Moon couple discover new togetherness through ballroom dancing
By Joanne Barron
Published: Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
After Sewickley Academy graduate Luke Brocks finished college, his mother, Gretchen, decided to count all the baseball games she attended over the years to watch her son play.
She came up with 1,000 — 50 games a year for 20 years. And that didn't count her now 25-year-old son's basketball games and events she and her husband, Michael, attended for their daughters, Mary Beth, 34, and Emily, 30.
Gretchen Brocks, of Moon, missed going to games at first, then realized, “I've always wanted to dance.”
She and Michael now are dance enthusiasts. Gretchen Brocks, who formerly worked in the Quaker Valley School District's administrative department, took up ballroom dancing about four years ago and wanted to involve her husband, a certified public accountant and president of HamiltonTax in Sewickley.
“I love to watch dance, and my mother danced socially,” she said. “It's in my blood. I knew I had that bug, and it was a perfect time in my life.”
She now is the vice president of the USA Dance Pittsburgh chapter, as well as a volunteer at Holy Family Institute in Emsworth. Michael Brocks recently was elected treasurer for the national USA Dance Board of Directors.
“Gretchen never asks for anything, and it was time she had something for herself,” said Michael, who will demonstrate ballroom dance techniques at Absolute Ballroom, 6617 Hamilton Ave., Point Breeze, from 3 to 5 p.m. on Saturday.
The couple, who formerly lived in Sewickley, began with lessons at Robin Hill Park in Moon. They continued to take lessons and go dancing almost every weekend at studios around the Pittsburgh area, including at the Coraopolis VFW, 412 Mulberry St.
They immediately got involved with USA Dance Inc., the national governing body for DanceSport in the United States — with 174 chapters throughout the country with nearly 23,000 members, 250 who are with the Pittsburgh chapter.
Gretchen has helped to organize several events through USA Dance Pittsburgh, including dances, raising money for charitable causes and promoting educational dance opportunities.
The Brockses agreed that ballroom dancing has been a life-changing experience.
It has brought them closer, and they “learned to work together on a different level toward a common goal,” Gretchen Brocks said.
“Unlike a lot of sporting activities, ballroom dancing is something that couples can do forever,” Michael said.
“And, age doesn't matter. At one dance, I could be dancing with a 26-year-old and then with an 83-year-old. It's great in that regard.”
The Brockses, who choose to stick to social dancing instead of competing, said ballroom dancing helps participants mentally and physically. Michael has lost 35 pounds since he started, and he and Gretchen said it takes a lot of thinking to learn the steps while listening to the music and taking a partner into account.
“It's not easy. Even athletes who have tried it have said it's really hard. But I had no dancing ability when I started, so it is something you can learn. If there is a group of men attracted to ballroom, I would say engineers and mathematicians. It helps to understand angles and patterns.”
Participating socially is not expensive, they said, and most of the dances do not require formal dress. Although one lesson can cost from $50 to $75, the Brocks said beginners can come to the dances about an hour early and get a free lesson before the events start. Cost to attend is between $10 and $15.
Joanne Barron is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-324-1406 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- In Focus: It can be fun to delve into why we are who we are
- Sewickley teen’s art helps her deal with challenges of epilepsy
- Sewickley Hills woman marks end of passion play
- Edgeworth woman takes passion for orchids to annual show
- Edgeworth family helps to kick off events surrounding Festival of Hope
- ‘Soup for you!’ as beloved TV grump visits Sewickley