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Ballroom Dancers' Federation

See also: Categories: Organizations, Federation

Category: Organizations
Officially Founded: 1958
Current President: Kenny Welsh
Current Honorary President: Anthony Hurley
Headquarters: United Kingdom


The Ballroom Dancers' Federation was originally founded in 1958 to give a voice to competitive Ballroom Dancers.


In October of 1946, an organization known as the Competitors' Federation was formed. However, not long afterwards, it was disbanded. The Ballroom Dancers’ Federation was then formed in 1958, with Mr. Hugh Carter taking the role as the first Chairman.

There was a desire to further goodwill and cooperation between the Federation and the now named British Dance Council, and others who wished to utilize the professional services of the Federation members.

Delegates from the Executive Committee of the Federation sit on the board of directors for the British Dance Council. The Federation sees a major part of its role as bringing about changes in the BDC. For example, the abolition of the notorious Rule Four of the previous World Dance and DanceSport Council, now the World Dance Council and the World DanceSport Federation. The other was a day of collaboration involving the English Amateur DanceSport Association, Festival 2000 and our own-run Star Professional Championships to present a spectacle of dancing from its very beginning to the pinnacle of our profession.

The present Executive Committee continues to innovate, and further ideas in pursuit of high quality dancing, a legacy handed down from our illustrious past masters. As a body, the BDF has always tried to be visionary, thanks mainly to its officers, both past and present, who devote time and energy to promoting the DanceSport Industry. The BDF is still working towards improving, developing and innovating our industry.

The Federation exists to establish the qualities and standards for competitors, promoters and coaches/teachers.


The Ballroom Dancers’ Federation is a leading organization aiming to promote and protect the DanceSport Industry.

The purpose of the BDF is:

1. To promote the spirit of good fellowship and sportsmanship and to protect and advance the interests of professional competitors and professionals in general.

2. To further the goodwill and cooperation between those who utilize the services of its members and the governing DanceSport bodies.

These general aims are interpreted mainly from the point of view of professional competitors, though many of its activities do also benefit amateur competitors.

The Role of the BDF

The Ballroom Dancers' Federation was formed more than 50 years ago. Its formation was born out of the need for Professional competitors to unite in order to raise the standards of conditions under which they compete. Since those early days, the role of the BDF in today’s dance world has evolved immeasurably.

Below are the main areas in which the BDF is active:


The original raison d’être (the most important reason) is still very much in evidence today. This takes the form of four delegates who attend British Dance Council meetings to represent the interests of BDF members and generally nurture the well-being of the competition side of the business. This includes a seat on the influential International Professional Affairs Committee as well as the main Board of Directors. In addition, BDF delegates can make proposals to be forwarded by the BDC to the World Dance Council on such matters as rule changes, etc.


Biennially, the BDF organizes the International Congress that takes place during the British Open Championships in May. This employs Lecturers with a vast range of knowledge who lecture to a very appreciative audience comprised of dancers from the four corners of the globe. Of particular benefit to BDF members is that for the past few years, entry has been free of charge for both days of the Congress for members of two years or more standing.

The BDF, although predominantly concerned with Professionals, recognizes the importance of nurturing the talent of young dancers. The earlier they can be made aware of, and gain an understanding of, the important principles of Ballroom and Latin-American dancing, the greater their chances of realizing their potential as adults. With this in mind, the BDF has from time to time organized Youth Training Camps, which have included young couples from the ages of 10 – 20 years old.

The opportunities for Professionals to come together and freely discuss their beliefs regarding the technical and artistic aspects of dancing were virtually non-existent. The BDF has therefore in the recent past offered the opportunity for any interested Professionals to attend an Open Forum, where opinions could be freely imparted with like-minded dancers/teachers.

Organizing of Events

The Star Championships of the 1950s were some of the most prestigious titles contested by Professional competitors. Following a period when they were not run and not wishing the titles to be lost into oblivion, the BDF resurrected the titles by taking on the organizing of the event. In recent years the Star Championships have taken on a new lease of life with a new venue and the addition of a Pro/Am showcase, which could in future be the seeds of growth of Pro/Am competitions.

One of the most spectacular events in the dancing calendar is the Night of 100 Stars. This was the brainchild of former BDF Chairman and President, Sonny Binick, who wished to present the world’s best Professional couples in Cabaret-style performances. Each year the couples surpass themselves with ever-better Cabarets.

To organize a World or European Championship is a major task. It seems that there was no one or any organization in Great Britain willing to take this on. The BDF therefore stepped in and for some time now has presented either a World or European Ballroom or Latin-American Championship in Great Britain at least every second year. The expense of organizing such a major event is so enormous that even a sold out Blackpool Winter Gardens Empress Ballroom is insufficient to cover the costs. Fortunately, the BDF has benefited from generous sponsors and the shortfall is made up from BDF Funds.

At one particular Championship some years ago, which was being aired on television, the Executive Committee developed a formula, where the competitors danced an additional performance in which a combination of all five dances was performed without a break. At the time this was known as “Segue” and its popularity became such that World and European Segue Championships came into being in parallel with the standard Championships. This was the beginning of what are today known as Classic and South American Showdance Championships.


The BDF Awards were introduced in order to give public recognition to people who had, in the BDF’s view, given outstanding service to dancing. The selection of Award recipients is given great thought by the selection committee and the Awards are highly coveted by the Profession.


The BDF assists its members in a variety of ways. Members can write to the Secretary and all correspondence is given full consideration by the Executive Committee. If necessary, members’ concerns can be brought up at BDC meetings as explained earlier. As well as this, BDF funds are used to assist couples representing Great Britain in World and European Championships with their travel expenses.


Since its inception, the Federation has been responsible for inaugurating many events that have become part of the British dance calendar.

  • The International Congress held biennially at the British Open Championships in Blackpool, where lectures on all aspects of our profession are presented.
  • The Night of 100 Stars is a showcase for our DanceSport industry.
  • The present World Championships known as Classic Show Dance and South-American Show Dance, were originally called Segue events, which were also the innovation of the BDF.
  • Twenty-five years ago, the Federation resurrected the Star Championships, originally run by the now defunct Star Evening Newspaper in the famous Earls Court Exhibition Hall. Later the Championship was held in the Great Room of the Grosvenor House on Park Lane together with a dinner dance called the Star Ball. During this period, the BDF awards where introduced and have now grown to be one of the most prestigious award ceremonies in the world today.
  • The Ballroom Dancers’ Federation has undertaken the responsibility of organizing European and World Championship events granted by the World Dance Council to Great Britain. This has been achieved with the support of generous sponsors.

The funding of the Federation comes from many different areas; membership fees, functions, video commissions, patronage and sponsorship.

History of Officials

The year of 1958 saw the first elected Chairman of the BDF, Mr. Hugh Carter, who four years later in 1964 was replaced by Mr. Charles Jacobs following Carter's sudden resignation.

In 1965, Mr. Sonny Binick was elected at the Annual General Meeting and reigned for 26 years. It was during this period, with the help of Vice Chairman Mr. Bob Burgess and Honorary Secretary Mr. Walter Laird, that the organization grew to the prominence the organization enjoys today.

In 1991, Mr. Sonny Binick was elevated to Honorary President. The Vice Chairman, Mr. Bob Burgess, was elected as Chairman and remained there for two years after which some time he was elevated to Honorary Vice President along with Mr. Walter Laird.

1993 saw the election of Mr. Anthony Hurley, who was to remain as Chairman until his retirement in 2001. He was originally supported by his Vice Chairman Mr. Richard Gleave OBE, and later by his very close friend Mr. Keith Burton with Mr. Norman White as Honorary Secretary. Mr. Anthony Hurley was then elevated to Honorary President and shortly afterwards Mr. Norman White, a very longstanding Honorary Secretary, and a very longstanding Honorary Treasurer, Mrs. Joy Weller, were also made Honorary Vice Presidents. In more recent times, Mr. Richard Gleave has also been made an Honorary Vice President.

2001 was the year Mr. Kenny Welsh was elected as Chairman supported by Mr. Steve Powell as Vice Chairman and Mr. David Sycamore, Honorary Secretary. Mr. Graham Oswick took over from Mr. David Sycamore in 2009 with David still being an active member of the Executive Committee as Assistant Secretary.

The Executive Committee is more hardworking now than it has ever been, and is more involved with the dancing industry in many more diverse projects.

Executive Committee

Committee Members

Ratings, Reviews & Comments

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