(Read Time: 1 minute, 20 seconds)

In the wake of yesterday’s grand jury decision in the Michael Brown case and the subsequent looting and rioting that took place, many felt a sense of disappointment toward the efficacy of the systems we have in place. But something else happened last night – a counterbalance to the disturbing events in Ferguson, Missouri.

Ballroom Basix a small NYC based nonprofit, held its annual benefit last night in the beautiful Edison Ballroom.

Ballroom Basix teaches life skills- respect for peers and gender, tolerance of differences, and manners- to many NYC inner city 6-8thgrade students. Children, who otherwise may not have access to the world of dance lessons, learn the steps, origins and cultural heritage of dances like tango, merengue, rhumba, waltz and swing.

And for a program born in Harlem, teaching East Coast Swing is a point of pride to those in the neighborhood. (http://history.just-the-swing.com/swing-history/what-is-swing).

Last night, 20 or so typical sixth grade students from P.S 182 in the Bronx entered the Edison Ballroom at 6PM in their hooded sweatshirts and jeans. By 8PM they were ladies and gentlemen proudly displaying their proficiency in tango and merengue.

Last night around the same time, Michael Brown’s mother released a statement asking that, “While we understand that many others share our pain, we ask that you channel your frustration in ways that will make a positive change”


Learning respect by asking for the dance, tolerance through dancing with every classmate, and civility through critical listening does make a positive change-everyday. Last night in the Edison Ballroom was a reminder that under the hoodie lies a tremendous sense of civility, self-respect and pride.

See Ballroom Basix at work (You Tube)