A Message from Our Founder

Gateway DanceSport Festival is the first competition to be a totally gender-neutral, all-inclusive competition.

 As the founder of Gateway Dancesport Festival, I fell in love with Ballroom dancing in 1989 when I went to my first group class at the old Dancesport studio on 57th St. in New York City. Since then, I have competed as an amateur at the highest level as the amateur partner in both Pro/Am and Am/Am couples in national and international mainstream, and same-sex, dance competitions. I have also organized and managed many DanceSport competitions, including some of the largest all-amateur competitions held in the United States. I ran the USA Dance National Championships in Baltimore and Los Angeles from 2008-2014; the WDSF World Latin Championship in New York in 2010; and, assisted Wendi Davies with her three NJ Dancesport Classic competitions for many years. In addition, I have been Chair or Co-Chair of the organizing committee for the USA Dance Greater NY Chapter’s Manhattan Amateur Classic (the MAC) over twenty times since its inception in 1990, before finally stepping down from that role in 2017. I also founded the Rocky Mountain Amateur Classic in Denver, CO in 2005. Although I returned to NYC in 2006 after running the second annual competition, I am proud to say it is still going strong. None of these things would have been even remotely possible without the input and assistance of hundreds of fellow volunteer amateur dancers.

Over the last few years, I have watched as DanceSport has become increasingly politicized and monetized, much to the detriment of amateur competitors. Two of the largest US DanceSport organizations only run competitions in which all competitors must be members of the organization that sanctions them, forcing amateurs to forgo many competitions they would like to attend, or pay for annual memberships to both.

I started the planning process for this competition by sending out surveys to the different dance groups - juniors, adults, seniors and coaches to figure out what, in their opinion, makes for a great competition. The answers were remarkably similar:

  • The rules make sense and are easy to follow

  • It runs well and on time

  • Large heats

  • Fair playing field

  • Good music

  • Multiple chances to dance and lastly,

  • Fun to compete in and fun to watch

These are the goals which Gateway DanceSport Festival hopes to achieve.

As Gateway DanceSport Festival is not affiliated with any organization and thus is not beholden to follow any of their rules and regulations, Gateway will be able take the best from each organization and make this competition unique and great. By allowing everyone to compete, regardless of membership status, Gateway invites all couples to enter, thus increasing the number of couples dancing. The second way that Gateway hopes to increase entries is by changing the definition of a couple. At Gateway, a couple is two people dancing together, regardless of gender identity.

The other major rule that most competitions must follow, that Gateway won’t, is costuming. All dancers should be dressed in age-appropriate and style-appropriate attire. The attire should be tasteful and cover all the areas of the body that should be covered.

Most competitions give you multiple events, but you are marked on the same criteria for all of the events. At Gateway, there will be the opportunity to dance multiple events but also to be assessed and receive feedback in specific areas of your dancing, musicality, footwork, partnership skills, presentation, and overall look. By competing in the ‘Assessment Events,’ you can take back to your coach information on the specific areas in each dance, which need the most improvement. This knowledge should help you and your coach decide what area to work on in order to bring you to the next level of dancing.

There will also be the opportunity for our wheelchair dancers to experience competition. Wheelchair events and standing couple events will follow the same couple and dress code rules. In addition, for wheelchair events, either the seated or the standing partner can be the leader or the follower regardless of the gender of the person.

So, if you are not going to Blackpool, come to Gateway. If you missed April Follies or Pink Jukebox, come to Gateway. If you want that last competition before the summer dance drought starts, come to Gateway. Finally, if you want to spend some quality time in New York City, come to Gateway. The weather is beautiful, warm, but not too hot, and most of the summer tourists haven’t invaded NYC, so there is actually space to walk around and see the sights. Of course, there will be a practice floor, great music, a fantastic judging panel, and at least 90 seconds for each dance where there are three of more couples competing.

I hope to see everyone at the comp that will be bringing DanceSport, maybe kicking and screaming a little, into the 21st century. See you all on April 11, 2020.

Yours in Joyful Dancing;

Daphna Locker Organizer: Gateway DanceSport Festival competingcouples@gmail.com