The third Saturday in June is a special day for social dancing.

Two years ago, Mayor John E. Dailey proclaimed it Dance Day in the United States. USA Dance is a social dance organization, of which Rebecca Kelley, a board member, served for almost four years. There are 17 chapters in the state of Florida alone and countless across the country.

After: Be there or be square: Turn to better health

After: Back in the swing: the ballroom and salsa return to the dance floor

To commemorate the day in Tallahassee, Kelley and her colleagues have planned the first-ever Florida Sunshine Dance & Symposium, which will span three days and include a talent show, mini-match and evening dancing.

On Saturday, USA Dance National President Ken Richard will be the keynote speaker and discuss navigating the future of social dance.

“Our organization wants to make Tallahassee a hub for ballroom dancing,” says Kelley. “After many board meetings, we came up with this“ à la carte ”event. This is not a one size fits all and we made it on purpose.

Friday night will kick off the weekend with social dancing and performances in the spotlight from members of the organization. Beginners and all levels are welcome. Saturday will feature a spirits roundtable to discuss the chapter’s growth and the promotion of social dance at the forefront of the Tallahassee art scene.

Competitors are invited to hone their skills by attending a competitive “mini-match”. There will also be classes and workshops taught by Diedre Manzanares Williams, Joe Mounts and Christian Grace. Grace was Kelley’s partner in one of her most memorable spotlight performances a few years ago.


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A spotlight is similar to an exhibition, where a couple takes the dance floor and gives a performance. Kelley says their waltz got her on a new journey with social dancing.

“It really allowed me to let go of some things from my past,” Kelley recalls. “I incorporated a lot of personal things into the dance that I needed to express.”

Kelley joined the USA Dance organization after attending some swing dances on Tuesday night at the local American Legion. His mother sits alongside him on the board of directors, and together they have continued to organize events all over town.

Music was Kelley’s first introduction to the arts. She sings and plays the piano and the trumpet. Given her musical ear, she has a great deal of respect for the way musicians and dancers work together to interpret the rhythms and embody the intricacies of each song.

Her favorite dance is the foxtrot and her unforgettable time signature that can be found in music from the 1920s to the 1990s.

“You can hear and dance a variety of different styles within the rhythm of the foxtrot,” says Kelley. “There are a lot of improvisations you can do. For example, you can incorporate a tango pattern into the foxtrot. Or you can stop in the middle, turn it into a swing step, then stop the swing and turn it back into a foxtrot.

Kelley’s dance genes were inherited from her mother, who has been a ballroom dancer for almost 20 years.

Her sons, aged 10 and 12, are also fast and have joined them at several social dance events. Kelley is not only in awe of how her kids are imbibing new moves like sponges, but also how their role as “leaders” on the dance floor has helped them grow into young gentlemen.

Kelley got the chance to dance with her sons in a performance in the spotlight in 2019. Thinking back to the videos from that night, she admires the sparkle in her sons’ eyes and the quality time they have shared together. Her eldest son competed in a tag team match in Daytona and won first place in swing dancing in April.

“He was so proud of the trophy he won, he went to school the following Monday and showed it,” Kelley says. “These are good moments of pride. My mom, her husband, my two kids and I are all here to cut the dance floor and we are enjoying it. It’s a family affair.

Kelley says their chapter has been able to host dances since December at an extra charge

COVID Precautions. Hand disinfection stations and mask wearing are encouraged by members. They also refrained from hosting regular mixes where couples dance with different people one after another.

However, now that most of the core group dancers are vaccinated, Kelley hopes the dances start to look like they were before the pandemic.

The start of the Florida Sunshine Dance & Symposium is another opportunity for the community to get involved, whether it’s attending a lesson, inquiring about USA Dance membership, or just getting together for a fun night out with friends. and the family.

“We said in February of last year, before it all started to stop, not to miss your chance to dance because you don’t know when you might lose it,” says Kelley. “It turns out that a month later we lost him for several months. I hope everyone who attends the weekend leaves with an impressive aspiration to never miss a chance to dance.

Amanda Sieradzki is the feature film writer for the Council on Culture & Arts. COCA is the Capital Region’s umbrella agency for arts and culture (

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If you are going to

What: Florida Sunshine Dance & Symposium

When: 6.30 p.m.-11 p.m. Friday June 18 9 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturday June 19 10 a.m.-3.30 p.m. Sunday June 20

Or: Days Inn & Conference Center, 2900 N Monroe St

Cost: Prices vary, pre-registration required

Contact: For more information call 850-739-3096 or visit

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