26th annual USA Dance gala back for New Year’s Eve after temporary cancellation

The  Tidewater Chapter USA Dance New Year’s Eve Gala this year will have half the workshops on half as many nights as previous years. But it still took twice the effort to plan, said organizer and years-long board member Regina Kalbacher.

The 26th annual dinner and dance event, which begins 1.pm. Dec. 31 at  the Renaissance Portsmouth-Norfolk Waterfront Hotel, almost didn’t happen at all. The 2014 iteration went over budget, its primary organizer walked away from planning future events, and no one filled the void for quite some time, Kalbacher said.

The event is the Virginia Beach-based dance chapter’s largest and most lavish event; it can attract 250 or so dancers in an evening, she said. It raises money to send children to dance competitions.

Planning typically begins almost a year in advance, in February. The logistics involve renting a temporary floor, booking international dancing instructors and securing a convention-type venue to host, Kalbacher said.

By this past summer, planning for the 2016 event had still not begun. Studios and groups that usually attend began making plans of their own in lieu of the gala, Kalbacher said.

A message on the chapter’s website said the gala had been cancelled but that the organization’s board reconsidered after hearing “the many requests” to hold it. They reversed course and plans began for a two-day event.

The gala “was a tradition years in the making,” Kalbacher said. “And if we just stopped, people would make new ones. If we didn’t do something, it would be over.”

So, she mustered help in the form of new board members and volunteers and began planning. Groups that had made other plans canceled those and chipped in too, she said.

Within a few months, she found a cheaper floor, local instructors who would be less expensive and a new venue.

This year’s gala will have 30 workshops for dancers of all ages, skill types and marital status, Kalbacher said. The number of workshops is down from the event’s typical 60, but organizers picked those that are most attend each year — the ones on nights with dinner.

After dinner, the dance floor will be open until midnight, when there will be a champagne toast, breakfast and more dancing, Kalbacher said.

“Next year, we”ll be back in full swing, with four nights,” she said.

Tickets start at $15 for single workshops. The price increases to $80 for six workshops and goes to $109 for dinner and dancing on Dec. 31. Other prices vary.


Have a story idea or news tip? Contact city hall reporter Judah Taylor at Judah@SouthsideDaily.com or 757-490-2750.

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