Dancespace383 owners and former world champion ballroom dancers Alan and Donna Shingler want to run a 10 day national Olympic style dance event for all forms of dance in Wollongong.
The Shinglers worked with Destination Wollongong to bring the best ballroom and latin dancers in Australia and New Zealand to Wollongong for the national championships in June.
The DanceSport Australia National Championship (D.A.N.C.E.) championships had been held in Canberra for 35 years. But when the Australian Institute of Sport venue was no longer available Wollongong competed with Melbourne for the right to host the event and won.
“I am a director of DanceSport Australia...and I had already started the process to try and get the event to Wollongong. I thought it would be a wonderful thing for the city. It is a wonderful event that brings hundreds of people for three or four days,” Mr Shingler said.
The city and WIN Entertainment Centre (WEC) did it so well the chair of DanceSport Australia Dallas Williams said the national championships were coming back in 2018. “Hopefully it can be a long term arrangement”.
Mr Williams said Wollongong was a wonderful city where everything they needed was within walking distance. More people attended the D.A.N.C.E. event in Wollongong than did in the ACT in 2016.
But Mr Shingler’s sees an opportunity for the city to host an even bigger event than in June when 680 competitors, 150 officials and hundreds of supporters descended on the WEC.
Champions from the open events in that competition qualified as Australian representatives for their respective events overseas. Which means Wollongong is already becoming a launching pad for potential future world ballroom dancing champions.
Mr Shingler is talking about building that further into a longer event for all styles of dance.
“DanceSport Australia has a licence for the IOC (International Olympic Committee). Dance is becoming very popular. Within the Olympic movement there are different types of games. They are talking about a specific Olympic Games just for dance. So we are hoping in time it can become a 10 day event including ballroom, latin, jazz, hip-hop, cheer-leading and any form of dance. That is our aim. And that would be amazing for Wollongong. It would really boost tourism.”
It could also be like a festival of dance which could help Wollongong be seen as a dance capital.
It is estimated that the DanceSport Australia National Championship’s in June injected more than $250,000 into the Illawarra economy through visitation, dining and shopping.
But what Mr Shingler is talking about is an even three times as long that would welcome thousands of participants, officials and supporters.
And that would provide a major boost for the hospitality and retail sectors.
The Shinglers were ranked best ballroom dancers in the world in 1998 and top six internationally for all the years they competed together at the highest level.
“We worked very well together. We had a fantastic career...and it has given us a fantastic life,” Mrs Shingler said.
Her parents are Ray and Margaret Reeve who taught thousands of Wollongong people to dance at Reeve Dance Academy for almost six decades.
Mrs Shingler said Wollongong has always been strong in dancing.
“At the moment in Wollongong we have four out of the top six amateur couples in Australia and that is a huge achievement for a regional area. These kids are very talented. Also a lot of them move to Wollongong to learn at Dancespace 383. We are very, very proud of that. ”
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