Ceroc, Dancing, Writer's Blog

Ceroc Christmas Party at the Carnegie Room, Thetford

Driving through sheets of windswept rain, attempting to keep the car from veering over the white lines, our spirits couldn’t be dampened.

We were headed for the annual Ceroc Christmas party with our Ceroc Thetford family, among others. Of all the parties, this was one we really didn’t want to miss.

Clive, ever the gentleman, dropped me at the door, allowing me to avoid as much of the torrential downpour as possible, and went off to park the car nearby.

We had arrived early, as arranged, to help Anna and Steve with the buffet preparations and lighting, along with Matty, so there was plenty of time for a chat before the guests started to arrive.

20181215_194144

And arrive they did. Prepaid party-goers were guaranteed, but we were surprised at how keen so many ‘pay-on-the-door’ dancers were, considering the dreadful weather conditions. Nothing was going to stop them last night and the dance floor was soon filled with festively happy faces.

20181216_075450

Sylvia and Rob arrived and were quick to set up their table which groaned under the weight of raffle prizes, continuing their fundraising to help the Ugandan orphans.

20181215_200521

With the dance floor warming up nicely, it was soon time for the customary ice-breaker class with Steve. Three packed rows of dancers soon became four and the fun lesson began. Steve’s three moves, intermediate and with a spattering of footwork, were enough to warm up the dancers and, for those who needed it, enable them to get to know one another.

By the time the twenty minute class was finished, the buffet was open and the party could begin.  Steve, as well as being the teacher, was the DJ for the evening and invited music requests while promising to throw in as many dance-worthy Christmas tunes as he could. He did a fabulous job and the dance floor was busy right up until the last tune was played at midnight.

20181215_194211

The buffet was kept well-stocked, with roasted vegetable crisps, sausage rolls, cheese straws, satsumas, mince pies and chocolate fingers being among the firm favourites.

Party outfits for the evening ranged from Christmas jumpers and tinsel wrapped dresses to sparkly party attire and be-sequined shirts often only reserved for the Strictly dance floor.

Following a gift of a mistletoe sprig from Sylvia, Anna had some fun on the door as dancers entered. As word spread, some of those who had missed the mistletoe fun, headed back to the door for a giggle.

20181216_075630

Dennis, Ceroc Fusion’s photographer, worked his camera tirelessly around the floor, capturing the mood of the evening. As you can imagine, photographing dancers mid-move while keeping both in shot and avoiding fuzzy movement pictures and tonsil-shots of the incessant sing-along-ers is not an easy task.

The second of the Ceroc Fusion Christmas parties was a resounding success. With one more party taking place at North Walsham next week, following the usual Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday regular class nights, there is still more Ceroc Fusion Christmas fun to be had this season.

20181215_192535

 

 

Ceroc, Dancing, Poem, Writer's Blog

Back at The Dance Ranch

Decision is made, dressed and ready to go,

One more sweep of make-up, its Christmas you know,

Head to the city, our nerves are on high,

Wild Stallion awaits, so much time has passed by.

***

Car parked, bags ready, we head to the door,

Arms opened widely from friends by the door,

Ambient dance floor, the feel festively so,

Garlands abound, Christmas lights are aglow.

***

Tunes spilling forth from our Rob on the decks,

Wide smiling greets us from Anna, at the desk,

Time for a drink, the choices discussed,

Refreshments aplenty, rehydration a must.

***

Eight strikes the clock sitting high on the wall,

The floor starts to fill, we are having a ball,

One dance, another, then grabbed for one more,

In need of a drink, I dart from the floor.

***

No rest I’m allowed because here comes another,

Gentleman dancer, hand proffered, its no bother,

Gulp down a few mouthfuls, my throat to hydrate,

Head back to the dance floor, we’ve hips to gyrate.

***

Rob spins a tune and one thing comes to mind,

Hurry on down to dance to a Nu Line,

Giggles, true laughter, down the line we can hear,

Nicky and Clive ham up wiggles, oh dear!

***

Not one dull moment, this freestyle can bring,

Dancing with friends, and chatting in the wings,

Great to see friends we’ve not seen for an age,

Time for a shake up, time for a new page.

***

Nibbles depleted, the music is over

Its time to now to go, at the door we all hover,

Christmas greetings are many for those we won’t see,

The season is busy, many places to be.

***

Plans made for dates in the future, not far,

More dancing freestyles to come, near and far,

Next week is for jumpers seasonally adorned,

To wear at all venues, to the theme we have warmed.

***

Greetings over shoulders as we go into the night,

Hugs and more kisses as we bid friends, goodnight,

This dance night’s been awesome, my feet are quite sore,

In just a few days and we’ll be dancing some more!

***

Center Parcs, Daily Life, Dancing, Writer's Blog

Help! Mid-life crisis alert!

Does anybody, like me, wake up some mornings wishing they could start all over again, having made such a pig’s ear of their life so far? I am having one of those days today and I don’t usually write on bad days so this is new territory for me.

I have just returned from a midweek break with my husband, three of our children and our son-in-law at Center Parcs. We have been there lots of times before and always enjoy it for different reasons. This time, we booked ourselves into a luxurious executive lodge with four bedrooms, each with an en-suite bathroom, and we also had a sauna and a games room boasting a pool table, a multitude of board games and an X-box.

20181113_223724

We often try something new and this time, along with spa sessions, badminton, table tennis, long walks and swimming, we booked ourselves onto a pottery painting session. We had so much fun all week but I have returned to normality feeling completely exhausted and extremely fed up.

IMG-20181115-WA0001

Before we left, I had been really good and managed to lose four pounds in weight as I was quickly becoming one of those frumpy, menopausal middle-aged ladies who I do not aspire to become. While we were away, I avoided the sweet shop, enjoyed just one dessert and made as many healthy choices as I could. I had half of a pizza one evening with some wedges but always had healthy breakfasts. I ensured I had plenty of exercise and my pedometer didn’t hit below 17,000 steps each day with one day reaching 28000 and another, 24,000. I kept track of everything using my weight loss app and assumed I would not lose anything while I was away and, at most, gain a pound or two. I was devastated to step onto the scales yesterday morning to find I had gained five pounds, in five days. It seems impossible to me that I could gain that much over such a short amount of time. So, on top of everything else, the diet/healthy eating has begun with a vengeance. It certainly has not helped my overall mood.

20181113_235535

The usual back-from-holiday washing was easy to plough through. Tracksuit bottoms, leggings, t-shirts and fleeces all being easy to dry and put away, no iron required. Job done.

20181113_142833

A small amount of cupboard re-stocking at Tesco, then we decided to use the free time to do some Christmas present shopping. We had been put in the mood for the forthcoming season as our break was Winter Wonderland themed, and numerous twinkling white lights,  Christmas trees, garlands and faux snow had set the scene, putting us in the mood for Christmas.  We even had a luxurious wreath on the front door of our accommodation.  The whole Parc was alight with Christmas, including an awesome midweek fireworks display culminating, for the benefit of the younger guests, with Santa arriving along one of the zip wires across the festively-lit water sports lake.

20181112_224343

Returning to the shopping, both of us were physically tired, but we ambled around the city centre shops and successfully purchased a number of gifts. Pleased with our achievements, we headed home to snuggle up with a healthy vegetable risotto and to watch Strictly and catch up on some previously recorded TV programmes.

I still couldn’t shake the feeling of doom and gloom which had settled over me. Nagging at the back of my mind was my mum, who has been ill for a few years but had plateaued lately. Before we left, we had batch-cooked a bunch of pies and delivered to her freezer and agreed we would pick her up and take her over to see my daughter and son-in-law’s beautiful new home, recently purchased and now ready for visitors. As suspected, when we called her to arrange times she told us she didn’t feel well enough to go over. It’s possible that she didn’t but there is always a reason not to do something and I knew she wouldn’t bother before I even called. Then I started to beat myself up for being so heartless.  I know she is poorly and it must be very hard but she is her own worst enemy. She doesn’t encourage visitors and refuses to go anywhere. This results in my brother and sister-in-law, and my husband and I being poked at if we don’t visit enough. Its harder than you would imagine, to visit a poorly mother who you have never felt close to. There has always been an acidic relationship between me and my mum and, even though she is ill and alone, I have to psych myself to even call her as she drives me mad. Call me heartless, call me a bitch but it is how I feel.

20181114_102233

The trouble is, and I don’t mean trouble in the usual sense because it isn’t, we have five children of our own, all grown up, and my husband also has a mother who is also on her own. We each have a brother and sister-in-law and don’t spend nearly enough time with them all. We also have a new granddaughter who lives a two hour drive away so we have to factor in visiting to see that part of our family, too. We both work full time and my husband is physically tired in the evenings while I can’t resist checking my emails out of hours and helping with problems where I am able. As Manager of the IT Services department of a busy private school, sometimes issues need to be dealt with there and then.

20181025_113636

We used to dance two or three times a week but, as life takes over and changes happen, we are lucky to dance once a week and maybe twice if we have the energy. We always dance on a Wednesday night as I have a regular commitment to demoing while my husband is a Taxi Dancer, helping beginner dancers, on alternate weeks. This cut down in dance nights surely isn’t helping my fight with weight either.

On a Sunday, we have started meeting friends and/or family and I go off on a three mile walk while my husband takes off on his mountain bike with a friend, or joins us walking on other occasions. We keep as active as our commitments allow.

20181104_153957

We have two more breaks planned for the near future. The first is a dance weekender at a luxurious local holiday centre and it encompasses my 50th birthday while we are there. I am not looking forward to being fifty one jot. I already feel tired and listless and the only burst of energy I get is when I step out onto the dance floor. Maybe I missed dancing while we were away last week. It’s only one week but I guess I didn’t get my fix. There are plans for a birthday celebration while we are at the weekender with dance friends so that will be nice.

20181025_124029

We have another long weekend booked with my brother- and sister-in-law at the start of May which we are looking forward to. We haven’t thought further ahead than that.

So, I have a few reasons for feeling so low right now. Post-holiday blues, weight gain, fast-approaching age of fifty and an aged, ailing mother.

However, I have so much to be thankful for. I have the most caring, supportive, fun-loving and amazing husband I could wish for. Between us we have our five grown-up children, one of them married to our lovely son-in-law, one settled with his fiancee and their baby daughter and three who have yet to settle down but have good jobs and plenty of years ahead of them. I worry endlessly about them all, but never quite feel I give them each enough of my time. While they are mostly more than capable, I have been around a lot more years and so I like to be able to offer guidance and support as needed.

received_307281596752813

If anyone out there has the answer to what is clearly my very own mid-life crisis, I would be grateful for all suggestions. So far, I have spent the weekend exhausted and crying hard enough to give myself a headache.

Ceroc, Dancing, Writer's Blog

Tips for a safer dance floor!

People sometimes display the strangest, often not the safest, habits on the dance floor and here are some observations.

The drinks carrier

Why would you even consider crossing a dance floor, whether it is packed or empty, with a drink in your hand? I can, in some small way, understand crossing an empty hall but when the same hall is likely to be packed with scores of dancers later in the evening, surely even the slightest of spillages is going to be a hazard? During busy dance nights I have often witnessed people carrying drinks straight across the floor, through dancers spinning and moving in all directions and I can but wonder whether they stop to think what would happen if one of those dancers were to plough into them with their drinks. Liquid spillage would cause untold mayhem, and often does, when a simple walk around the edge of the room would cause far less danger.

Ignoring your partner

When you learn to partner dance, one thing you are taught early on is to keep eye contact with your partner and especially with their hands. Without such observation, the follower would have no idea what move is coming next, which direction to move in and which offered hand to hold onto. Interaction between dancers is key to reacting to such visual cues and leads. As the lead it is important to look at your partner for safety reasons to allow you to gauge how to be an effective leader. Its no use zoning out midway through a dance, and then expect the dance to go well.

dancing-28749_960_720

Trying to lead a partner who is drunk

Partner dancing requires concentration and coordination (see above) and dancers who come along to dance events well under the influence of alcohol are often putting other dancers in danger of injury. While it is not seen very often, once now and again we see a dancer arrive at a dance having had quite a bit to drink, and then to continue drinking throughout the evening. Their dancing becomes more erratic and they pull harder as they try to stay upright because of impaired balance. My own husband has suffered a shoulder injury when trying to lead a clearly inebriated lady who was flinging herself around with abandonment. He politely asked her if they could finish the dance early, and he led her back to her seat but a lot of dancers do not have the confidence to do that. It is our responsibility to remain alert and capable of leading or following.

Bumping into other dancers

Inevitably, bumps will sometimes happen although not as often as you might imagine. Most dancers are aware of the space around them and lead their partners into free space with confidence. However, the odd bump is always going to happen and the only way to resolve such incidents is to check over your shoulder (for example) that all is well with the other couple, smile and politely mouth the word ‘sorry’ and move on, a little more carefully. Minor collisions can mostly be avoided but do happen. Be kind and remember nobody bumps into you intentionally.

couple-1299682_960_720

Treating a beginner like an advanced dancer

Dance teachers cannot reiterate enough, how important it is not to dance above your partner’s level. This is more applicable when your partner is a beginner but always be aware of limitations. Some dancers do not want to be dropped almost to the floor or may have injuries which restrict some moves. Mostly, the dancer will tell you if they need you to be careful, but always be aware of your partners level which you can often gauge by how comfortable they appear. In general, when dancing with someone for the first time it is good etiquette to start off with easier to follow moves, progressing until you feel you have matched their level. Most dancers do want to be stretched (figuratively) to their limits and learn new moves but do it with manners and take it down a level or two if they appear to struggle.

Let’s have a lesson right here, right now

If a partner doesn’t follow your move, don’t stop the dance and try to become a teacher in the middle of the dance floor. Unless they ask you to show them by stepping through the move, they would more than likely prefer you to carry on dancing and either sneak the move in again with a clearer lead or leave it out. Its quite embarrassing to be stopped in the middle of a crowded floor to be shown how to do a move which you have clearly not followed, often because it was not led well in the first place.

boy-2023221_960_720

The hand hold pressure

One of the first items covered in a beginner class is the hand hold. Ceroc dance leads are told to offer their hands at waist height with palms facing inwards and with thumbs as far away from the follower’s hands as possible. Thumbs are not there to press on the back of the follower’s hand and they are most definitely not there to stroke your partner! The grip should be loose enough for escape to be possible but just firm enough to push against each other and for the lead and follow to take place with ease. The follower drapes their hand over the lead’s offered hands in a hook shape with wrists low. Again, thumbs should be kept well out of the way. Neither one of you should be squeezing the other’s hands, a gentle grip is far more conducive to a flowing dance, whereas a tight grip can hurt the dance partner.

Be honest if you are being manhandled!

If, during a dance, you feel any physical discomfort – maybe a move twisted your shoulder or your lead is being unintentionally rough – you should feel able to mention it quietly. Most dancers will be more than happy to adjust their moves to prevent this from happening but if it continues, never feel afraid to make your excuses and leave the dance floor. Nobody should suffer injury or feel unsafe on the dance floor.

people-3311900_960_720

Don’t dip if in doubt

If you plan to dip your partner, make sure there is plenty of room around you and you have a firm grip on your partner, who you will already have ensured is capable. On occasion, ladies being dipped have hit the floor and injured themselves, actually been dropped or crashed as they are dipped int someone else’s dance space. You look a fool if you don’t do this properly and you risk injury and embarrassment to your dance partner. If in doubt, leave it out!

Remember, every dancer deserves to be treated politely and safely on the dance floor. let’s keep it a friendly, fun and accident-free zone.

 

Ceroc, Dancing, Writer's Blog

So many dancing styles!

A funeral director dancing with an IT manager or a window cleaner dancing with a beautician. Where else but a dance class such as Ceroc could you find such a diverse group of people? But over and above the outside lives of the dancers, there are so many different types of dance personality to be found on the dance floor. I aim to describe some of them here.

Dancing to the beat of a different tune

Let’s begin with, in my opinion, the worst dancer. This is the one who cannot hear the rhythm of a track, the dancer who appears to be dancing to the beat of the previous track rather than the one everyone else is listening to. For the lead dancer, being able to track the beat is a must. Each set of moves begins with a step back, on the beat, and the follower is drawn in, on the next beat. Yes, the arms and body play a large part in both the lead and follow roles, but if the feet are moving out of time, it is difficult for the follower to keep up with where the lead wants them to move. Without a good connection to the music, the dance can look clunky, at best. More advanced dancers play with the music, pausing and breaking between moves, but its all done with musicality.

Close, but not too close

Some dancers just want to be up close and personal, whatever tune is playing at the time. They seem to have a somewhat smaller dance space than most and, of course, there is nothing wrong with dancing close. Most blues and smooth dancing dictates the need for closeness but some, especially inexperienced dancers, are not comfortable with the lack of space and, hopefully, a more experienced dancer would be able to spot and react to their discomfort. If the more experienced dancer does not react accordingly, the dance becomes uncomfortable and bordering on sleazy.

photo-1539821055359-3284d7de289e

Trying to pull my shoulder out of its socket?

Then there is the lead who repeatedly yanks on the follower’s arms until the follower is quite sore. The only way to avoid injury when dancing with a heavy puller, apart from walking away from the floor mid-dance, is to loosen your arms and give no resistance to the pull. At least that way you will not suffer any injury even if the dance does not flow as well as it could. Trying to look good on the dance floor is certainly not worth an injury, however minor.

Sing your heart out! 

Some dancers just cannot resist singing along as they dance. I have to admit, most photos taken of me on the dance floor, show me with mouth wide open singing my heart out. Sometimes, I just can’t stop myself. I know it doesn’t look cool but I love singing. Singing along can be fun if both dancers are enjoying it but some dancers don’t want my incessant warbling in their ear.

Full-on conversations

Its difficult enough to have a conversation with friends on a dance night. You will be in mid-flow and just reaching the punchline when someone comes along and whisks you off to the dance floor. Its hard to say no when they have plucked up the courage to come over and ask you to dance. Others like to have a full catch up during the dance. While its fine to mention you haven’t seen them at dancing for a few weeks or ask how they are, it is immensely difficult to respond to a full-blown conversation when you are being spun around and away from the person, in and out of earshot. I often nod and smile as I am dancing but have no clue what I am responding to.

The hop and skipper!

There are dancers who get hugely over-excited at the prospect of a particular tune, or dancing with a certain person that they simply cannot contain themselves. They positively leap onto the dance floor, their little feet kicking out at every opportunity, with no care for what they look like but, more worryingly, little care for those around them. They bounce through their dance with excitement and vigour.

photo-1528738984120-effa2ecf6abc

Unaware of all around!

Some dancers have no spacial awareness at all and can often be seen crashing into others on the dance floor. Of course, everyone has the odd bump from time to time, but a good lead will keep their eyes on what is going on around them and avoid mishaps with a change in lead or movement. There are some dancers who think nothing of leading a partner around the floor with no awareness whatsoever of those around them. I try to avoid such dancers as they are a danger to me and others.

The conveyor belt dancer

Often, more experienced dancers have no bounce at all and if you watched them from the waist up you would be forgiven for thinking they are dancing on a smooth belt moving from side to side with ease and grace. These dancers are wonderful to watch, have no bounce and every move is made to look effortless.

photo-1511804269794-309fade1da5d

The Clinger

We all know one of these. A dancer who holds onto their partner at the end of the dance, giving them no means of escape. I have seen one such lead, a man, who often likes to dance with the beginners, and he holds onto the new dancer through up to four or five dances. Its so uncomfortable to watch and unfair on the beginner who needs to dance with as many different partners as they can, in turn gaining much needed experience.

The Slotter

Guilty as charged, but only with a select few, including my husband. We love to dance on the slot and a lot of the more experienced dancers do this with style. Its a fabulous style of dancing where the follower dances backwards and forwards but in a line, while the lead dances around them and steps out of the way to keep the dance on the slot. I find that slotters often stick to the edges of the dance floor to keep them in their slot and away from other dancers’ space.

The Traveller

Yep! Guilty again. I love to travel with my moves and the lead often has to move to keep up with me. Travelling moves work especially well when dancing on the slot (see above) and a large floor area can be covered so spacial awareness is particularly required.

The Floor Crosser

Some dancers travel so far around the floor it is difficult to keep out of their way. They remain in one spot for a couple of moves and all of a sudden they are moving and can be found halfway across the room.  It makes it especially difficult for other dancers when the dance floor is crowded as most couples pick a spot and loosely stick within it, thus avoiding collision, but the floor crossers pay no heed to the dance space of others and dance wherever the mood takes them.

Deaf to Instructions

One dangerous type of dancer is the more experienced dancer who takes to the floor with a beginner and, despite numerous please from the dance teachers to be aware of their beginner status (in our area they were fluorescent wrist bands) and only do beginner moves with them. Those who feel they are far more capable than the dance teacher like to drop new dancers into leans and dips and moves far more advanced than necessary, risking injury to a dancer who has no idea what is coming. they like to try and prove that they are top dog (often they are far from) and show off, which is definitely not what Ceroc is all about.

For the most part, these categories are simply observations I have made over the past ten years of dancing with Ceroc. There are so many dance personalities and styles that I have barely scratched the surface but these loosely cover a lot of styles. One thing is for certain, the dancers with bad reputations are few and far between. Most experienced dancers adhere to the rules and dance safely and with awareness of those around them. its certainly the place to meet people from all walks of life.