Book Review: Becoming Ginger Rogers by Patrice Tanaka

2016-07-17-10.44.52.jpg.jpegI finally finished reading Patrice Tanaka’s Becoming Ginger Rogers. If you recall, reading her description of her first competition inspired me to come up with this crazy idea of attempting to enter not one, but two(!) competitions before the end of 2016. I’ve since gone through a mental smackdown courtesy of the demons that live in my head, but that post will have to wait. First, I want to share how much I enjoyed reading this book!

We first meet Patrice at her job. She is co-running a public relations firm in New York City, and the firm is working on a PR campaign for a Dyson vacuum about a year after 9/11. She hasn’t stepped foot in a ballroom studio yet, but the need is there. She works endlessly to take care of her firm and the people who work there, and to care for her sick husband, while also making time for charity work. She’s all give and no receive, and it’s wearing her down.

Her first dance lesson comes as a result of meeting with an executive coach. It is a homework assignment of sorts, after the coach asks her what brings her joy and, without really thinking about it, Patrice blurts out “dancing!”

The book is a mix of stories from Patrice’s work, ballroom and home worlds. And, as expected, the longer she dances ballroom, the greater impact it has on the rest of her life. The book is a little heavy on the work stories, as that part of her life is most impacted by dance. The stories are also nice marketing for her firm, as you read about the success they bring to their prestigious clients and how much effort and care they put into their campaigns. I’ll admit I started to wonder what a PR firm would do for an author like me!

I love her description of her first competition. I laughed at the moments that only seem ridiculous the first time you experience them, like the 20 layers of makeup you wear to compete as a woman. I also appreciate that, throughout the book, she takes the time to explain some of the basic concepts of the various dances . Anyone reading the book who hasn’t tried ballroom will still be able to follow along and understand what she’s writing about.

It was fun to read another “life transformed by ballroom” story. Even her appearance changed drastically, as a “freer” version of herself emerged. As she writes about her ballroom experiences, she drops the names of coaches and judges that ballroom people will recognize. For the non-ballroom readers, don’t worry, you don’t need to know who the people are to appreciate their messages. My own ballroom experiences differ a lot in some respects, simply because I live on the other side of the country and I don’t have the same financial means.

But there are universal truths – ballroom is life-changing, it will impact other areas of your life in ways you didn’t imagine, and, as the book’s subtitle indicates, you will become happier, better and smarter.

Has anyone else read this book?  Let me know what you thought in the comments!


Next on my ballroom reading list is Marian Condon’s Thinner, Fitter, Happier: Dancing Will Change Your Life! No need to wonder what her position on ballroom dancing is!

Happy dancing everyone!

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