A Dance Floor Odyssey ....

September 01, 2016

You might think TCD is just the tiniest bit obsessed with shoes: greeting you at the door with a shoe policy sign and shoe brushes and tacky paper on the floor. That's because the history of TCD is a story of dance venues loved and lost--a path of destruction traced by our dancing feet.

First up, in the late 1980s, due to floor damage, we lost the Presbyterian Student Center in downtown Chapel Hill. Then we danced for several years at the Carolina Friends School gym in Chapel Hill. It was a nice big space, big enough for people's kids to nap on sleeping bags at the edge of the dance floor. Sure, one night there was the little episode where we somehow managed to drop the piano off the stage onto the floor (yes, we helped pay for its replacement)! Finally though, we were asked to leave , as the frequent refinishings of the floor were getting to be too much.

Meanwhile, CSDA (the folks who currently produce the third Friday dances) were having their own problems. Both Glenwood School and Estes School in Chapel Hill issued warnings that the floor damage was excessive. Shoe policies were enacted by both groups.

Pleasant Green Community Center

Luckily for TCD, we found the Pleasant Green Community Center in Durham. It was a smaller space, but the floor had bounce and character. It was not subject to sanding and coating with polyurethane, so it could not be ruined in the way the other floors could be. We were happy (if cramped) there from 1996 to 2011!! Beloved caller Gene Hubert wrote an excellent piece extolling its charms.

In 1997, we heard that the town of Carrboro was considering buying the Baptist Church to use as a community center. A group of local dancers raised $32,000 (TCD contributed $2000) to install a cushioned hardwood floor rather than the concrete/tile abomination the town was considering. This is the Carrboro Century Center we dance in today. Despite having a shoe policy, the floor has been refinished each December since our first dance there in March 2001. At the time of fund-raising, the projected lifespan for the floor was thought to be at least 30 years. Now the town has told us that they will need to completely replace the floor in 2021.

Even one night of contra is enough to wreak havoc. In 2006, a special dance at Meredith College in Raleigh resulted in so much damage, the college refinished the floor immediately...to the tune of $2000.

A good hardwood floor with "bounce" is hard to come by. Please help us keep the ones we have now by not tracking grit onto the floor with your street shoes and by dancing in soft-soled non-street shoes. The floor you save will be your own!

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