Ceroc, Dancing, Writer's Blog

My Ceroc Journey: Confidence from Zero to Hero

I wrote this post originally because I planned to enter a Ceroc blogging competition and then decided not to enter but thought I would share it anyway.

As I stepped out onto the stage, under the purple and blue lights of the Carnegie Hall, I knew I could do this. My heart was beating wildly in my chest and although I was only a small-part player I was still a player. I could possibly be one of a number of people who made the difference between a beginner returning the next week and catching the Ceroc bug which I had caught over ten years previously or that same beginner not bothering to return.

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Since High School, I had never been a person to flaunt my talents publicly. One chance meeting had changed me from the young teenager who thought nothing of standing on stage with her cornet playing a duet, with a local brass band, in front of hundreds of people, the young teenager who laughed with her friends and been carefree and happy, to one who kept her head down at all times and hated school as much as she had loved it previously.  I had walked into a lesson with my friends, confident and carefree, and the son of one of the maths teachers, who I had never even met before,  had called me a name across the classroom, a name which highlighted a less-than-attractive part of my features, a name which was muttered to me by numerous bullies who caught on to his jibes, throughout my High School years after that day. I felt unworthy of anything more and kept my life understated and introvert, dreading everything from reading aloud in an English Literature class at school, to introducing myself on a training course as a working adult. My confidence was at zero.

My husband and I met when we were in our late thirties and happened upon a Ceroc busk in a local shopping centre, one drizzly Saturday afternoon. We were mesmerised by the dancers and chatted to one or two who were handing out leaflets and promoting the classes. We took away a leaflet, determined to join our nearest class.

A few weeks later we arrived at a class held at a local research park, both quite nervous and still unsure if this dancing lark was for us. We were given a run through of the class format and, with drinks purchased, we found a corner to wait with nervous anticipation. The class began and our teacher, Gemma, demonstrated the first move, which was, quite aptly, called The First Move. It looked so complicated that, in my complete naivety,  I thought it was the whole routine. Newer members of Ceroc will know a different variation of this beginner move. We watched as she broke the move down into stages and then came the next scary step where we were asked to move along the rows to a new partner. I am not sure if I was destined to face my fears all in one night but I came face-to-face with my ex-boyfriend. I hadn’t even known he danced but we were civil and I coped, in fact it was quite amusing, in hindsight.

The lesson continued, three moves completed and the first of the evening’s practice freestyle sessions began. My husband and I went over those three moves as if our lives depended upon it and by the end of two tracks we felt like Fred and Ginger. We were nervous to leave the dance floor as we were convinced we would forget the moves. The session with the taxi dancers was immensely helpful and, without them, I may have left that night feeling rather overwhelmed. Not enough emphasis can be given to a good taxi dancer.

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Needless to say, as we are still dancing now, we were hooked. We returned week after week, sometimes attending more than one class in the area, but almost always at least one. Before long, we had learned all of the beginner moves, around nineteen of them at the time if I remember correctly. However, neither of us felt confident enough to tackle an intermediate class and we continued with the taxi dancer sessions for at least twelve weeks. To this day, I am a firm believer that beginners need to complete as many taxi sessions as they feel they personally need, before embarking on the intermediates too soon. Those sessions give a dancer such a wonderful grounding of the basics which can be easily forgotten if a beginner moves on too early.

There were times when we didn’t go to Ceroc. I had to miss over three months after surgery when we had only been dancing about six months, and I thought I would never get back to dancing. We had been wandering in the city and we came across another busk in the same location as we had first seen it. A couple of our new friends from Ceroc were taking part in the busk and, while we were chatting about whether my husband and I felt ready to return, my friend whisked me onto the dance floor, still in my bulky winter coat. I knew, then, that I just had to return. It was just the push that I had needed and we returned with renewed excitement the same week.

Over the years, our dancing style changed and improved, and as forty-somethings we were keeping incredibly fit. Ceroc was doing us the world of good. We went to freestyles further afield in places such as Watford, Kettering and Colchester and we found we could dance anywhere, with confidence. It was always exciting to dance at a family party because, more often than not, we would be the only Ceroc dancers there and everyone was impressed. Who doesn’t like to show off their dancing skills, right?

There are currently six different venues in our local Ceroc franchise, Ceroc Fusion, and up until two years ago we had rarely ventured outside of the Norwich venues for a class night, instead sticking with the same one or two each week. We had encouraged some relatives of ours, who lived near the furthest venue in Thetford, to start dancing and we offered to go along for moral support. As with all of our venues, the team were a friendly bunch and the dancers were like a family. We loved it there, finding it well worth the few additional miles on the clock each week.

By chance, on one such dance night, the teacher’s demo was unable to make it and Steve, the dance teacher, grabbed me and asked me to demo at the last minute. I was nervous but he assured me I was a good dancer and I just needed to do what I do on a normal night; be led and style it up as required. I could do that! So, with heart pounding in my chest and a gentle flush seeping into my cheeks, I climbed the steps onto the stage as the class were being called to the floor for the beginners lesson.

Over the few weeks we had been dancing at that venue, we had made so many new friends – that’s the thing with Ceroc, you make many friends, far and wide – that I felt a warm reception from those closest to the stage who I dared to make eye contact with. Most of them had only known me for a few short weeks and so had no idea I hadn’t demoed with the teacher before now. The class began and I soon forgot I was standing on a stage, in front of upwards of sixty dancers, under purple and blue lights. I just danced as I always had previously, following the dance teacher’s lead and enjoying the experience. I didn’t even falter when he was demonstrating how NOT to do a certain part of the move. I just went along with it. I was actually enjoying the experience.

Over time, I covered for the regular demo when she was unable to attend and even covered at some of the other venues, too. It became second nature and I was surprised to find that it didn’t bother me in the slightest. Beginners would come over and ask for a dance or for advice and I was happy to share my experience with them. By this time, my husband was a taxi dancer. He, too, had been asked to cover when the regular taxi dancer was injured and now they cover duties on alternate weeks. We are often stopped as we exit the dance floor, to be questioned about a move they may have seen us doing or for general advice and it is heartwarming when we see those dancers taking the advice on board, to be able to help them progress from beginner to intermediate as we have all done ourselves, over the years.

The previous regular demo is unable to get to the venue on a Wednesday night, due to work commitments, so I have now become the regular demo for Steve when he teaches there, and on occasions I still help out at other venues when needed. Looking back, I could never have done this twenty years ago, my confidence still being at rock-bottom. Learning to dance with Ceroc has been a true game-changer for me. As the years have passed and my dancing has progressed, I have gained so much more than the multitude of friends in my dance family. My flexibility is good, apparently my heart and lungs are thanking me for the increased aerobic activity, my bones are stronger and I am keeping my mind active, thus keeping age-related illnesses at bay.

I am approaching my fiftieth birthday which I will be celebrating at a dance weekender, Swish, this coming February, and I cannot thank Ceroc enough for changing my whole outlook on life. I have a new-found confidence that I never thought I would get back. A confidence to do something I never thought I would be able to do, and to do it well.

I can dance!

 

 

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Ceroc, Dancing, Norfolk Beach, Writer's Blog

Swish 2019

I love February! Have always loved February- it being my birthday month, and this year my half century birthday, too. But Feburary is and has been, in the recent past, made even more special because February is when we go to Swish!

Swish, of all the dance weekenders on offer, is on our doorstep, a few miles down the road on the east coast of Norfolk. And Swish is something special indeed.

Held at Potters in Hopton, a five-star holiday resort, we are nothing if not a little spoiled at this Ceroc weekender. Needless to say, the workshops and freestyles spread over the three days, are second to none, but the accommodation and food are top notch too, making it, as advertised, a dance weekender like no other.

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This year is extra special for me, for on the Monday I will be celebrating my 50th birthday and this weekend is the most exquisite foreplay to the start of my celebrations.

We arrived, early of course, at Potters late morning and met up with Matty, Anna, Julie, Anne and Dennis before heading off for the first of many scrumptious lunches. With laughter and conversation aplenty it was already gearing up to be a good one. After lunch, we headed back to the main room to chill while waiting for our rooms to become available. At this stage, we may have over-excitedly bought a fishbowl of Strawberry Daquiri for Anna, Julie and myself to share. Delicious and alcoholic enough to calm the butterflies already circling my stomach. Even though I have attended this event a number of times before, I always get an attack of nervous anxiety before it starts, unnecessary as it is, but it is short-lived.

Our accommodation had been upgraded since our last visit and the room was cozy and the bed comfortable – although the plan being to spend as little time as possible in it. A very short walk from the main venue, the room sported coffee making facilities and all we needed for what is merely a base for a few hours between the dancing. We settled in, had a quick shower and, passing the Aphrodite Spa, popped in to book Clive a back massage and me a manicure for the Saturday morning. I already knew Clive had bought me a new ring for my birthday so nice nails would complement it perfectly when we got home.

Regrouping with friends, and with the addition of Carol and Robert, Sylvia and Rob, Steve and Bridget, Ian and Pauline, Ivan and Nicky, this was set to be a fabulous few days.

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Dinner was foremost on our minds once the unpacking and refreshing for the evening ahead was complete and we headed off to the dining rooms to select from a range of scrumptious courses, certain to refuel us for the evening ahead, with accompanying wine with which to wash it all down.

Meals at Swish (indeed meals at Potters if you fancy a break on the Norfolk coast) are incredibly tasty and in keeping with the five star rating, and I am always grateful that we spend most of the weekend dancing off the tempting excesses. For the overly energetic among us, those for whom days packed with dance workshops and nights packed with freestyle is just not enough, the resort offers a swimming pool wih jacuzzi and steam rooms and a gym, all complimentary for those staying at the resort as well as numerous activities such as, but not exclusive to, karting, segways and yoga.

The evening entertainment was provided, as always, by the Potters Theatre Company and on our first night we were dealt the delights of music through the decades taking us on a journey from the 60s through to the 90s. Songs from singers who didn’t miss a note and dancers who didn’t miss a step ensured our evening started off on a high.

The freestyle dancing began at ten o clock. We didn’t make it through to the end of the dancing at gone four in the morning on the first night, preferring to pace our weekend. However, we danced our suede bottoms off in the main room until two o’ clock and shared immense fun and laughter at the silent disco, something we had never tried before. Our sides ached afterwards, having enjoyed cheesy party tracks such as Macarena, YMCA and even the Birdie Song – don’t judge me!

Saturday morning, despite not crawling into bed until three, having showered the evening’s perspiration away, we met friends for breakfast then headed off to the Aphrodite Spa where Clive had his massage (apparently one of the best he has ever had) and I changed my booking to a double express manicure and pedicure. Once relaxed and pampered Clive headed off to join some of the others while I joined Julie and Sylvia for the ladies styling class with the energetic Becki. Having taken this class elsewhere before, I found the format to be refreshingly fun and relaxed and we looked forward to practising our grocery moves.

After another hearty lunch it was time to burn off more calories with Phil and Alex’s Celebration class, aptly named for the celebratory feeling Phil feels when certain moves just go ‘right’. It was a fun class packed with a number of moves which flowed so seamlessly, once practised, that Clive slotted them into freestyle with ease.

Dinner was, as always, filling and far too tempting for someone like me who has difficulty resisting such delights, promising myself the healthy eating will resume when birthday celebrations finish.

Freestyle did not disappoint. It being Saturday, and following a Bucks Fizz reception in the Atlas Theatre, many dancers had made an effort to dress up a little more formally than for a standard freestyle. From Ceroc Classics delivered by Joe, Paul and Tony in the main room, to another fun silent disco, the evening flew past. Tim’s new addition to the Saturday entertainment, the Party Hour at one pm kept a busy dance floor, with classic party tunes such from past chart toppers such as The Communards and Gina G to fun tunes such as Cotton Eye Joe providing an up-tempo, sweat inducing, foot-agonising foray of partner swapping, tagging and endless laughter from our closer friends. We staggered from the hall at two pm, our minds keen to stay longer, our feet and bodies calling for a much needed rest.

Sunday was another resounding success. The meals, now too fabulous to mention by name, were as scrumptious as the previous day, with as much variety on offer.

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Our first class of the day, after a morning of lazily resting our feet, was a Stops and Blocks class, taught by the highly entertaining Brett. A great class with some impressive new moves, after which we headed off to our friends’ room in the hotel, accompanied by a small gathering of close dance friends, to enjoy fizz and birthday cake as a prelude to my, and Anna’s, birthdays the next day. It being my 50th, my hubby had arranged for a dancing-themed cake and we enjoyed some downtime with our fabulous Ceroc Fusion friends, before heading back to the dancefloor to join in a Double Trouble class.

Glen Brooks provided much fun and many giggles as he and his two demos walked us through some challenging new moves. The class was the last of the weekend and rounded off hours of workshops with tired smiles.

The theme for the evening’s freestyle was white with neon and if it glowed, you’d made the right choice. Neon facepaints were provided and, after the theatre entertainment was over, the floor was soon packed with blinding fluorescence. Top tunes ensured the dancing didn’t miss a beat and it was disappointing when the evening came to an end and the music finally stopped, concluding Swish 2019.

Heading back to the chalet to shower and pack as much of our luggage as possible, we fell with a positive exhaustion into our bed, just four hours before the alarm was due to rouse us.

Swish 2019 has been the best Swish we have attended so far, the team adding to the ingredients just a little more year on year. Just when you think they can’t improve upon a perfect weekend they seem to come up trumps, making it just a little more so.

The Ceroc team, consisting of Paul, Glen, Karen, Tim, Mike and the rest of the fabulous dance teachers and DJs work so hard to provide this weekender for us all, but on the face of it they smile endlessly, showing no sign of the utter physical and mental exhaustion they must feel at some points.

I can’t let this pass without mentioning the fact that I managed a dance with both Tim (Head of Dance) and his husband, Michael, on the same night (extreme awesomeness, as always) but never quite managed to pin Mike (Head Honcho of Ceroc) down for a dance. Guess I will have to wait patiently until next year…I do love a challenge!

 

 

 

 

 

Ceroc, Dancing, Writer's Blog

Ceroc Fusion’s newest venue in Acle

One thing you can never guarantee is the weather and last night was no exception. Cold, verging on, but not quite, freezing, misty at the start and, irrelevantly, dense fog by the end of the evening. But Ceroc Fusion’s keen dancers are a hardy bunch, not to be deterred by a drop in temperature or dampness in the air.

The evening commenced for us with the Sat Nav which we programmed on a ‘just in case’ basis, but it wasn’t needed. The new venue, Acle War Memorial Recreation Centre to give it its full name, was no effort to find with a spacious car park onsite.

We arrived early enough to help Anna, Robert and Carol set out chairs and lighting and were greeted with a slightly flustered, but smiling,  Anna who, naturally, wanted everything to be faultless. The hall itself is perfect for the purpose, spacious and with a good-sized stage for the teacher and DJ. The floor itself, a sports hall style with badminton court markings, was very comfortable to dance and spin on. While obviously not a sprung floor, there was no pressure on the knees and it can be compared to the floor at the John Innes Centre for those who have danced there on a Wednesday night.

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The hall at its most basic – before we added chairs and lighting, a DJ and a class.

As you arrive, the toilets are on the right and to the left is an indoor bowls green. Following the corridor around there is a members-only bar on the left hand side, where dancers are able to purchase drinks and snacks throughout the evening. Opposite to the bar door, on the right, is the door to the dance hall. The overall feel of the venue was amiable and welcoming.

By the time we arrived, the others had set a number of chairs and a few tables around the edges of the hall. We focused on lighting, flags and banners, while Robert set up the stage with his DJ equipment in readiness for the lesson.

With the weather being so cold, a huge turnout wasn’t expected but eager dancers started to filter through the doors at a little after seven, with the hall quickly filling up as the minutes ticked by. When the beginner lesson started, there were well over 60 dancers lined up on the floor, including a number of nervous beginners who had signed up for their first night.

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A selection of dancers practise a move during the beginner session.

The beginners lesson with Gemma ran as smoothly as ever with three packed rows and, by the time it was complete, the hall was filled with more than 90 keen dancers. The floor was busy and everyone seemed to be enjoying the variety of classic and new tunes offered by the DJ, Robert.

It was apparent that we had underestimated the number of dancers who would turn out, and we deposited a lot more chairs after the beginner lesson, simply to allow everyone a spot to rest their legs between dances.

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Dennis, Ceroc Fusion’s photographer, took lots of photos of the opening night, which will appear on the Ceroc Fusion Facebook page.

Despite the room being so full, the high ceiling kept it cool enough to enjoy dancing without the need for fans at this stage, although some are likely to be needed when the warmer weather returns – it WILL come back I am sure. With this venue, there is also the option of opening up the side door (hidden in the above picture by the curtain on the right hand side of the hall) which will provide some air flow when needed. Last night, with the frost and fog swirling outside, was definitely not the time to test it out.

Friends, old and new, joined the intermediate lesson while Julie and Carol took the beginners out to enhance their learning from the beginner lesson. Good feedback was received from the new dancers and, when their session ended, they joined the main hall and freestyle dancing continued until 10.30, when it was time to say goodbye to this, our first night at Acle WMRC.

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After each move is taught, dancers move along to learn with a new partner.

As I mentioned at the start, the weather is always as diverse as the dancers who attend a Ceroc night. Our journey home from this great evening was cloaked in thick, almost freezing, fog but it had no impact on our evening.

Feedback from fellow dancers was positive, the beginners all keen to return – signing up for the offer of six lessons for the price of three before leaving. Sad that it was to have lost the venue at Great Yarmouth on a Friday,  Anna has done well to secure such a lovely, accessible venue on a Thursday night. Most definitely a great new addition to Ceroc Fusion.

For further information about Ceroc Fusion, my personal blog about some of our local freestyles or Ceroc in general click on these links to find out more.

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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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.