It’s not a dance, but it can be a powerful way of speaking and communicating for the deaf and hard-of-hearing or other people with mobility challenges,” said Robert Naudet, co-owner of the Leopoldville Boutique (1120 Leopoldville Road, Leopoldville, $15, (856) 944-1700, theleopoldvilleboutique.com ), a store that includes waltz accessories, waltzes, a waltz music system and much more.
“Deaf people do not get a lot of things right in everyday life,” Naudet said. “I’m not proud of the fact that my store features my own waltz routine, but I’m not going to hide it. Because every day hearing people have problems. They have issues with being able to communicate, and it’s about giving them the opportunity to have the freedom of doing what they need to do to communicate, which is play a musical instrument or play a language.”
Naudet said his customers usually fall into three groups. About 25% are hard-of-hearing or have a speech or developmental language disorder; 40% are deaf with hearing aids; and 15% are hard-of-hearing.
The 10,000-square-foot shop has a custom-made waltz bar across the back, which Naudet calls “a dance floor for the deaf or hard-of-hearing because hearing aids don’t give you movement.” When two waltz dancers are dancing, one moves backwards and the other forwards. A waltz system connects the dancers to two amps that crank the volume, which Naudet said makes it a breeze to hear and maintain communication with the other dancers.
Naudet said the sales in his store, which is in operation during the summer of 2015, increase with the number of waltzes a customer gets. And while he doesn’t expect the waltz to be a popular dance, he does believe it is a powerful way for hearing people to celebrate life and have fun as well as create a “safe haven” that provides them with a sense of community in a loud, crowded world.
“It’s about being able to talk to a hearing person, have a good time, laugh and talk back,” he said. “It’s really more about people being able to communicate with people other than just themselves that you’re with. It’s
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