AP PHOTOS: Italy ballroom dancers twirl through lockdown

Social distancing isn’t usually part of the ballroom dancing lexicon

ROME -- Social distancing isn't usually part of the ballroom dancing lexicon. But in an industrial zone on the outskirts of Rome, couples of every age twirl and turn across the dance floor, even through a pandemic, just as ballroom dancers have done for decades around the world.

“Yes, we can do it. Here we can keep on dancing,” said Raffaella Serafini, the 45-year-old owner of New Dancing Days and a 35-year veteran of competitive ballroom dancing.

In the huge hall with mirrors on the walls and multi-colored lights, couples wear masks during warm-ups and pauses but are allowed to remove them while performing traditional ballroom or Latin dances. Most keep them on anyway.

“It’s something beautiful for us because we’re older, but we can still put ourselves in play,” said Franco Cauli, a 70-year-old dancer who along with his 74-year-old partner is training for a competition at the end of April.

The Italian Dance Sport Federation has decreed that 34 athletes are allowed to train in a school the size of New Dancing Days, recognizing that continuity in practice is necessary. Currently there are 17 couples, aged nine to 76, who train up to five days a week.

From a viewing spot above the dance floor, Serafini keeps an eye on her twirling students and shouts directions to them. If she sees something wrong, she’ll stop the music, go down to the dance floor and demonstrate the correct way to do a step, pose or twirl.

“The school is my great pride. When I see them on the dance floor, it is like I am there,” she said.

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