Ballroom Rules – Review

Ballroom Rules is an Australian documentary about same-sex ballroom dancing, and it follows several couples as they prepare and then compete at the Gay Games in Germany (2010). It is really great to see homegrown documentaries and this was such a great surprise. Ballroom dancing probably showed up on a lot of radar’s here after Baz Luhrmann’s Strictly Ballroom back in 1992. Sure people knew about it before then, but I think the film and its success really brought attention to the sport. That film was about over coming the odds and challenging the rules, Ballroom Rules does that as well, just in a different way. In Strictly Ballroom Scott wants to dance his own steps, with his own partner, Ballroom Rules is about dancing the ballroom steps but with a same-sex partner.

I compare the two because there are similarities, but the stories are different. Ballroom has always been known as a sport that pairs a male and a female, with the male leading. Anny Salerni started up a school for same-sex couples to dance together and for these dancers to be able to compete. The official mainstream Ballroom doesn’t acknowledge the same-sex dance partners, which is why Anny perused the cause. The couples shown in the film are passionate about dancing, some are partners in real life, others are just dance partners, you know just like in the mainstream competition. They are talented bunch; each with their own lives and drama’s and love for dancing. You have Bridget for example who was diagnosed with breast cancer, and dancing for her was therapeutic and helped her through the battle. You have Tania who has a bad knee but fights it in order to dance; each person is different with their own goals. They are all an interesting bunch, and more than anything I just wanted to see them have the chance to compete, which in the end they did thanks to the Gay Games.

Like anything, for me it was made clear that the mainstream Ballroom dancing is behind in the times. People still have stupid hang ups, and honestly I can’t see any reason why anyone shouldn’t be allowed to compete there (unless they absolutely can’t dance, but again that’s what lessons are for). I’ve always seen the ballroom dancing and as something that has a lead and a follower, not a male and female position. In fact I like leading when dancing, so why should I be restricted because of my own sex? It is just silly, and this documentary really shows why those old ideas are so out of date. This core group and the wonderful athletes at the Gay Games are fantastic dancers; anyone who does not give them a fair shot is just being stupid.

This is really enjoyable documentary; the core group are great to be around! I mean age, size, gender, really does not matter; it’s the passion for the sport that binds them all together. Also being allowed to have the partner they chose, which honestly should be something allowed anywhere. The only fault I could find was that the structure of the film itself was a little off and sometimes a bit all over the place, but the second half was quite sound and it flowed beautifully. It is an important film, and I really hope it opens eyes to the situations that people who want a same-sex partner face and just how much fun and hard work ballroom dancing is! Well done to everyone involved!


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