Dancing, Writer's Blog

Lava – Ceroc Fusion’s hot new freestyle

It’s always a gamble to try something new, but unless something new is offered, nobody will ever know if taking a chance is going to pay off. Ceroc Fusion have been running themed freestyles for many years now, often focusing on older eras such as 60’s vs 70’s or 80’s vs 90’s and Motown and film-themed nights, but there has not yet been a freestyle catering for those who enjoy music from the most recent decade. That is, not until the idea of Lava was born.

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Making the most of the most recent, active, addition to Ceroc Fusion’s venue list, Acle Recreation Hall was booked and the planning of the newest freestyle theme began. Steve was the DJ for this event and his playlist combining a mix of funky and upbeat to smooth and flowing tunes of the most recent era was soon in full flow.

Anna made plans for a buffet table and, with the kitchen facilities perfect for such an event, also made provision for teas and coffees to be available. The event followed a closed staff workshop so there were plenty of Ceroc Fusion staff on hand to assist with the setting out of chairs and tables before the freestyle began.

Dancers started to arrive before the advertised start time of four o clock, eager to check out this new event, and seats were soon filling up, additional chairs squeezed in to allow dancers a resting spot when needed. The first hour soon passed and it was time to brew teas and coffees and prepare the buffet table, which became full to bursting with savoury treats including a variety of sandwiches, crisps, cheese straws and sausage rolls to name a few, with mini muffins and brownies, Victoria sponge cakes and chocolate fingers among the sweet treats at the other end of the generous table.

With so many buffet choices on offer, it was great to see so many people enjoying Steve’s top tunes, there certainly being an excess of calories to burn off after indulging in the gorgeous refreshments.

Despite the extensive buffet, the floor remained continuously full throughout the three hour event, the funky tunes were clearly a great success. I was pleased to have the opportunity to dance with some partners I have never had the pleasure of dancing with before, even though I was helping with the refreshments and buffet.

Steve’s on-point playlist consisted of possibly the most supreme mix of explosively funky and silky smooth tunes from recent years and dancers enjoyed the diversity and mixture of fast tempo flowing seamlessly into smoother, more soulful tunes.

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The event finished at seven, after three hours of solid dancing for many, with lots of dancers taking the time to compliment Steve for his awesome music and Anna for her well-received buffet and refreshments. This gamble most certainly paid off, with more than seventy dancers leaving the venue on a Sunday evening with smiles, many asking if Ceroc Fusion would be running a similar event in the future. I am confident they will take a chance on another later in the year!

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Credit to Dennis Briggs photography for the buffet pictures and the picture of me dancing with Clive at the end of the evening.

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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!

 

 

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, Daily Life, Kite flying, Moving house, Places to write, Poem, Writer's Blog

Goodbye 2018

Clear away the giftwrap,
Remove baubles from the tree,
Time to close another year,
Reflecting back, a summary.

Its easy to remember,
The bad times which passed by,
But don’t forget the good times,
For 2019, standards are high.

The weather, it was varied,
In March,  we were snowed in,
For just a few short days and then,
In May, a heatwave did begin.

Increasingly warm weather,
The heat which we were blessed,
Some found it very hard to bear,
Was novel not to need a vest!

The summer months were endless,
The time was slow to pass,
We spent much time meandering,
On the beach and in the grass.

Kites were held aloft, up high,
The breezes light and few,
Time for me to ponder then,
To write, I began anew.

With still much time for dancing,
The air-con a mighty draw,
To cool our bodies as we moved,
Around and over the dance floor.

Family bringing changes to,
Our lives both far and near,
New homes acquired, a baby too,
New jobs, loved ones, a busy year.

Life is filled with tragedy,
Events we can’t control,
So keeping close those dear to us,
Is our friend and family role.

Never letting loved ones,
Through our fingers slip,
For hold tight onto those who care,
Will never lose our faithful grip.

The year of 2018, done,
Its time to start anew,
And as the clock strikes midnight here,
I wish a Happy New Year to you.

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!

***