Life's such a whirl for dance-mad Vicki
Ong Chin Huat
Vicki Wong found she had lots of time on her hands when her children went off to boarding school in the UK, so she decided to take up dancing lessons.
Little did she know she would get so hooked on the cha-cha and rumba that she would open her own dancing school.
Dance Culture, opened two months ago in Causeway Bay, teaches the tango, waltz, cha-cha, rumba and, on Friday nights, the salsa.
And Vicki couldn't have timed things better.
For the past couple of years ballroom dancing has been gaining in popularity among the ball-going set of Hong Kong and apart from mah jong and shopping, has become a favourite pastime for tai-tais.
'I actually opened my own studio so I could practise dancing every day,' says Vicki, who has already employed four dancing instructors to teach in her 3,000 sq ft studio.
'This trend for ballroom dancing picked up after 1997 and I think it is China's influence,' says Vicki, who after studying dance for only two years has already won a gold medal from the Imperial Society of Dancing Teachers.
'People who do business in China often come back and say after their business dinner their clients would take them ballroom dancing.' Vicki says that the hit Japanese movie Shall We Dance? had also added fuel to the craze. She says some of her tai-tai friends have given up golf because being outdoors is too hot and the sun is not good for their complexions.
'For most ladies, learning dancing is an ideal way to keep fit and improve their figure,' says Vicki.
'I have gotten one dress size smaller since I started dancing.' And it's not just for women. Vicki says more and more men are starting to learn ballroom dancing, making up 40 per cent of her studio's students.
'Men are beginning to realise that dancing releases tension and stress,' she says. 'I have men who come in the morning before going to the office to take a cha-cha class.' Exercise apart, Vicki says that unlike aerobics, learning to dance can enhance your social standing and can be useful in many situations.
'Dancing has become part of the social life in Hong Kong,' she says. 'Almost every ball now has ballroom dancing as the entertainment.' At the recent Hong Kong Council of Early Childhood Education and Services fund-raising ball, Vicki impressed everyone with her deft footwork by performing a number with her instructor.
'When you dance you concentrate on the music and your steps. You forget all your problems for that moment, and that's the appeal of dancing.'