The best ballroom and latin dancers in Australia are coming back 12 months after they enjoyed a wonderful weekend in Wollongong.
The city showcased itself as a great place to stage national events as more than 1600 people turned out to watch the DanceSport Australia National Championship (D.A.N.C.E.) at WIN Entertainment Centre.
More than 680 competitors and 150 officials from Australia and New Zealand performed as the Illawarra proved it has what it takes to be a major events centre.
DanceSport Australia chair Dallas Williams said Wollongong did it so well they were definitely coming back in 2018.
“Wollongong has been absolutely fantastic,” he said.
“We are already booking for next year. But it looks like it may be a week later. Hopefully it can be a long term arrangement.”
Mr Williams said Wollongong was a wonderfully unique location.
“The venue and the city is all in one place,” he said.
“Everybody can just leave here and walk to get food, walk to the hotels and everything is very compact. Where in other places you can be miles away.”
Mr Williams said facilities were important to competitors and the WIN Entertainment Centre had done that well.
“The venue has been fantastic. They have bent over backwards with everything to try and help.”
More than 1500 tickets were sold by Saturday night so sales were well up on the 1300 people who attended last year in Canberra.
Mr Williams said that was great for the first year in a new city and at a new venue.
As more people find out about the significance and standing of the event he thinks numbers could exceed 2000 in 2018.
“It has been a good response from people,” he said.
“And there has been lot of positive feedback from social media and just in general from people coming in. This should grow every year now. We heard ballroom and latin dancing was big in the Illawarra but you never really know until you come”.
Mr Williams said something that was different about the 2017 Dancesport Championships was it was the first time all the grades had been run at one event.
“We now have what we call recreational dancing which is the little kids. So we have everything from the raw beginners right through to the professionals,” he said.
All results were posted across the weekend on the DanceSport website.
The national championship has been held in Canberra for the last 35 years but this year the Australian Institute of Sport venue was no longer available and Destination Wollongong helped secure DanceSport for the Illawarra.
With more than 1000 visitors to the city the championships are thought to have injected around $250,000 into the Illawarra economy with many competitiors, officials and family members staying in local hotels and dining at Wollongong cafes and restaurants.
The professional and open amateur finals were held on Saturday night but dance action occurred across the weekend. Teams took the floor on Sunday along with many other divisions.
Wollongong DanceSport enthusiast Sandy Rae said it was fantastic to see dancing at the highest level being showcased in Wollongong.
“To have it in Wollongong is just brilliant,” she said.
“As a dance enthusiast to see it up close and not have to travel is great. The open events are actually selection events. So the champions in each of the major open categories will be Australian representatives for their respective events overseas. So these competitors are the best in the country.”
”We had 340 couples competing,” Mrs Rae said.