COLUMBIA — A woman in a pink sequined dress steps onto the dance floor accompanied by her partner dressed in all black with the exception of his pink sequined tie. Other dancers surround them, but the pair stays focused on each other as a single voice rings out.
“Viennese Waltz, music please,” announcer Colette Nolin says.
The song pours out of the speakers as the dancers move from their set positions. The pair in pink floats around the dance floor, elbows resting on each other, their opposite hands held tight.
The two dancers rise and fall as their feet move together in a way that moves the couple as one. With every turn, the pink dress expands only to gather around the legs of the woman as the turn is completed. Ninety seconds pass and the music fades. The dance is done.
Lynn Martin and her partner Jeff Lucas smile and joke with each other as they prepare for their next dance. Despite the sweat that glistened on their faces and bodies, the dancers at the Show-Me State Games ballroom dance competition were cooler Saturday then in past years' competitions. It was the fourth year of ballroom dance competition but the first year at the Ballroom Academy of Columbia, which is nicely air-conditioned.
The addition of a competition-sized dance floor to the academy was just completed, and the large dance floor got its first use on Saturday.
“We just opened the facility a week and a half ago,” said Amanda Buchana, the co-owner and an instructor at the academy in south Columbia. “We typically had to hold it (the competition) at a church. The temperature there was too warm.”
While Buchana said the six couples at this year's competition was similar to the number of couples competing in previous years, she hopes the new facility will improve attendance.
The dancers participating in this year's games certainly enjoyed the new venue.
“The facility was fantastic,” Martin said. “We had a great time. The judges and people hosting could not have been more friendly.”
Martin and Lucas have been partners for a year and a half. They traveled from the St. Charles area after hearing about the competition from their friends Ken and Flo Koenigsfeld, who were back at the games for the second time.
“I like the new place,” Flo Koenigsfeld said. “The atmosphere is nice. It feels like a studio. It’s not like a regular gymnasium.”
Flo Koenigsfeld has been married to her husband for 37 years and has been dancing with him for 15. She admits that dancing with her husband can be frustrating, with arguments being a frequent occurrence, but the “outcome is good.”
“The big thing is we’re together, four times a week,” she said. “It’s our way to exercise. We go out together and have fun.”
Flo Koenigsfeld considers the studio they practice at their second home and says the people they dance with are “just like a family.”
Martin echoes this sentiment.
“It’s fun when you have someone to share it with,” Martin said. “It feeds my soul. Takes away my stress.”