Happy April Fools! We hope you enjoyed the below post as part of our 2017 April Fools Joke.
The word "ballroom" will never be the same
Pocket pool. Urban dictionary's definitions around this are a bit too crude for repetition here, but suffice it to say that the term describes a man grasping at his "gentlemanly area" while his hands are in his pockets. Put more simply, it's a man playing with his "pool cue and balls". The term isn't necessarily a positive one, as it's most commonly used to point out a man inappropriately touching his junk through his pants… but what if this term could mean something more?
This is exactly what the Winnipeg dance company Belle of the Ball set out to accomplish in 2006 with it's "Pocket Pool Ballroom" competition. Belle of the Ball co-founder Dave Dean explains the inspiration to start this competition "Being a dancer my entire life, I'm always on the lookout for ways to push the art form forward. One day I was watching the original Zoolander movie and was watching the fashion walk-off scene, when Owen Wilson and Ben Stiller try to remove their underwear while still wearing their pants. I remember thinking to myself 'wow it would be so much harder to dance with your hands in your pants' - and that's when it hit me". Inspired by this, Dave decided to create a competition that would require participants to have their hands placed in their pockets during their entire routine, regardless of the style of dance - be it hip hop, salsa, ballroom, or jive. "The idea behind this is that it requires a tremendous amount of core strength and balance, on top of a tremendous amount of skill". To outsiders this may sound like preposterous idea, but since their first competition in 2006, the idea has spurred spin-offs in both Toronto and New York. This unique dance style has also caught the eye of both Broadway and off-Broadway shows where Dave Dean has served as an advisor to several choreographers.
Enter Josh Hamm, a 25 year old, Hamilton born competitive dancer and Testicular Cancer survivor. Josh has been competing in dance ever since he was 8 years old, first starting in hip hop then branching out to anything he could. Josh says "I love any type of dance - whether it's Ellen Degeneres's little jig on her show, or a carefully constructed technical ballet routine - to me it's one of the best ways to express emotion". Josh has been a competitor in the Toronto Pocket Pool Ballroom competitions since he was 18, and was in the middle of competing in his fourth competition when he was diagnosed with Testicular Cancer. "It was a complete shock, and all I could think about was 'will this affect my dance?'" Josh recalls.
Sadly, the answer to this question was yes. After surgery to remove the tumor and three rounds of chemotherapy, Josh was placed into remission and spent the next year recovering physically and emotionally from his bout with the "young man's cancer". When Josh returned to register for the competition this year he was denied entry since "having a single testicle would be an unfair advantage". Flabbergasted and disappointed, Josh recounted "I couldn't believe it, and I started joking with my friends that apparently there was no room for ball room in this competition". Thus, a hashtag is born.
The hashtag #roomforballroom started trending on Twitter in Toronto on Tuesday night and reached it's peak on Thursday. People flocked to the social media website to express their anger and frustration that the dance competition would discriminate against someone for being a cancer survivor. "Its deplorable, and not in line at all with the spirit of the competition" said Dave Dean, the co-founder of the competition.
Today the Toronto Pocket Pool Ballroom competition reversed it's decision and has elected to let Josh participate in the competition which has been set for June 6-9. "I'm just glad I get to compete. I mean, although it's been a tough year, I'm not an entirely different person just because I now have one ball. Although in a weird way, I guess it's somewhat a compliment for them to think I now have superhuman dance powers?". In any case, Josh and his friends are all looking to put this ballsy affair behind them and get the ball rolling on training for the upcoming competition.