An Interview with Dr. Juliet McMains, author of the book Glamour Addiction: Inside the American Ballroom Dance Industry

Documentary News

Published on
June 23, 2021

On June 23, 2021, The Director (Brian Thomas) and Producer (Brian Rubiano ) of FollowLeadLOVE traveled to Seattle, Washington to interview Dr. Juliet McMains, a Professor at the University of Washington’s Dance Department.  Dr. McMains received her Doctorate Degree in Dance History and Theory from the University of California at Riverside and a B.A. in Women's Studies from Harvard University. She is also the author of the books, Glamour Addiction: Inside the American Ballroom Dance Industry that won the 2008 Congress on Research in Dance (CORD) Outstanding Publication Award and Spinning Mambo into Salsa: Caribbean Dance in Global Commerce that chronicles the histories of salsa and mambo dancing in New York, South Florida, and Los Angeles.

Behind the Scene photo, FollowLeadLOVE Director (Brian Thomas) filming b-roll shots for FollowLeadLOVE at the University of Washington in Seattle

During the Research and Development phase of this film project, the producer was able to get ahold of Dr. McMains’ book Glamour Addiction and was immediately fascinated by its contents and how it transcends beyond dance. In her book, she annotated that “Dance reflects trends in society and society is shaped by its dance.” Such a powerful statement that truly reflects the core message of FollowLeadLOVE.  After reading the book, he (producer) made the decision to contact Dr. McMains to ask her if she would be interested in being interviewed for the film .  We are fortunate and honored that she agreed to be part of this project and be our Academic Expert on Social and Ballroom Dance.

Cover of Dr. Juliet McMains book Glamour Addiction: Inside the American Ballroom Dance Industry

Unfortunately, COVID-19 forced us to reschedule our interview a couple of times, but on the 24th of June 2021 with lesser restrictions, we finally were able to conduct this much-anticipated interview. The Director and Producer met Dr.McMains in her office at the University at around 12NN and after the introduction and setting up, we then proceed in filming her interview.  These are just some of the topics of conversation during our interview: History of Ballroom Dancing which includes Racism, Sexism & Classism behind it , Reason for the title “Glamour Addiction,” Homophobia and Effeminophobia in the world of Ballroom Dance and Dance in general,  “Brownface,” & Follower/Leader roles in Partner dancing.

After almost 3 hours of interview, which is by far the longest and one of the most informative interviews conducted to a single individual for this documentary, we left her office not only inspired but also with so much great information and education on Ballroom and Social dance. Dr. McMains provided us with in-depth background on the history, racial and other socio-cultural implications of this dance genre. She gave us an insight that only a dance educator with extensive academic knowledge and experience can talk about with such integrity, objectivity.

The contents of Dr. McMains’ interview are vital to elevate the objective and academic narrative of FollowLeadLOVE. It will further enhance one of this film’s missions which is to serve as one of the catalysts to help start a civilized conversation not only to the Dance and Arts Community but also to a much wider audience such as the LGBTQI+, Communities of Color & the Female demographics to name a few.


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