I mentioned back in October that I’d started dancing again. I love to dance.
As a child, I did ballet from the age of 4 to 16 when I had to give up due to having school on Saturdays, a few years of modern dance (because tap clashed with brownies – although I think I’d have been a better tap dancer than modern). Apart from school dances, a few ballroom lessons before our annual ball, and clubbing at uni, I didn’t dance again until just after getting married. I found some salsa classes at our local arts centre and I was hooked.
Unfortunately my OH doesn’t dance and won’t try it. But with salsa I didn’t need a partner, everyone rotated round the class making it more sociable and better for finding people to dance with when we went to salsa nights. I loved the technical aspect of salsa – we had teachers who were sticklers for technique whether it be footwork, timing, body position or isolations and tension. So it gave me a brilliant grounding in having a go at Ceroc.
Ceroc’s a franchise teaching and providing dancing in modern jive in the UK but also internationally. The ethos is all about social dancing and getting anyone up and dancing, and they’re really proficient at doing so. While I loved salsa, the freestyle aspect of salsa was scary – there were different types of salsa beats (on1 and on2, plus cuban style), and I found it quite cliquey at freestyles even after 2 1/2 years of experience.
With ceroc, because of my dance background I picked it up really easily, could transfer all my existing partner dancing skills and knowledge and could really let myself go a lot more than I’d ever done previously with my dancing. Plus I got to dance to all my favourite contemporary music, not being stuck with latin beats all the time. Everyone was really friendly and I danced 3-4 nights a week being involved as a taxi dancer and demo at 2 of the venues I danced at.
Dancing right up to 8 months pregnant (well, 1 or 2 dances at that stage, the rest was mostly chatting!), it was a shock to give it up after N was born. It had been my plan to at least go back to freestyle events but it just didn’t happen. Lots of friends then took up other activities or no longer danced so there wasn’t the peer pressure for us all to go back again.
After 5 years, an independent modern jive company opened a new venue near me. In the past I’ve been less keen on the previous venues they ran. The dancers were mostly a lot older in demographic, and I just didn’t feel the slickness of Ceroc was there to make new people feel so integrated despite the similar set up. But I couldn’t miss out the chance to get back dancing.
Thankfully the once a week slot is working out well with the OH knowing that’s my night to go out, and N’s used to me rushing bedtime on that day before heading out.
It’s been a bit hit and miss with the standard of dancing and numbers of people to dance with, plus the demographic is still older (even though I’m rapidly approaching 40). We need to get some younger blood in who’ll get hooked with dancing like I did and stick with it for years.
The first week was great. With a free first night of course everyone would turn up, including lots of my old friends I used to dance with. Fast forward to the first week back after Christmas and I was worried that the numbers wouldn’t be sufficient to keep it going. But this week there was not only a good number turning up, but every single dance I had during the freestyle session after the classes was a lovely dance.
Usually we have a female teacher, but last time the teacher was a guy who was always out on the floor dancing. It really made a difference to everyone sticking around to dance, and my dance with him was brilliant. He even complimented me on my dancing twice which was lovely after not really being back to dancing long.
A week later and I had a change of venue and change back to ceroc. The Tuesday nights are a different format with only 1 intermediate class followed by longer freestyle. It was perfect for me, I enjoyed the class which was more challenging, and the music in the freestyle was more my thing – slower, more rhythmic and more expressive dancing than all being upbeat tracks.
There was a good quality of male dancer there, and every dance I had was enjoyable with several being up there with some of the best dances I’ve had. It’s great to be able to switch round venues – a chance for me to catch up with a couple of people I’ve not seen in 5 years, and new dance partners to dance with. I was definitely on a high driving home afterwards.
I’ve not yet made it back to full freestyle events yet. These are evening dates where there’s sometimes a fun ice breaker class, and then djs playing music til late. These are the best because as a woman, you get to simply follow the moves the man is leading, and get to dance with people you don’t often see.
I keep saying I’m going to freestyle, know that the OH would be in to keep an eye on N, but when it comes to it I don’t go. It’s so much easier to make that first leap back to them when you’ve got a friend with you. And even though I know the dancing isn’t an issue, there’s still the walking in and getting started. But end of the month there’s a big event and I’m aiming to be there if I can get back up childcare.
The last couple of weeks I definitely felt the buzz and adrenaline rush of having perfect dances, maybe not in ‘the zone’ that I’ve experienced at dance weekenders in the past, but real ‘grin on your face’ when the music ends. And that for me is so much what dancing is about.
If you’ve never been social partner dancing before, I definitely recommend it, whether you go as a couple or on your own. Search for ceroc or modern jive and you’ll find plenty of venues up and down the country, and don’t worry about starting out knowing nothing. Most people haven’t danced before, but the set up is such that there’s always taxi dancers around to help out beginners…and by the end of the night you’ll be able to dance through a whole track.
Have you ever danced before? What type of dance and have you ever tried social dancing?