The idea of forming a ballroom dance club at Duke University began with four graduate students–Sijia Wei, Peter Horvath, Anne Draelos, and Mark Draelos–who shared a common love for ballroom dancing. After getting to know each other at an off-campus dance studio, they wanted to bring ballroom dance back to Duke. While many other dance styles already existed on campus, ballroom dance is unique for its set of partner dances, which originated from different cultures and can be enjoyed both socially and competitively.
In 2017, Angel Shi, then a beginner dancer, reached out to the graduate students with similar hopes of creating a ballroom dance community on campus. With the support of Missy Daffron, Duke Recreation & Physical Education instructor for Social and Latin Dance, Angel and her friend Wendy Dong established an official student group: Duke Ballroom Dance Club (DBDC). During one of the first recruitment classes, they met Amelia Bell, a ballet dancer who later became the organization’s Treasurer. Under the leadership of these seven founding members, DBDC grew into a loving dance family with over 40 participants, offering ballroom classes and socials to the Duke community.
Within a few months of forming, DBDC attended its first regional ballroom dance competition and received many awards. In the next two years, the club participated in five showcases, four local competitions, and a national competition, ranking 8th place nationally. After just three years, the group officially became a part of Duke Sport Clubs, changing its identity to Duke Club Ballroom Dance (DCBD). Today, DCBD continues to provide a comfortable environment to learn how to social dance, to build confidence for expressing oneself through dance, and to spread the joy of ballroom dance to the greater Duke community.