been writing “The Spotlight” for a long time, but now I have a special gift for all of you. This story covers over 45 years of the Staten Island Ballroom Dancers, Inc., as seen through the eyes of
two long time members, Rose Rutigliano and Lou Motola. Rose is a founding member
and Lou was President of our club in 1973 and 1974. I personally thank Lou Motola
for writing this story…Paul Stallone.
dancing was such an important pastime to a group of avid dancers on Staten Island that they decided to get together and form
a dance club. This became a reality on November 21, 1961 in the Forest Dance
Studio when charter members Charles Fricke, Les King, Seymour Lasher, Charles Roveda, Anton Ossman, Jim Smith, Howard Sohm
and Art Spaulding founded the Staten Island Ballroom Dancers, Inc. (referred to in this text as “the club”). Officers were elected, committees formed, and $5.00 was collected from each couple
to purchase needed supplies. A lot of time and effort was spent in writing the
bi-laws, constitution and working rules. A charter was prepared, legal steps
taken, and it was time to incorporate.
5, 1961, an open meeting was held in the Forest Dance Studio where invited married couples who had taken dance lessons and
showed a keen interest in dancing where inducted into the newly founded club. It
was at this very first meeting that Sam and Rose Rutigliano joined the club. While
Sam has passed on, Rose continues as an active member of the club to this day.
there was a limit of 50 member couples (changed to 75 member couples in 1973.) Dances
were held at the Plaza Casino, where there was occasionally live music. The public
was invited in order to raise funds for the newly founded organization. Once
equipment was purchased, a dance committee was formed to play music at the Plaza Casino dances and only members and guests
were allowed to attend. At first, only drinks and coffee were provided with boxed
cupcakes placed on each table. The dancers brightened up the casino as they worked
their magic gliding in the line of direction in perfect harmony and clad in gowns, gloves and suits.
then moved to St. Adalbert’s two halls where members met on the Saturday morning prior to a dance to “set up.”
This involved cleaning the old hall, carrying tables and chairs from the new
hall, putting up decorations and the club’s banner, stringing lights, purchasing
ice and snacks, ordering soda, cutting paper table coverings for each table, placing centerpieces, etc, That evening, coffee was made and donuts were served.
everything had to be reversed at the end of the evening. All the equipment, music,
decorations, supplies, etc. had to be taken home and stored in someone’s house/garage until the next affair. A similar
routine happened in the other hall (the gym).
BYOB dances where members mostly supplied their own refreshments. On special
occasions, we made trays of cold cuts or catered buffet dinners. It was tons
of work but it was a lot of fun as well!!
Adalbert’s was no longer available, we rented Colony Hall where the same procedure as above took place. There was no air conditioner and we remember one hot night when we opened all the windows, and the mosquitoes
had a feast!!
held dances at St. Peter’s Church Hall and Staten Island Academy where this procedure of transporting materials back
and forth continued; however, these halls had air conditioning.
we had formal holiday dances at Wagner College, Labetti Post, the Crystal Room, and presently, The Old Bermuda Inn. New Years Eve affairs continued at the Crystal Room for many years.
These events were chaired by Tony Conte and Lou Motola. Dinners or buffets
were provided at these events.
early years, executive meetings took place in the homes of the presidents. Regular
meetings and socials were held in several places including Joe’s Question Mark, Huttner Pasqualini Post, Christ the
King Council, and currently at Moravian Hall. In additional to business and social
dancing, special events were held such as the Children/Grandchildren Holiday parties, Christmas parties complete with Santa
Claus on occasion. Traditionally, our pizza nights were always fun and our close
family-like greetings of a hug or a kiss are well known. Everyone knew each other
by first name. This included their children.
our own club functions, we also got together and went to dances in New Jersey; like the Imperial Ballroom, Mehegan’s,
Shaffer’s, and Kathy’s. There were weekend trips to the Concord,
Brown’s, The Nevele, and even cruises which often found a group for the “Family” known as the “Ballroom.”
``Because of this bond of friendship, we continue to meet as a group for sad occasions, as well as to offer support to our
members who may have lost love ones; and cards are sent to members who are hospitalized; and so, our ballroom club is so much
more than just a dance club.
been so fortunate to be part of this wonderful ballroom club, a gift given to us by our charter members, and kept alive by
the presidents, officers, and committees who have devoted their time so generously; and all of our members whose interest
and support have kept us strong and close through these 45 years.
forward to many more dances as we take time to salute our Ballroom Club, The Staten Island Ballroom Dancers, Inc., and as
it begins its 46th year.