Ceroc, Dancing, Writer's Blog

Annual New Year’s Eve Freestyle and Party.

Okay, so I am going to go all in and state that last night’s New Year’s Eve party might just have been the best I have ever been to.

We had decided upon and booked our tickets to the annual Ceroc Fusion New Year’s Eve freestyle and post-midnight party. We intended to say goodbye to 2018 with good friends and lots of fun.

Having offered to help with preparations, we arrived at Wymondham Central Hall just after five o’clock, joined by Julie, Anna and Steve, and proceeded to set out chairs, tables, cloths, candles and lights, while Steve the DJ and Richard, who was in charge of tech for the evening, prepared the stage, lighting and projector for the midnight countdown.

Bags, boxes and trays of food prepared by Anna with the assistance of Steve, were moved into the cool kitchen where they were stored safely and plans for the running order were discussed. With everyone playing a part, a well-organised and fun-filled night was ready to begin, just in time for the first guests, who started to arrive, keenly, before the start.

The hall was soon filled with smartly-dressed dancers of all ages, numbers soon into three figures. I wasn’t able to dance very much on this occasion due to a very minor, but equally painful, achilles injury. I had begun a new regime of activity which is commonly known as ‘exercise’ and it appeared to disagree with me. I will probably try it again in the new year, with the usual pounds to be shed after seasonal indulgence, but I will approach with much caution. After all, I don’t want any injury to affect my enjoyment of Ceroc, do I?

With the hall packed with enthusiastic dancers, it was time for Steve and Hannah to teach their ice-breaker class so, with everyone called to order, the short class began.

Less than half an hour later, the popular warm up class was over and, as if by magic, we had filled three large tables with savoury indulgences. The tables positively groaned, there was so much food – much credit at this point has to go to Anna and Steve who had been making sandwiches, chopping raw vegetables into sticks and cooking party foods almost all day.

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The trays of food were replenished as queues of dancers snacked, eventually the savoury being replaced with refreshing trays of melon, naughty chocolate biscuits, mince pies, bakewells and flapjacks. There was something for everybody.

The evening passed seamlessly, broken up with a ‘Dance with a Stranger’ competition where at various stages throughout the track, everybody changes partner and two lucky dancers who are dancing with the two secret ‘strangers’ at the end are rewarded with a bottle of wine each.

With minutes to go until midnight struck, the stage was prepared, the projector hooked to the laptop and the countdown to the New Year fireworks, London style, began. Everybody had been given party poppers with a couple of larger party canons per table too. As midnight struck, our poppers exploded in time with the first of the fireworks on screen. The hall was filled with the remnants of party popper streamers and cases as we all linked arms to join in the traditional rendition of Auld Lang Syne.

After the midnight kisses, cuddles and well-wishes were done, Steve played party tunes for the next hour. Old and cheesy favourites such as the Cha Cha Slide, Timewarp, YMCA and Superman were interspersed with a Conga and other party favourites.  The Ceroc-ers were all too keen to join in the after party having had their four hours of Ceroc dancing leading up to midnight. The atmosphere was truly electric. Sylvia and Russell, professional party hosts, led the moves to dances such as The Macarena and Oops Up-side Your Head and it was heart-warming to see so many dancers in a party light.

Ceroc Fusion dancers really do know how to have a good time be it dancing with a partner or taking part in other aspects of a fun party. I feel honoured to know such a fabulous bunch of people.

Happy New Year, 2019, Ceroc Fusion and all your members.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

***

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Ceroc, Dancing

Dancing! On a school night?

Must leave on time, not let work us delay,
Quick shower, fresh clothes, then we’ll be on our way.
Maybe make time for some crackers with cheese,
Rush from the door, grabbing dance shoes and keys.

Some journeys are long, destinations quite far,
After a work day, we’ll just rest in the car.
Take time for ourselves, watch our energies soar,
For when we hear music, we’re straight to the floor.

Pulsing and rhythmic, we cannot resist,
Friends we see each week, and some we have missed.
Blood, now is pumping, to learn we are ready,
Beginners and newbies, some can feel unsteady.

Class, normal format, a welcome routine,
Rows of new faces, to learn they are keen.
Moves broken down into steps, made so easy,
Danced to the rhythm of tunes, not so cheesy.

Pump of the music, adds flair to the strut,
Arms adding style to the movement of foot.
A wiggle, a roll or a tilt of the head,
Tuning the movements which smoothly are led.

Varied our dance nights, and rarely just one,
Weeknights a-plenty, just can’t be outdone.
Where else can you enjoy a school-night out, such fun,
For less than the cost of a burger and bun?

Shaking our booty or dancing in hold,
Mentally keeping us from e’er growing old.
Strengthen the core, posture long through the spine,
Fitness over fifty will surely be mine.

Dreadful, we feel, if a week we must miss,
For dancing promotes such a feeling of bliss.
Wouldnt be without it, life no longer would rock,
Such a huge family, our friends from Ceroc!

Ceroc, Dancing

Grease (the movie, not the icky stuff) themed freestyle in North Norfolk

Tonight was Ceroc Fusion’s themed freestyle, held at North Walsham Community Centre. May not sound overly glamorous at first glance, but read on.

As with many Ceroc freestyles there is often a theme, giving dancers the chance not only to meet with fellow dancers and have a great time, but to dress up according to the given theme. Dressing up is always optional but often over 50% of the attendees embrace it.

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Me with hubby, Clive, in our Rydell High costumes!

Tonight, the theme was Grease, the movie. As you can see from the scattering of pictures in this article there were some fabulous costumes. More photos can be found on the Ceroc Fusion Facebook page.

Dancers were well fed with hotdogs, nachos and popcorn on offer, embracing the 50’s theme, throughout the evening as well as coffee and biscuits as is the norm at this venue, towards the end of the night,

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Just some of the tasty (themed) treats on offer

Adorning the stage (as well as tonight’s fabulous DJ, Steve Fulcher) was a huge array of garage props from engine oil cans to car tyres and jacks, lending atmosphere to the room, also dressed with 50’s themed decorations. This was, by far, one of the best dressed Ceroc freestyles I have ever attended.

For one night only (or so I am led to believe) Steve C hosted a fun lesson to get everyone in the party mood. When I say  ‘one night only’ I am not alluding to the fun freestyle (there are more often than not fun lessons at a freestyle) but the actual lesson from Steve – a Grease-themed line dance. Those of you who know our dance teacher, Steve, well enough, will be aware he is not the biggest fan of line dancing in general so this was a huge step for him. We hope to see him grace the dance floor the next time the Ceroc official Nu Line tunes are played but this is unlikely, nigh on impossible. He gathered seven of us together to learn and help demonstrate the routine on stage. It was met with a great response with almost everybody joining in the fun and enjoying a half-hour giggle before returning to the matter at hand – more dancing.

Costumes ranged from Danny and Sandy in  various states of dress, male versions of Sandy and female Dannys to the numerous 50’s style prom style dresses and outfits. Teacher Steve delighted the class with his Dolly-Parton-esque costume just for the lesson, dressed as Sandy’s sister, Randy. Sandy apparently being unable to make a guest appearance. Dressed in tight black faux leather leggings, a red blouse secured with the customary fifties belt and a blonde ponytail wig, he sweated his way through the fun class, eager to return to his Danny costume. For photographic and video evidence of this, you will need to go to the Ceroc Fusion Facebook pages:

http://www.facebook.com/cerocfusion

https://www.facebook.com/groups/10331737186/

Steve F, tonight’s DJ, pulled out all the stops, ensuring that tunes in line with the theme were mixed in with just the right amount of up to date music keeping  the dance floor busy all night, right up until midnight when they were forced to stop.

Dancers, both young and old, were in great spirits throughout the evening and, as they left, appeared exhausted and sore of foot from having such a good time.

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Too many fabulous costumes to mention individually.