back at Fanny Blair Hall in Vineyard Haven.