Hallie Kuperman first fell in love with dance when she was 10 years old. She saw Grease on Broadway and, “I knew, I was going to be a swing dancer,” she remembers. However, it wasn’t until she moved to Seattle in the 1990’s that Hallie would fulfill that dream. Century Ballroom was born out of Hallie’s desire to teach dance to the LGBTQ community, while maintaining a space that wasn’t exclusively gay, but was truly welcoming to everyone. She dreamed of a space that was safe, beautiful, community oriented, and that mixed dining and dancing. Century Ballroom now offers classes in swing, salsa, lindy hop, tango, tap and various other styles. Adjacent to the Ballroom is The Tin Table, a cozy yet urban bar and restaurant.
After more than 20 years, Century Ballroom remains a pillar of the Capitol Hill neighborhood. Hallie has fostered an incredibly diverse and vibrant community, and the innate magic of social dancing likely has a lot to do with it.
“Dancing changes peoples’ lives,” Hallie says with complete sincerity. “You can’t wander, you’re totally present, and you’re connected to another human being. It’s so freeing.” The Seattle community clearly reciprocates Hallie’s passion for and commitment to social dance, which has enabled Century Ballroom to ride the often tumultuous waves of change and development in Capitol Hill.
Hallie contends that part of the reason the Ballroom has survived is that it’s unique. “I’d like to see more of that in this neighborhood, people doing things that are unique and needed, that are outside the box and following a passion,” she says.
The Century Ballroom has become a true community space on many levels. Beyond social dance, Hallie holds memorials, community workshops, kids camps, blooddrives and fundraisers in the space. It’s a place that requires presence, courage and vulnerability. “It’s so scary to put yourself out there like that. I see people come in and they don’t know their right from their left. I’m always shocked at people taking that kind of risk,” Hallie says. “And they don’t think they’ll be dancing at the end, but they are, and it’s so joyful.”
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