Danes in Beijing Feel Like Dancing

22.04.2010 | news Anya Palm | photos Anya Palm

The annual Danish Gala Ball in Beiling is approaching, and there can be no ball without dancing. In preparation, the Gala Committee has arranged dancing lessons every Wednesday the last two months for the guests to show their moves and have fun.

All the chairs and tables are empty at Sino-Chu Wine Bar, all though the impeccably dressed staff stands erect and ready at their positions by the bar and door. It is a regular Wednesday evening, and the dinner crowd is long gone – yet, it is obvious something is going on at this place.

The sound of a soft violin is pouring out from upstairs, revealing the source: On second floor is a ballroom, with chandeliers, waxed wooden floors and a ring of people waltzing in pairs with heads and hand in position. In the middle stands a man with a colorful shirt and a thick New York accent, handing out instructions and praise for the pairs. The violin plays the last note:
“All right, everyone, take a break,” the dance instructor Kenn Wyland says and around him, concentrated faces turn into smiles.

Soon the room is filled with small groups and was it not for the jeans and blouses it would look like a ball. It is not. It is dance lessons, preparing for the big event on April 24, the Danish Gala Ball.

Important charity event

Gala Ball Committee Chair, Lotte Samuelsberg, sits at one of the tables that are lined up by the side:
“We arranged this mainly for people to come and have fun. And we have had a lot of people coming here – usually around 20, she says. This is the second last chance to learn the moves, but actually, that does not matter so much.”
“I hope this gets people in a dancing mood – we are Danes, we like to dance,” she says.

The Gala Ball is going to be the 14th of its kind and over the years, it has proven to be an important charity event. Having gone from a novelty idea of gathering the Beijing-Danes to raise money for a cause selected by a committee, the last couple of years, the Ball have been one of the most significant charity events of the year. Last year, Danish artists Søs Fenger and Michael Carøe Las Vegas, joined the Danes in collecting almost 1 million RMB. The money was spent on helping poor Chinese children get an education at the Sun Village and Lian Cun Town Center Primary School.

This year, amongst others, Danish sweetheart Thomas Helmig and the very danceable Antonelli Orchestra is joining the Ball and, although the global economic crisis has taken its toll on charity, Ladegaard is optimistic:
“I hope we can raise…maybe not as much as last year, but a fair bit. Money goes a long way out here,” she says.

Let’s not forget, it’s a ball
Another thing Lotte Samuelsberg and her co-members of the committee have had focus on this year, is making the ball a lively one. They have arranged raffles, entertainment and small events all through the evening, along with the dance lessons. And one major change has the committee dared to engage in:
“Usually, there is lancier dancing. It is a tradition. But we decided to try something new this year, so we are learning the Chinese pingsi and waltz here,” she says and adds: – “I hope there will not be anyone who misses the lancier!”

Basically, the committee wanted to deformalize the dancing to encourage people to break out their moves on the dance floor without thinking too much of it. That’s the purpose of the dance lessons and it is the hope that this relaxed attitude spills into the Ball itself as well:
“It will. The ball it always fun, I am looking forward, of course,” she says. Then the break is over.

Kenn Wyland turns on the music again and people start getting jiggy with it. Because there is no waltz this time:
“… Heeere come the men in black…”

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