Twenty-one years ago, two full buses containing spirited dancers from across the United States made their way across England and Wales. For a whole week, students were introduced to the world of competitive ballroom dancing. Bill Bennett, a USABDA member supporting the growth of ballroom in colleges, had organized a full week of sightseeing and competitions to expose American students to England’s ballroom experience. Despite spending a night on a London bar floor to keep the trip affordable, the spark was lit to spread ballroom across college campuses around the nation.
Elizabeth Earhart, Jim Paduano, and Warren Dew, the three MIT affiliates on the England trip, returned ready to begin their own program at MIT. The team was officially founded in January 1990, when group practices were organized. Three years later, the team was recognized as a team sport by MIT.
The team offered classes and group practices, in preparation for the competitions available to college students. Commonwealth Classic included its first “University” challenge at Wonderland Ballroom in November 1989. Within the next few years, colleges began hosting their own events. In 1997, MIT held its first competition in the DuPont gym. It was quite large for a first competition, with 40-50 couples registered in each of the beginner and advanced events.