Arts and Entertainment

Making ballroom dancers out of the people of Kitsap

Jerry and Becky Deeter teach ballroom dance through CK Community Schools and Olympic College - Bill Mickelson/Staff photo
Jerry and Becky Deeter teach ballroom dance through CK Community Schools and Olympic College
— image credit: Bill Mickelson/Staff photo

From those dressed in Levi’s and sneakers to those in slacks and dancing shoes, most of the guys in Jerry Deeter’s intro to ballroom dance class approach the man with a wide smile.

The ladies at the side of their respective beau wear a likewise contented grin, beaming their appreciation for the Robert Redford-esque instructor. Deeter himself, even after 24 years of teaching ballroom dancing for the Central Kitsap Community Schools program, seems just as happy to be there as his invigorated pupils.

As he approaches retirement from the state Department of Ecology, he surmises that milestone won’t stop him from teaching the ballroom dance course.

While, in person, the class is a gathering of mostly gray-haired guys and their gals learning the basic ballroom steps in the Fairview Junior High multipurpose room, in spirit, the dance transports the group to a more high-class state of mind.

An after-hours janitor wheels by with a creeky handcart that squeaks and squeals all the way down the adjacent hall bringing the dancers back to reality. But from my wallflower perspective, the ballroom state of mind is still evident in the dancers’ head-in-the-clouds-type of smiles.

“Forward, touch ... side together ... back, touch ... side together,” Deeter cues the steps to the most basic of ballroom dances — the foxtrot.

From that basic step, Deeter will go on to teach the Manhattan step — a simple side step and three different turns — in this session. And as the class goes on through its six-week run, he will involve more steps to the foxtrot and move on to introduce other basic ballroom dances, like the waltz and the tango.

“They all have a commonality to them,” Jerry’s wife Becky Deeter said of the dances, noting that if students take well to the foxtrot, they will also likely pick up easily on the basic waltz and tango steps.

The couple has been making ballroom dancers out of people in Kitsap, through both CK Community Schools and Olympic College, for almost 30 years, always for the love of it.

And it’s good exercise, Jerry noted.

“It’s rewarding to see people taking the class and going on from there,” he continued. “It’s really neat to see them out on the dance floor later on.”

But one of the problems facing those people who go through the course and learn the sophisticated steps, Deeter noted, is that once it’s complete, unless they belong to a local club or take a trip to Seattle, there’s not many places in Kitsap where one can go out to show off their stuff.

Luckily for those in that vein, this time of year heralds in the 11th annual Valentine’s Day Sweetheart Dance, a casually formal ballroom affair hosted Feb. 9 at Poulsbo’s First Lutheran Church (the church with the iconic steeple over downtown), located near the corner of 4th and Hostmark St. Tickets are $10 per person.

Jerry and Becky will be teaching a free ballroom dance refresher class for ticket holders from 7-9 p.m. Feb. 8 at the church, and there is still time to get in on the current beginners or intermediate lessons through CK Community Schools.

The Deeter’s next intro to ballroom dancing six-week session will begin later this spring at Olympic College in Bremerton. For more information on the ballroom dance classes or the Valentine’s Day Sweetheart Dance, call Jerry at (360) 779-4686.

Jerry and Becky Deeter teach beginning and intermediate intro to ballroom dancing through CK Community Schools at 7 and 8:30 p.m. Thursdays at Fairview Junior High School — 8107 Central Valley Road in East Bremerton — through Feb. 14. Cost is $70 per couple, $35 single; $60 per couple, $30 single for seniors for the six-week session. The next intro session will begin later in April, while the Deeters will lead a tango-intensive workshop beginning March 6.

Info: Call Jerry at (360) 779-4686.

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