The Lore of the Century Center Floor

March 01, 2011

At the March 11 dance, Triangle Country Dancers will celebrate the 10th anniversary of the wonderful dance floor in the Century Center. In the following article, Bob Proctor recounts how the dance floor came to be.

Creating a Dancing Space in Century Hall, 1997-98

In 1997 the mayor of Carrboro and a couple of the aldermen wanted to take out a $3 million loan to buy and to remodel the Carrboro Baptist Church, but they needed to demonstrate support from the community. (A bond issue for a previously envisioned community center had been defeated in 1991.) Sylvia Hubbard and Barbara Ziff (then the president of the Triangle Swing Dance Society) helped me to ensure a good turnout at the public hearing. Nearly all of the twenty-odd people who spoke in favor of the purchase came from the broad dance community. The mayor later said that this could have helped gain the support of the other two aldermen who joined the 5-2 majority.

In 1998 a number of contra dancers, swing dancers, and members of other dance communities joined together to form Dancing Friends of the Carrboro Century Center (CCC). We raised roughly $32,000 in donations from scores of individual contributors, ranging in size from $1 to $3000. TCD donated $2000 and TSDS donated $3000. Fortunately this was just before a worldwide jump in the costs of construction materials. So the funds we raised were sufficient to buy a top-of-the-line floating maple floor marketed for aerobics classes. There are no joists under this floor,only a rubber cushion every one foot in each direction. If a 100-pound dancer drops one foot onto a wood-on-concrete floor, then 80 foot-pounds of energy are dissipated in her joints. If she drops instead onto the CCC floor, then only 27 foot-pounds are dissipated in her joints.

Virtually all (or all) of the rents paid by dance groups to hall owners go toward maintenance and management, cleaning, insurance, utilities, salaries, refinishing the floor, etc. Little (if any) goes toward the mortgage interest, and probably none goes toward the original costs of the land and the building. Nationwide, the buildings we dance in were typically built scores of years ago by community groups ranging from the Sons of Norway to the Grange to the Baptists to the Elks. It's nice that our generation got a chance to kick in a tiny bit of a capital contribution!

My fellow members of the DFCCC committee included Sylvia Hubbard, Alice Tropman, Artura Lobo, Steve Benezra, Linda Salguero, Bill Estes, Donald Hughes, Margret Mueller, Gary Peterson, Ed Cox, Tom O'Dwyer, Mark Silver, Elizabeth Jackson, Joel Carlin, Kathy McHugh and Larry Rowan (I'm sorry if I missed anyone!).

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