It is not uncommon to be injured, rather grievously I am afraid, on the dance floor. Personally, I have had my feet stabbed several times by high stilletto heels, my cheek bruised by sharp-ponting elbows and my rib cage squashed by inconsiderate and aggressive dancers. I have also experienced the pain caused by whipping coat-tails and feathered frocks as the couple whisked arrogantly past me. The dance floor has become a health hazard.
I have seen dancers stumble and fall during violent collisions. Some had injured their ankles and knees. Some of the serious ones sustained even head injuries. In some hotly-contested competitions, some professional foul plays are quite evident. Some of these dancers apply no brakes at all, demolishing their fellow competitors even while they are still stationary and doing their lines.
A dance competition today has become increasingly aggressive. I have also noticed that competitors are getting more hostile in their feverish attempts to climb the rostrum. This is especially so in professional competitions where there are prestige, glory and prize money to be won. Winners can demand higher performance fees. Competitions are getting more lucrative and commercialised.
The competitors fought like ancient warriors and charioteers in tribal warfare. The more violent and aggressive you are, the better the chances of winning. The more you move across the floor, the better the judges think of you. So you move forcefully and knock the teeth out of your fellow competitors. In the good old days, ballroom dancing was a gentle art for the polished and elitish few. It was a pleasurable form of recreation. But, woe betide me, look at the dance floor today. You can witness a battle going on.
The sad thing about competitive ballroom dancing is that there are no rules and regulations, no disciplinary code of conduct and no established etiquette. It is not governed by any form of strict dos and don’ts like in a football match. It is timely that couples who display untoward aggressiveness and repeatedly collide into fellow dancers should be given the dance equivalent of a yellow card and then sent off the dance floor.
They should be severely penalised for foul play and disqualified. It has become a dictum among young competitors that the couple who dares to dance wins. This, I feel personally, should be discouraged. Dance teachers should inculcate in dancers a set of dance etiquette which must be strictly adhered to on the dance floor. You can win a competition without being bullish and aggressive, inconsiderate and rude. You can still exercise sportsmanship and floor-craft.
I think Marcus and Karen Hiltons display all these noble qualities very well. In fact, in the 1994 Blackpool Dance Festival, Sir Bill Irvine sternly warned the competitors to exercise restraint and floor-craft to avoid any mishaps and collisions. He openly deplored any couple who danced against the line of dance and chided those who crossed the imaginary central line that divides the dance floor. He was visibly annoyed by the increasing number of injuries and collisions during the early rounds of the competitions. I believe that every competitor should be given a set of rules and regulations to follow.
A couple should be taught to cultivate a certain amount of decorum and propriety on the dance floor. Ferocity and aggressiveness have no place in a competition. If some form of discipline is not enforced on the dance floor, ballroom dancing will become a hazardous sport indeed. Dancers will come to blows on the dance floor !