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

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, Writer's Blog

Haunting Halloween freestyle

The image staring back at me was far from friendly, more fearful, frightening and shamefully forgotten. The semi-hidden, hollow eyes hid a previously untold tale of loss and grief and I sensed they knew only of wandering darkened corridors, searching for a happiness which was long-since departed. The dress hung tattered and torn to shreds, where once draped a beautiful wedding gown of ivory silk. The now-grey floral headdress flowed, with a darkened, somewhat smoky edge, into a delicate grey-edged lace veil.

Lifting the once-pristine, lacy mask from the desperately forlorn visage, I could almost taste the loss of a life she once knew, once planned for, and now only yearned for. Her delicately painted features now hidden under a desolate mask of spidery webs and blackened veins, so dark and mysterious, seeping from the corners of unseeing eyes, trailing across her sunken cheekbones and framing her purple lips. A trail of veins carrying their once-gushing deep blue life fluids, now blackened in death, led way to a shorter, darker, reddened trail which flowed around and from her delicate, white neck, telling the story of her final, excruciating moments before she was torn from her beloved and left suspended in a land of nowhere, the eternal space separating life from death.

With one more appraising gaze from top to toe, I was pleased with the reflection of my corpse bride outfit and make-up for this evening’s annual Halloween freestyle at Ceroc. My husband walked through from the bedroom, already wearing his skeleton t-shirt and sporting an eerie green face paint broken only with temporary tattoos of scratches, bloodied bullet holes and angry gashes. I helped him add the final touches, painting him a wicked mouth and we were ready to leave.

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Ceroc Fusion did not disappoint. With ghosts and skeletons, creepy spiders and pumpkins adorning the dance hall, bar and entrance, the venue was seasonally transformed into a ghoulish den of horror and fear. An array of edible treats were on offer which included chocolates, sweets, crisps and, for the healthier dancers, trays filled with a variety of melon slices.

The dance floor was soon filled with ghostly apparitions, witches of the friendly and the wicked variety, devils, skeletons, counts and even a Joker from Batman. A Cruella DeVil from 101 Dalmatians, resplendent in her two-toned wig and dress moving fluidly alongside spinning grim reapers, jesters and bleeding corpse brides. The facial make-up was both as intricate and varied as it was amusing and, for some, quite terrifyingly accurate.

Steve the evening’s teacher and DJ, playing a varied mix of floor-fillers to keep the dancing ghouls gyrating, was surrounded on his platform by severed limbs, spiders in their webs, pumpkins and even a giant flesh-eating rat. His fun lesson comprising of two moves, the Scream Switch and the Ghost Train, had dancers giggling and squealing and eventually screaming on cue, setting the scene for a truly gruesome party.

Freestyle. Ceroc Fusion.
Ceroc Fusion really know how to put on a great freestyle.

Later in the evening, the compulsory fancy-dress competition was extremely difficult to judge, with so many dancers having made such a tremendous effort but a shortlist of seven was drawn up, with fellow dancers carrying out a secret vote for the two deserving winners of a bottle of wine each. Every single person who adorned a costume and make-up was deserving of a prize but a choice had to be made.

It was lovely, as always, to welcome dancers from other areas including St Neots, Downham Market, Great Yarmouth and Bury St Edmunds to name a few of the non-locals.

Halloween freestyles are up there with my annual favourites, but a good freestyle needs good music, good hosting, a good venue and a good number of dancers and this one ticked all of the above. A ghoulishly, gruesome, garishly ghostly but genuinely glowing, great night.

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Just a note, for the four people who asked me last night about my dance shoes (and for the many who have asked before), I have added a link to both colours below. I think they are available in blue, too.