Originally Published: September 9, 2007 9:36 p.m.
PRESCOTT VALLEY - Ballroom dancing - not just a black tie affair anymore.
Just ask a few local enthusiasts who insist it's the latest craze.
"Ballroom dancing is really getting ready to explode," said Janet Hafner, 67, who jumped into the local ballroom dance scene with her husband Pai Young, 77, after moving to Prescott less than two years ago.
Hafner, a competing amateur planning to enter a national ballroom dance competition in February with another local dancer, said she caught the competitive bug from Janet Wagley and Patrick Wilcox, who hold workshops in a studio above their garage with Phoenix instructors Paul Jack and Judy Nixon.
Jack and Nixon organize Phoenix's Galaxy Dance Competition, which brings dance teams from around the country, Wagley said.
Wagley and Wilcox, who are members of a USA Dance chapter in Phoenix, said once they talked their instructors into coming to Prescott, others followed.
"As things have happened, we've had as many as 11 people from Phoenix staying with us on the weekend," Wagley said.
Hafner said she particularly enjoys learning from Jack.
"He knows how to get you to learn ballroom dancing so that when you finish an hour-and-a-half to two-hour workshop, you have four or five steps and you can put them all together and actually go practice them on Friday night," she said.
Hafner met Wagley and Wilcox at the Friday night dances at the Prescott Community Center, organized by Ron and Rebecca Keller, who started the Mile High Ballroom Dance Club in 1999, as well as the dances they initially held at the Adult Center of Prescott.
Wagley said she met Wilcox at the dances as well, and the two traveled around the region taking classes before inviting their instructors in Phoenix to teach workshops in Prescott.
"Little by little, were building a community here of ballroom dancers and competitors," Wagley said.
Wagley said the ages of dancers showing up for workshops range from 20s to 70s, with one student recently in his 80s.
"He's sort of our poster child, you can do this at any age," she said.
Wagley and Patrick entered a Galaxy competition in Phoenix this past weekend and said they try to travel to three or four competitions a year.
They hope to go to a national competition next year, Wilcox said.
USA Dance, a national organization of competitive college and amateur ballroom dancers, recently approved a new Northern Arizona chapter with board members from Prescott and Flagstaff, Hafner said.
Hafner said she hopes new organizations and events sprouting up work together to avoid calendar overlapping and that the "ballroom community in Prescott grows as a whole."
Hafner said she knows of workshops possibly forming at Mile High Middle School and at the Villages at Lynx Creek.
"We have all ages and phases of dancers, which is a lot of fun," she said.