Between Dances

A community of urban ballroom dancers in Detroit has been decimated by covid. But the survivors aim to keep on dancing.

Dancing Feet

Dancers at the Highland Park Elks Lodge in August 2022. Photo by J. Lester Feder.

Posted originally in The Washington Post Magazine on February 2, 2022.

Charlotte Andrews has hazy memories from the three weeks she spent on a ventilator in the early part of the pandemic: struggling so hard to disconnect the machines keeping her alive that the hospital staff tied down her hands. A nurse trying and failing a dozen times to insert a needle into her beleaguered veins. Being surrounded by other patients fighting their own battles against covid-19 right beside her.

“They put me in this room, and people were dying all around me,” Andrews told me.

Her life wasn’t the only thing that hung in the balance. Andrews, who is 72, was put on a ventilator March 16, the same day that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued an emergency order closing bars and restaurants across Michigan. That order shuttered Club Yesterday’s, a nightclub Andrews opened in 1996 to be a home to Detroit’s distinctive style of couples dancing, known as club ballroom, urban ballroom or Detroit-style ballroom. The dance community she had been building and celebrating for nearly a quarter-century was also fighting for its life.

Read the full story with photos at The Washington Post Magazine.



Copyright © 2020 J. Lester Feder
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