The very first UK Equality Open (UKEO). took place in Wimborne, Dorset on Saturday 16th November 2019. This brand new Ballroom and Latin Dance Competition is about opening the dance floor up to everyone, irrelevant of gender, age or ability. Whilst ‘Same-Sex Dancing’ is extremely topical at the moment with both ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ and ‘Dancing on Ice’ profiling same gender partnerships on TV for the first time this year, the UKEO takes acceptance one step further and encourages ‘Equality Dancing’, offering competitive opportunities to couples all around the UK whether they desire to lead or follow at any point during the performance.
The aim of the competition is to work with a particular region of the UK leading up to the competition, providing taster classes and encouraging schools to promote male/male, female/female and reverse role partnerships, removing gender from the dance form and teaching everyone to both lead and follow as well as encourage beginners to the competitive scene at a very early stage.
The UKEO is also proud to include Wheelchair Freestyle Showdance as part of the programme, which has received a huge amount of support and excitement across the wider dance community. It was hugely successful as part of the programme for the 10. Gay Games in Paris last year, and this year we saw the return of Gold Medallists Gary Lyness & Paula Moulton along with a beginner couple of theirs from ‘Strictly Wheels’ in Manchester.
Over 100 competitors took to the dance floor in a day full of Men’s, Women’s and Open (Gender-Free) ballroom and latin categories, from new starter couples through to the current European and World Champions as well as the inclusion of Showdance Couples and Showdance Teams. The atmosphere in the room was electric, with support from friends, family and fellow competitors from early doors right through to late evening.
It is this supportive atmosphere that arguably makes an equality dance competition much more enjoyable than the more mainstream alternatives. Pete Meager, promoter and Master of Ceremonies for the event says ‘We’re delighted that our dream has come true, we are now all competing in one place as one family – all we want is the opportunity for everyone to know and feel the love of ballroom and latin dancing in their lives’.
For more information on how you can participate in #UKEO20 in Manchester on Saturday 14th November 2020, visit www.equalitydance.co.uk