Anne and Norm Berge twirl to the music during a night of ballroom dancing at The Crossing recently.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
Ballroom dancing has become a favored American pastime. We see it depicted on film and television, and there’s even a World Series of Dance.
So where can a Kenai Peninsula couple, interested in the trend of ballroom dance, go to mingle with other such couples? Where can they find a dance floor and a band? Not to mention dinner and a bottle of wine?
The Crossing in Soldotna offers all these amenities, every other Saturday night. Cherie Curry, who owns and operates The Crossing with her husband, Scott, sees this as an opportunity to increase choices for adults looking for a night life in the area.
She said they offer “another venue for adults. It’s a smoke-free environment for one thing, and then, another alternative entertainment ... we’re real limited in the winter as to what we can do and where we can go. And so, this way they can have a nice dinner, a nice bottle of wine, dance and enjoy. No rush.”
The idea caught on. The crowd for dancing at The Crossing has included a fairly consistent number of couples. Considering that the dance floor is 12 feet by 12 feet, it can be crowded.
“They’re sometimes fighting for floor. From eight to 15 couples are there to dance. It’s wonderful,” Curry said.
But it’s not quite “Strictly Ballroom” -- Baz Luhrmann’s 1992 film about the cut-throat world of Australian ballroom. At The Crossing, no one throws elbows.
“They do a lot of different ballroom-style dances, and some of them are very good and trained very well. But they take turns, you know. They don’t want to be too crowded out there. ... And then every once in a while a new couple shows up that has heard about us, and has great skills. It’s very entertaining. “ said Curry.
For Curry, these evenings are more than a way to attract business on a Saturday night; they are a part of the cultural mission of the business she and her husband started.
“I’m usually just in awe of the dancers, because I’m a terrible dancer. ... I think that some people do come in just to watch. The music is awesome. When we opened the restaurant we really wanted to support the performing arts, and I think this is another way to help promote that,” she said.
Curry is a musician, herself, and involved with the Kenai Peninsula Orchestra. It gratifies her to see the rapport between the music and the dance.
“I think it’s a compliment to the musicians when people are excited about dancing. The beat’s good, the rhythm’s good, you know, so I think ... musicians love it. We had one night where the weather was real bad and not a lot of dancers came out, and the energy is there, but not what it is when ... people are dancing to your music. It’s exciting.”
The Bob Ramponi Trio has been a staple for the ballroom dancers at The Crossing.
“Bob Ramponi Trio has been very popular. And sometimes when we do a big night they bring in others. An Elmendorf trumpet player that comes, a jazz pianist from Anchorage comes. ... I know that there are musicians of that caliber here. We need to get them to wake up and dust off their cases and come out,” said Curry.
She thinks it would be great to increase the musician participation in playing jazz and swing for the dance nights at the restaurant.
“I’d love to have more jazz musicians audition. ... There are more jazz musicians hiding in the woodwork that haven’t come out yet. I think it would be wonderful. I’d love to get more people involved,” Curry said.
The next opportunity for ballroom dancers, or anyone interested in checking out the scene, will be Saturday, and every other Saturday following. Dancing at The Crossing is from 6:30 p.m. until 10:30 p.m. For more information, call The Crossing at 262-1906.
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