by Shaun Knittel -
SGN Staff Writer
Century Ballroom's 13th Anniversary
Inside the newly renovated OddFellows Building (915 E. Pine St.) sits a Capitol Hill landmark. For 13 years, Hallie Kuperman's Century Ballroom - with its 2,000 square feet of dance floor, full bar, and old world feel - has been home to social dancers looking to dance the night away. On February 27, Kuperman celebrated 13 years of dance, family, and community with hundreds of Century Ballroom patrons who showed up to say "Happy Anniversary" by way of dance.
Kuperman told SGN that, for her, Century Ballroom is more than just a dance floor. "What we do here is about community and family," she said, "from everyone who works here or has worked here, to the thousands upon thousands who have graced the Ballroom's dance floor and stage. My work brings me an immense amount of happiness, but really it's all of the people who are involved with Century Ballroom who make it joyful."
The anniversary party was a mix of music and dance. In the weeks leading up to the event, Kuperman asked Century Ballroom patrons to e-mail her their three favorite songs they liked to dance to. The resulting song list covered the spectrum of style; anniversary revelers danced to everything from hip-hop and swing to salsa and pop into the early morning hours.
As any small business owner would tell you, 13 years is considered a success. Starting off with just the ballroom, Kuperman has expanded her LGBT-friendly space to the Tin Table, a elegant and affordable restaurant across the hall from Century Ballroom; West Hall, a modern dance space with a stage, also housed inside the OddFellows Building; and Halo (500 E. Pike St.), a loft space where dance classes are held several nights a week.
"Over the past 13 years, Century Ballroom has changed in clientele due to the immense growth of Capitol Hill," Kuperman told SGN. "Although I'm not opposed to new things, I am disappointed that what has suffered the most are the many small arts organizations, and I don't think we're done yet."
Riding the winds of change, Kuperman began to change her approach. "I went from teaching a few classes a week, predominately to the Gay and Lesbian community, to teaching hundreds of people each week where we offer upwards of 30 different classes each session."
For Kuperman, who is openly Lesbian, "The mission of Century Ballroom has always been to bring people together through social dance to break down barriers."
"We offer Queer dance classes and host two dances monthly geared towards the LGBT community," she said. "Again, in my mind, the idea is to put everyone on the dance floor together."
Over the years, Kuperman has opened the doors to her businesses for the LGBT community for a number of workshops, classes, and various festivities. "I've been lucky enough to have been successful, and if I can give back to the community by offering space, then that's a great thing," she said.
Kuperman told SGN it is impossible to pick one or two of her best memories over the past 13 years. "When you throw dances seven nights a week, teach almost that many days a week for 13 years, host internationally acclaimed musicians and dance legends, produce cabarets, open new spaces, watch people meet and fall in love, offer a great place to eat and drink and be merry, I don't know how you could choose," she said.
Social dancing is a scary concept for many people, Kuperman said. But she says anyone could learn. "Anyone can dance; not everyone can be a professional dancer. I'm inspired to dance by music, some are inspired to dance just because it's a form of expression through movement," Kuperman explained. "I will challenge anyone who says they can't, to give it a try because in some instances it really will change your life."
"Dancing is good for your soul," she concluded. "It's healing. It's non-verbal communication. It's exercise, it's entertaining, and it's romantic. It makes you smile."
For more information about Century Ballroom, Tin Table, West Hall, and Halo, including reserving the spaces, upcoming events, and dance classes, visit Kuperman online at www.centuryballroom.com.
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