The Cost of Dance

Norwegians tell me that Norway is a wealthy country – wages are high, employment is good, and education and health are free.  As this might be true, I often hear Norwegians talk about how expensive learning to dance is.  However, is this ‘talk’ just mis-leading or is it something to follow?

To see if dance lessons are really expensive or not here in Tromsø, lets compare with the prices of dancing in Australia (a country that Norway overshadows in value of money):

At a community hall International style dance studio called Star Studios, the price for a 1 hour group lesson (with at least 20 other groupers) costs AU$10.  Multiply that by 5 to get a Norwegian Kroner value and it comes to NOK50.  However, you also need to take into consideration the value of earnings in Oz.  The average income in Australia (2007) was AU$45,000.  Times that by 5 and you get NOK225,000.  The average wage in Norway in 2007 was over NOK430,000.  Therefore to get the same value, the Oz amount can be multipied by 2 to get about the same Norsk value.  This will make the cost of a Star Studios group lesson at NOK100 per hour.  Currently in Tromsø a group lesson at Salsademika is NOK100 per hour.

Lets look at another example using the same equation:

Melbourne Salsa charges AU$15 for a one hour group lesson.  Multiply by 5 for the money conversion and then multiply by 2 for a value conversion and you get NOK150 for a one hour group lesson. Currently in Tromsø a group lesson at Salsademika is still only NOK100 per hour.

Not convinced?  Lets look at private lessons:

At Studio Two Dance Centre the cost of a private lesson is AU$65 – NOK 650.  I must admit that these private lessons are very cheap.  So lets consider the cost of one of my old dance studios (which will remain nameless) for a one hour private lesson well over 5 years ago: NOK826.  In fact, even at this price, it was common for my students to have two or three private lessons with me a week.

But value is also about perception.  In Norway, to my dismay, dancing seems like it is undervalued as just a social activity that doesn’t require much commitment.  However, in Oz, learning to dance is a prestigious activity and considered the same as learning a musical instrument, golf lessons, tennis lessons, scuba diving lessons or horse riding lessons.

Lets take it back home to Norway.  How much would it cost to have a personal trainer at Sats working with you for an hour once a week?  Well, they don’t advertise the price.  (I wonder why?)  Tromsø Golf charges NOK3700 for a short season of play and only 6 group training lessons.  Tromsø Tennis Club charges NOK1800 for a one hour private lesson.  A season card at Krokenbakken just to use the lift to go skiing is NOK2800 for four to five months – they don’t show private costs but in Oslo it costs NOK575 for a 55min private ski lesson.  Tromsø Riding Sports Club charges NOK400 per hour for a private lesson.

Dancing in Tromsø also has other benefits similar to these other Tromsø clubs – community, visiting professionals, functions and activities etc.  However, unlike these clubs, the dancing scene has happenings every week, which are actually free, the skills learnt can be used in social situations, and you don’t need a horse, snow, or a racket to dance – in fact, you don’t even need a partner!

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