Banneker Ballroom Dance Club

studio: Ballroom Dance

6310 Chillum Place NW, Washington, DC

About

1940s: Banneker Recreation Center The Banneker Ballroom Dance Club began in the 1940's as dance classes funded by Washington, DC's Recreation Department at the Banneker Recreation Center. At that time, the class was predominately African-American men and women of various ages and backgrounds. The classes included not only instruction in proper dance technique, but also proper dress, etiquette, and deportment. Every man attending a Banneker dance class had to wear a necktie. 1950s: The Instructors In the early 1950's two local Jewish personalities, Milton Grant and Herb Davis opened the Dunbar Dance Studio at the 2011 Club in the Dunbar Hotel. African American dancers were trained in the techniques of ballroom dances by experienced teachers from the Arthur Murray Dance Studio. The Dunbar Dance Studio was purchased by Loren Frederic Maurer, an executive of Arthur Murray's Dance Studio. The name was changed to the Frederic Loren Interracial Dance Studio where he and other instructors from Arthur Murray trained students in other facets of dancing and management. When the dance studio closed, some of the "graduates" opened their own studios, Joe Brooks being one of them. There have been several teachers through the years. Stan Kelly and Ruth Taylor both taught at Banneker in the early 50s. 1960s — 1970s Ruth Taylor initiated activities within her class, including monthly parties, which continue today. Ruth continued until 1970 when she resigned. Concerned about the continuity of the class, she asked Joe Brooks to take the class and he consented. In the mid - 1970s, during Joe’s tenure, the dance class was reorganized as a dance club in order that it could sponsor its own dance parties. 1980s Joe remained as the club’s lead instructor until 1985. When classes resumed in the fall of 1985, Kitty Gaston, a national competition dance and former Banneker student, became the new dance instructor. 1990s When Kitty Gaston resigned in 1990, Ruth Taylor and Joe Brooks returned to teach the class. Joe Brooks served as the principal Banneker dance class instructor until his retirement in 1995. He remained affiliated with Banneker until his death in August 2002 at the age of 84. In September 1997, Joe Petrisko joined the ranks of talented, dedicated dance instructors. 2000s Stan Kelly Stan Kelly Michael Sims Michael Sims Joe Petrisko ended his nine-year tenure in Spring 2006. Stan Kelly, an artistic and accomplished instructor, joined Banneker as its new instructor in September 2006. For nine years Stan dedicated himself to teaching dance lessons; never missing a class. Stan retired early 2015 after a back injury and recommended Michael Sims for the instructor position. Michael Sims, a gifted and consummate performer, debuted at Banneker in March 2015 by teaching the Waltz. His fresh approach to ‘up our game’ re-energized the dance club. He was enthusiastically welcomed by the Banneker membership.

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