Waltz Night

An elegant evening of dancing to the music of the 51 Walden Waltz Orchestra, conducted by Alton Baggett.

Three-Quarter Time in Concord

The annual Waltz Night at 51 Walden is one of the most anticipated social events of the season sponsored by Friends of the Performing Arts in Concord. The facility at 51 Walden St. has a spacious solid wood dance floor that is excellent for ballroom dancing   This event has been a success for more than 20 years and still attracts a full house of enthusiastic ballroom dancers who have little opportunity to enjoy a full evening of waltzes and polkas versus the abundance of swing dance clubs.

The Waltz, born in the 17th century in the suburbs of Vienna and in the alpine region of Austria and was originally reputed to be lowbrow and provincial. In those days, there was something unsavory about a woman being gripped in a man’s embrace while whirling in frenzy around the dance floor. Naturally, the scandalized upper classes could not endure to have the lower classes having all the fun, and so, in time, the waltz finally achieved a degree of legitimacy, and by 1810, the waltz had gained sufficient acceptance among the nobility that Napoleon deemed it necessary to learn the Viennese waltz in order to impress his young fiancé, daughter of the Austrian Emperor.

Reportedly, the first time the waltz was danced in the United States was in Boston in 1834 at an exhibition in Mrs. Otis’ Beacon Hill mansion. Harrison Gray Otis and his wife were noted for their frequent and lavish entertaining. Boston social leaders were aghast at what they called “an indecorous exhibition.”

Franz Lanner and Johann Strauss set the standard for the Viennese Waltz, (a very fast version of the waltz) and by 1900, a typical dance program was three quarter waltzes and one quarter all other dances combined.  Even today, the Vienna (Austria) Balls are popular events and attract dancers from round the world.  On New Year’s Eve, the elegant Kaiserball (Imperial Ball) at the Hofburg Imperial Palace has attracted tourists and Viennese alike. Of course, the crowning glory of Vienna’s or, for that matter, the European ball season, has traditionally been the Opernball, held at Vienna’s venerable State Opera.

In the United States there are few opportunities for waltzers to dance to the strains of a full, live orchestra.  The Friends of the Performing Arts in Concord (MA) take great pride in continuing their annual Waltz Night with festive decorations, gourmet desserts, and a 30-piece orchestra conducted by Mr. Alton Baggett.  The evening is a sight worth viewing and listening to even if one does not dance!  The gowns are beautiful and the dancers float over the solid wooden floor of the historic Concord Armory Building that is now the Performing Arts Center at 51 Walden St.

Julia and Dexter Wang have been ballroom dancing, both socially and competitively, for many years. In 2000, they took some lessons to get ready for their daughter’s wedding and just kept going. They are the current U.S. National Senior 3 American Style 9 Dance Champions. They regularly compete at competitions across the country in both Pro/Am and Amateur divisions. They train regularly at various studios in the greater Boston area.

Leave a Reply