John DePalma + College + A Best Friend


John DePalma

I began Ballroom dancing when...
"When I was in college my best friend was working as a Fred Astaire dance teacher and I was working in retail. He didn’t have a car so, I’d pick him up after work. Usually, I’d go into the studio, chat with people, and stay for the parties. At that time men were a hot commodity, so the women students would pull me out onto the floor and teach me a few moves.

This was the 1970s and the recession hit so my retail hours were cut back. When I went to the studio after finding out my hours were diminished, the studio owner said, ‘How was your day?' I said, ‘Not so good. I need more hours to pay for college’. She said, ‘Why don’t you work here? You’re already here every day, you know all the students and staff, and you come to all the parties!’

So I took my 8-week college break and trained to be a specialist, teaching new students and planning their program. I thought I was just earning money for college, I never expected to make this my career."