DSI London was founded by Geoffrey Hearn and Peggy Spencer MBE in 1982 as Hearn & Spencer Ltd. The pair had taken over the much-loved “Alex Moore Letter Service”, which had been running since 1933.
At the time, the company used the “green room” studio in the Spencer Dance Centre as an office by day, but each evening everything had to be packed away in readiness for the evening dance lessons.
Hearn and Spencer sent out a monthly letter to dance teachers all over the world, featuring news and dance variations. Geoffrey used his technical knowledge as a qualified teacher and examiner, and he developed this service into a 24-page magazine, sharing new variations in both Modern Standard and Latin American dances for social dancers right through to advanced choreography for the more able.
In 2004 this publication received another “facelift” and was renamed “The Choreographer". After more than 25 years of service to dance teachers the world over, the last publication was printed in December 2008.
Geoffrey’s son, Malcolm, joined the company in 1982 and expanded its Mail Order Sales Service from a handful of books and LP records to today’s comprehensive list of media products. Later, in 1987, the company ventured into video production, with its first title called “Ballroom Lines”.
We have expanded the filming to another level and now offer DSI TV– our very own web channel, which live streams all the action from the world’s top Ballroom and Latin championships to the comfort of living rooms all over the globe, as well as offering a wealth of masterclasses, interviews and archival footage of past competitions.
Keith Hoyle joined the company in 1994 and his first job was to take the first steps in our journey into dance shoes. In 1996, we purchased the liquidated stock of DanceTogs – a well-known shoe and accessories business, and with this purchase came the exhibition rights to sell these products at the prestigious British Open Championships in Blackpool. Later, in 1997, the company also purchased a jewellery business called Golden Girl and again their exhibition rights at the Blackpool Dance Festival too.
Geoffrey and Peggy sold their shares to Malcolm and Keith, who became business partners in 1996. Geoffrey worked with the company as a consultant, and produced DVDs for us on a freelance basis. He also wrote three best-selling books on Advanced Techniques.
The millennium saw a crucial turning point in DSI’s history: in 2000, we decided to start our dress-making department. We employed a designer and four machinists – and we are pleased to say that of the original four machinists, three are still with us, but the team now numbers 12. Now, more than 25 staff in total make up the dress and tailoring departments.
It was at this time that we also decided to change our business name from Hearn & Spencer Ltd to DanceSport International Ltd as this more accurately reflected the nature of the business at the time. Later, of course, this was abbreviated to DSI.
In 2001, Gerald Schwanzer joined the company as Sales Director. His considerable knowledge and wealth of experience on the fashion side of our industry inspired the company to produce a range called “Visions”. This included exciting new fabrics, rhinestones, laces, and dancewear; thus we were in a position to present the complete package for all aspects of dance.
One of the most successful ventures to date was the introduction of our Juvenile and Junior range for boys and girls, and with this came a request to dress the British Teams for the Junior Blackpool Dance Festival. We’re still proud to dress the Juvenile team to this day.
Development is an on-going part of our business, with new shoes being offered for both the competitive and social dancer; we are constantly bringing out new dress designs and are always on the look-out for new products to add to our catalogues. We also hope to develop and expand our dealer network all over the world to be able to offer dancers the ability to purchase from a local source.
In 2003, DSI was appointed as the official agent for Preciosa rhinestones in the dance market. A couple of years later, in 2005, Keith decided to retire from the company and Gerald purchased his shares to become Malcolm’s new business partner.
The past decade or so has seen phenomenal growth in the business. Working closely with costume designer Vicky Gill, DSI London has been involved with the creation of the costumes for Strictly Come Dancing since 2007 and the company’s wealth of experience has led to commissioned work for the stage and screen all over the globe.
From some of the most fabulous stage shows in the West End – from 42nd Street to Dreamgirls – to many of the Dancing with the Stars series worldwide, as well as the Strictly Come Dancing Live! tour and several of the Strictly professional dancers’ shows, DSI London’s glittering creations have been seen by millions of viewers. What’s more, as the “London” part of our name would suggest, every single dancewear item is still handmade in London.
Today, we are proud to be a “one-stop dance shop” – the only ballroom-focused company to provide branded products for every aspect of dance: we can prepare you for the dance floor from the shoes on your feet to the rhinestones in your hair and everything in between.
We are one of the few companies able to offer Ballroom and Latin dancers throughout the world – a total service by mail order. We are also pleased to welcome many visitors to our showroom in Croydon, where customers may browse at their leisure, listen to CDs, view DVDs and select shoes and practice wear from the stocks always available. Please see “Visit our Showroom” for opening times.
We hope you find this site of interest and use. If you have any comments good or bad we would love to hear from you, or if you are in our area, please come and visit us. When you see us out and about at any of the trade shows, congresses, competitions that we attend then please do come and say hello – it’s always nice to put a face to a name.
We look forward to being of service to you.