QuickSilver Dance Center

High school dances can be fun!

Eliminate worries for students ("will anyone ask me to dance?") and for parents ("will I know where my kids are and what they're doing?") by having an easy but comprehensive structure for your high school formal, as we have done with the annual Greater Austin Area Christian Home School Formal, held the last week of April.

The process begins with registration during January each year, at which time students in grades 9-12 make a commitment to attend the formal, and to take specific dance classes prior to it. They also indicate seating preferences for the Formal Dinner, and any dietary restrictions.

The dance lessons begin after Spring Break and run for five weeks. Students are separated by their level of dance experience into either beginning, intermediate or advanced level. The classes cover 12 line dances, including "Electric Slide," "Boot Scoot Boogie" and "Cupid Shuffle." Six social partner dances are also taught: ballroom waltz, tango, salsa, cha-cha, swing (jitterbug) and two-step. The classes are taught by the same instructor following the same agenda (although the pace is slower for beginners), so that all students are learning the same material.

As part of the lessons, the students are taught how to introduce themselves, shake hands, and make conversation. The young men present their right arm to escort the young ladies to and from the dance floor for their particular dance. Upon conclusion of the dance they exchange thank-you's and then the young men rotate to the next partner to repeat the process. During each 1.5 hour class, students rotate a minimum of 20 times, usually more, thereby meeting their fellow students and getting more and more comfortable in this social environment.

By the day of the formal, all registrants' names have been entered into a computer spreadsheet which then generates Dance Cards. Each card has the student's name and seating assignment for the dinner. The ladies' cards also include their 'Wait Station' labeled A through M.

Inside each card is a list of 21 assigned dances, and who their partner will be for each dance. The gentlemen's cards indicate the Wait Station for each of their 21 ladies so that the young men can quickly find their partners, even if they do not yet know each other. For example: Dance #1, Jane Doe at station M; Dance #2, Mary Smith at station B, etc.

The evening of the Formal, students check in at 6:00, at which time they are given their dance cards. A professional photographer is there to take formal portraits of students, couples, and groups of friends. "Senior Tables" honor that year's graduating class with brief biographies and a sketch of their future plans. The doors to the ballroom open at 6:45pm, allowing the students time to find their seats for the 3-course dinner.

At 8:00pm, the DJ instructs the young ladies to report to their Wait Stations, and the young men proceed to find their partner for the first dance according to their dance card assignment. After five weeks of lessons, everyone is comfortable with the introduction and escort process and, since everyone has been assigned a partner for each dance, there is no hesitation -- the floor is quickly filled with dancing couples. The only people not dancing are the chaperones.

The 21 assigned dances rotate among Waltz, Two Step, Salsa, Cha-Cha, Tango and Jitterbug. The DJ allows time between dances for the gentlemen to escort the ladies back to their Wait Station, and then to find their new partner for the next dance. Interspersed among the 21 assigned dances are the 12 line dances and 21 "free" social dances, where anyone can ask anyone else for a dance (or use this time for a restroom break).

Dances are scheduled from 8pm until midnight. Allowing 30 minutes for Senior Recognition and a "Seniors Only" dance, and 5 minutes per dance (which includes the partner exchange), we usually play 40+ songs during the evening. Students may sit out only during the free dances, and then only by their own choice. The rest of the time, all students are dancing; and no one leaves the ballroom before midnight, because everyone must honor their obligations through the 21 assigned dances. Since everyone learned the same moves to the same dances from the same instructor, no one is too uncomfortable on the dance floor.

"But wait — what if my daughter has a boyfriend?" you ask. "Can't she dance exclusively with him?" The answer is yes, and no. The computer program has been tweaked so that dating couples are partnered with each other for six dances: #1, 5, 9, 13, 17 and 21; and of course they can choose to dance with each other during all free dances. However, one of the goals of our formal is learning social skills and increasing interaction among the students, especially among people they don't know, so even dating couples are expected to honor their obligations for the 15 other assigned dances.

The process of orchestrating the GAA-CHSF has evolved and been refined over the past 15 years, from the first formal which had fewer than 40 students (2003), to the most recent formal with over 400 students (2016). The phenomenal growth of this program indicates its popularity with the students. For details on the program's history, behavior guidelines, dress code, and more, visit our website.

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