The Right Foot
Start the Year off on the Right Foot – Published in South Mississippi Living
Story by PRISCILLA LOEBENBERG and photos by JOHN STRICKLIN
Tim Allen has waltzed his way to a healthier and happier life over the last three decades as a professional dancer. At Mississippi Ballroom Dance Clubs, his focus is to help others enjoy the same rewards he received from dance.
Dancing is a great way to start the year off on the right foot. It is also a good way to prepare for upcoming Mardi Gras balls, said Allen.
“My philosophy is anyone can learn to dance,” said Allen. “It’s simple, easy and fun.”
He and instructor Julie Pagano hold classes for beginners through advanced. Allen said dancing can improve your posture, your health and your confidence.
“The hardest step is to walk through the door.”
Allen began dancing at age 9, picking the activity over baseball and football. As a young man he answered an ad for someone who “likes to dance and sleep late” and began working at a dance studio franchise. After 21 years as a professional dance instructor and competitor, Allen opened Ballroom Dance Clubs on Community Road in Gulfport in 2009.
People come because they want to learn how to do a few dances, said Allen.
“But they get so much more than they expected,” he said. “I’ve seen dancing change hundreds of lives.”
Allen told the story of a young man who gained three inches in height just by improving his posture. He said some studies have shown dancing helps older people stave off dementia and Alzheimer’s. And anyone who watches“Dancing with the Stars” can see how dancing helps with weight lose.
Each year, Allen and other club instructors volunteer with the American Red Cross’s Dancing with the Stars-themed fundraiser, Moonlight and Magnolias. Other annual nonprofit events include the CEO Talent Show and Sounds of the Holidays. One fundraiser Allen said he is most passionate about is hosted by Gulf Coast Health Educators.
“I’m diabetic,” he said. “So, this is really dear to my heart.”
The club holds social dances on Saturday nights. About 20 to 40 people come for the evenings of tobacco-free and alcohol-free fun. During the course of the evening about 35 pieces of music are played and people typically dance to 25 songs.
“That is a lot of exercise,” said Allen. People don’t realize they are exercising because they are having fun.”
Allen said the atmosphere is friendly and non-threatening. People come to dance, not to pick up dates, he said. The people are all nice and friendly. Routinely changing partners is a good way to help you learn and gain confidence, he said.
Dancers also enjoy what Allen said is “the best dance floor on the Coast.” The 60-foot by 40-foot space is cushioned like a basketball court.
Allen said the group classes are a good way to learn the patterns and the basic steps of dance. But, most clients who want to improve their technique opt for private lessons. As part of the club’s Getting Started Package, Allen offers one free private lesson, with three additional private lessons to follow for $99. If clients sign up at the guest party held the first Monday of every month, they can receive a $20 discount.
Allen said he studied under the best pros in the business in New York City and competed nationally on the American Smooth circuit for five years to perfect his technique.
“It wasn’t about winning. It was abut the work that went into it – the perfection of it. It was as exact and beautiful as I could make it,” he said.
Mississippi Ballroom Dance Clubs
15199 Community Road
Gulfport, MS 39503