Back to modern jive - dancing shoes

The freedom of dance – digging out my modern jive dancing shoes

I mentioned a few weeks ago that friends had dragged me along to their zumba classes.  Much as I loved the class, when I spotted last week that there was a new modern jive class starting up only 15 minutes drive away, I knew I had to give it a go…even though the day clashed with zumba. Sods law, but dancing was always going to win out.

Before having N (right up to 8 months pregnant) I’d done 3 years of Ceroc and before that, a couple of years of salsa.  In the UK, Ceroc is the main company doing modern jive classes with various independents popping up as well.  There’s not much around me, most of the classes would be a 40+ minute  drive, so I was really pleased to see this new class starting up.

It’s actually in a town that used to have a Ceroc class that I was involved with.  When I arrived there were so many faces of people who’d started their dance journey at that venue.  It was good to be back.

I’ve done a lot of dancing in my 30 odd years.  12 years of ballet, a few years of modern dance, then salsa and ceroc as an adult, plus a bit of west coast swing.   My friends always try and get me on the dance floor at weddings and parties but I’m always self conscious about that.  Having done structured dancing, and then being asked to dance (alone) is terrible.

With modern jive being a partner and social dance, they teach core moves that the man (or leader) can then pick and choose from during freestyle.  There’s also a friendly atmosphere where it’s frowned upon to turn down the offer of a dance.  The moves are built up gradually in lessons, breaking them down into counts to make them easy to learn, so in just one lesson a total beginner can get through a freestyle dance.  It doesn’t take long to get to a reasonable level even if you’ve never danced before.  I’ve done some ballroom before, but it’s not the same – it’s formal, and if you’re a girl with no set partner to dance with, you’ll end up dancing alone because most people go in couples and there’s no switching round.

When I was younger, I was shy and was always a self conscious dancer. As you get older, you don’t really care what you look like and it’s more about the connection with your partner, enjoying the music, the challenge and just making the dance look good.  For me, I can just let myself go.  I know I can dance, I can follow most leaders without too much trouble, and I just love dancing.  A bit of a body roll or shimmy, hair flick or head roll, and I can channel Strictly Come Dancing with the best of them.

Back to modern jive - dancing shoes

So yesterday’s free opening night was a great chance to get back to dancing after 5 years.  I’ve always found Jive+ to be an older crowd to Ceroc.  The good thing about modern jive is that anyone can do it. Most people get obsessed and many have been dancing for years so you’ll always get a mix of dances.  There were a lot of faces there I recognised from the  freestyles I’d been to over the years.  There was also the bonus of some of my favourite male dancers from the old Oxford classes I used to do.

I led in the beginners class because there were more women than men.  In the past I was a taxi dancer for a couple of years (their job is to make sure beginners have someone to dance with, make them feel welcome, ask people to dance, and teach the beginners review class), so had been used to leading regularly.  I was pleased to make it through not only the class, but also remember some of the old moves and lead through a whole freestyle song.  Happy days.  Dancing’s a bit like riding a bike, you never lose it (although my spins need a bit of work).  I even had one woman complement me on my leading.

We learnt some really nice moves in the intermediate level class and then it was general freestyle where it’s just a free for all.

The one thing that was noticeable was my lack of condition and fitness.  I always used to get hot dancing even at my lightest, but after only one dance I needed a breather and some water.  It’s definitely something I need to work on.  Shame so few venues have air conditioning.

Being out of the dance world for nearly 5 years did mean I didn’t recognise a lot of the music.  So I was having to concentrate on following the moves and my partner’s signals, but also anticipating what the music was doing to add some styling.

I had some great dances with my favourite dancers, a good chat with old dancing friends and just generally soaked up the atmosphere before heading off home, hot and tired but happy.

Driving home I decided that dancing is a bit like driving.  After my first driving lesson I went home absolutely full of it, feeling that it gave me the feeling of being free.  Dancing is just like that.  If it’s good, it takes you to another place, and when you step outside the bubble, you’re on a high afterwards.

And I pity everyone who was at work the next day who had to listen to how brilliant it was!

Have you ever danced?  What have you returned to after having children?


You can now read about modern jive and my return journey to it, at my dance blog What about Dance.


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  1. I love this! It must have been great to get back to dancing.
    I started dancing at the grand age of 36! I’m the opposite to you – a good dancer in a club or at a wedding with no inhibitions whatsoever, but I find it hard to learn moves and routines. My classes had been getting harder and harder and I’d struggled to keep up, but I recently went back to basics to an intermediate street class, where I can keep up – and in fact I can dance very well. That is so much better for me and I’m loving dance again!

    1. Ooh street dance is cool but I find it really difficult to let go. I’m rubbish at improvisation, so the moves are fine but making them up as I go along, nightmare. I did a class once – it was hysterical, a really funky teacher, and a whole lot of white women ranging from 20-50 really looking terribly awkward when she made us stand in a circle and then do our thing individually in the middle. Not quite what everyone really wanted.

      Glad to hear it’s working for you

  2. My daughter has just started ballet and tap at the old dance school I attended. I’m desperate to get back to tap as I haven’t done it since I was 22 almost five years ago now! Dancing is so much fun and a great way to keep fit! X

    1. I’d love to try tap. I can thrash through a couple of steps that I learnt from copying a group dance in a show when I was a child, but that’s it. It clashed with Brownies so I didn’t do it! But it’s just the time when you’re an adult and parent!

      1. You must give it a go! I find Tap weirdly satisfying! I agree about trying to find the time. I find it really hard to join any form of weekly class as the hubby works shifts so there is no guarantee there will be anyone for the kiddies! Xxx

  3. I never went to a dance class and I never would. Lol I just simply can’t dance. Not a thing I am good at. Since having my 2 children I haven’t taken up anything other than blogging.

  4. That sounds like so much fun – I have two left feet and a bad back so I fear my dancing days are over, but I’m really glad you’re enjoying it. It is great to get back into something that makes you feel you again after having kids, it can be so easy to fall into the “I’m a mummy” trap – we have to remember to nourish the person we were before having kids because we are still that person, just with a couple of minis in tow!

  5. Ahh this sounds so much fun!! Well done you for getting back on the horse again! It’ll be great how much your fitness and ability improves over time. I went to a jive class a few years ago with a friend but it didn’t have a nice feel about it, it seemed a bit like a place people were going to meet the opposite sex which I wasn’t interested in! I’d love to find a different class with a better vibe! x

  6. This sounds very proacative in getting a bit of you back.I can’t dance because of scoliosis, I don’t have any rhythm any way.We do like watching Strictly every week though, that’s as close to dancing I get.My life has changed a lot since having kids, I don’t do anything that I used to do before having them.Good luck in getting your groove back.

  7. That’s so fantastic that you are returning to dance! I don’t know how you can dance in heels, that’s something I never mastered. I used to take ballet & modern dance but never had to wear heels. I haven’t returned to it since having kids but I bet it would be so fun!! x

  8. Absolutely love dancing, it’s my favourite way to lift my mood. I did Jazz Ballet for a long time when I was a student and after and I’ve done Latin American dancing. I’ve never tried Jive, that’s definitely going on my list! I’ve also been doing Zumba for years although I’ve had to stop for a while because of health. That class sounds like so much fun 🙂

  9. Aww I can totally relate to this! I always feel great during my weekly zumba and after it, but some of my more sporty friends don’t take it seriously so they understand why I’m so buzzed about it x

  10. I used to Ceroc, but years back. I went through phases of going for years, but I was never that great. I loved it though. Great fun and brilliant exercise.

  11. Two small children and a husband working shifts means I rarely get to dance any more 🙁
    I used to dance 3-4 nights a week before we met and now if I get an afternoon tea dance once in a blue moon I’m doing well. I miss it so, so much especially when a great modern jive or wcs track is played in the radio and I’m foot tapping away and bopping about in the drivers seat taking my kids to nursery, the park or such.
    This has turned into a bit of a pity party (sorry!) but it’s given me a bit of kick up the derrière to try harder to get out dancing. Time out doing something I love is worth it!! xx

    1. Exactly the same here (well, mine doesn’t work shifts, but is unreliable on what time he’s working to), it used to be 3-4 times a week, and was pretty much my social life too. I do dance round the kitchen to my old dance tracks – N looks at me like a nutter.

      Let me know if you manage to get out dancing again!

  12. This sounds like crazy fun! I’ve dipped into a few dance things over the years but never got going with anything formal. A guy friend I had dated for a while asked me to go so a salsa class with him but it soon got a bit awkward. I also tried an adult ballet class but after being told pain is beauty quickly decided it wasn’t for me. I do really enjoy Zumba thought and look forward to getting back to it. I didn’t find it that tricky fitness wise but I was in much better shape than I am now!

    1. I loved ballet as a child, but the thought of wearing tight clothes is a nightmare. Although I would quite like to try tap because I’d never done that as a child. You’ll likely be fine going back to zumba. I’m ok with that one (there’s one track they ‘run’ to which is a killer), most of the class I don’t struggle with and I’m totally unfit and overweight. I think if you’ve done a lot in the past, your body does remember a lot of it and you fit right back into it.

  13. Oh how lovely to have gone back to dancing and so glad you enjoyed it. I miss that high that I used to get after a dance session and I know what you mean about needing a breather after only one dance – I’m the same these days. Hubby and I used to do a lot of modern jive too (as well as ballroom which was how we met) – these days we still occasionally get up and do some at parties but it’s been five years since I last went dancing properly and there is a big part of me that misses it. Is the photo your collection of dancing shoes? Am properly jealous if it is – they are all so gorgeous! 🙂

    1. Old photo of my shoes. I tend to wear flatter west coast swing shoes now. Since N I rarely wear heels so dancing in 3 inch heels would be a bit painful i think.

      Nice to know someone else who’s a modern jiver. Must have been nice to dance together. My OH wouldn’t even try it which is a shame so I never have someone to dance with at weddings or parties.

      Hopefully you might get back to it at some point too.

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