How It All Started

1920 - 1999

Throughout the 1920s, several European nations were the pioneers in the gradual emergence of dance as organised sport. They defined the norms and launched the concept of its worldwide governance. In 1929, British dance teachers defined the standards for an “English Style” that was soon adopted everywhere. The German Imperial Association for the Fostering of Social Dance was the initiator of the Fédération Internationale de Danse pour Amateurs (FIDA). Founded by nine European countries on 10 September 1935 in Prague, CZE,  it staged the first world championship truly deserving of such title in Bad Nauheim, GER, one year later. FIDA existed for 20 years – a period marked by World War II as well as feuds between the amateur and professional camps – before it suspended activities in 1956.

Otto Teipel

Germany assumed the lead once more and immediately proposed to regroup in a different organisation. At the Wiesbaden home of German Dance Champion Otto Teipel, eight European nations started the International Council of Amateur Dancers (ICAD) on 12 May 1957. The delegates to the founding assembly elected Teipel as President. With four more nations joining one year later, ICAD registered growth in Europe – but also faced persisting difficulties in the attempt to reconcile with the organisation of the professional dancers.

Otto Teipel eventually stepped down – worn out by the quarrelling – and was succeeded by Heinrich Brönner and Rolf Fincke, who both held office for a short time. In June 1965, a young and ambitious Detlef Hegemann was elected ICAD President. He was to bring great vision and relentless drive to the organisation for many years to come. Just four months after his election, Hegemann signed a landmark agreement with the International Council of Ballroom Dancing (ICBD), led by Alex Moore at the time.

The “Bremen Agreement” of 3 October 1965 established that ICAD was henceforth to grant and control international championships for amateurs – and that ICBD was to do the same for professionals. The Joint Committee set up through the agreement drafted the terms for co-operation between the two bodies, which then allowed ICAD Adjudicators to officiate at international competitions, although only in a 3:4 minority.


ICAD membership grew steadily over the next 25 years. More and more national amateur bodies joined the organisation that itself set out to become part of the global sports movement. In 1990, ICAD decided to change its name to International DanceSport Federation. Embracing its interpretation of dance as sport in the new name helped to secure wider acceptance almost immediately. Good strategy and persuasive lobbying were the other pillars in a campaign to correct erroneous perceptions in the minds of many. In 1995, IDSF was accepted as a member of the General Association of International Sports Federations, the umbrella organisation for all world sports governing bodies. The International Olympic Committee recognised DanceSport. IDSF became a member of the Association of IOC Recognised International Sports Federations and of the International World Games Association. The determination of President Hegemann and the lobbying efforts by Presidium members had brought about significant change.

When Detlef Hegemann chose not to stand for re-election, he left a fundamentally reformed and thriving International Federation to his successor, the Swiss Rudolf Baumann. Membership had arrived at 65 national member bodies, the financial situation was excellent and, above all, the young federation had established an impeccable track record in fulfilling its statutory mission. Hegemann was elected as IDSF Honorary Life President in recognition of his visionary leadership over 33 years. Baumann took the baton and ran with it … into a new Millennium!