Over the last few years I have increasingly become obsessed with Strictly Come Dancing – the BBC show where a group of celebrities get paired with professional dancers, and have to learn a full set of ballroom and latin dances over a number of weeks. As the competition heads towards the final, the celebrities end up learning 2 sometimes 3 new dances a week. It always amazes me how well some of them do at this. Ok – so a few of them come from a stage school background and therefore should have a level of understanding about picking up routines and dance moves, but many have no background training at all, and they still go on to dance with amazing skill.
Every time I watch the dancing, in fact any professional dancing, I think back to when I took regular ballet and modern classes when I was growing up. I still remember passing my first ballet exam and being rewarded with a copy of the (original) BandAid single. I remember the dance studio I went to twice a week … the teachers I had … even the old pianist who would hammer out a tune for us to dance to from the old upright piano in the top left hand corner of the studio! And it’s always with a fairly heavy feeling of regret that I also remember taking the decision to stop dancing as I was starting to study for my A levels, and decided something had to give.
Still .. life goes on .. and I still love watching all kinds of dance .. but this last Strictly season I decided not to sit on the sidelines any longer, and I joined a dance class. It was advertised as a beginner’s class, and luckily I didn’t need to whip up a partner because the advert said “single ladies welcome”. What about single men? Could they get some of those along too so that us “single ladies” could have someone to dance with? To all you single men out there – get yourselves to a dance class! You’ll be fought over and have your pick of who to dance with each week!! I confess I do love a man who can dance! Anyhow I digress!
Where was I? Oh yes, I joined a dance class. The first class was a bit nerve-wracking – going along on my own, not knowing anyone, and unsure of whether I should arrive in complete ballroom dress or not! But the teachers were very welcoming, and I was soon learning my first Social Foxtrot steps, and even the odd Cha-cha-cha step too. For any Strictly lovers out there, I can’t say the name of that last dance without hearing Craig’s voice in my head saying “Cha- cha-chaaaaaaaaaaa dahhhling” …!
The course ran for 7 weeks before Christmas, and I learned basic steps for not only the Social Foxtrot (called social as it is designed for the Tea Dance type situation where you need to be able to go round and round the floor with your partner) and the Cha-cha-cha, but also some steps for the Rumba, Quickstep, Salsa and Waltz. Admittedly, it would be a bit of a boring dance if I was to actually DANCE to a piece of music with a partner, as for each dance I know about 6 steps – but you’ve got to start somewhere!
Last night was our first class back for the new term. I’d bought myself some “proper” shoes from the local Dance Shop and so was really looking forward to getting back into some dancing. We began by reminding ourselves of the steps for the Foxtrot and cha-cha-cha .. but then the excitement really kicked in, as we started to learn the TANGO! I can now do 6 steps of the Tango. I know it’s not much, but believe me, when the music starts … and you’re in hold (which by the way is EXTREMELY tiring) it’s an amazing feeling! Such an emotional dance. The music they used last night was the Moulin Rouge version of “Roxanne” … which is still buzzing around my head this morning.
I have no idea what other dances we’ll cover off this term – but I urge any of you – if you have ever wanted to learn to dance, find a local club and go along. What I love about the class I have joined is that there is a set term, and you get a feeling of progression. Other clubs I looked at invited you to join at any time – which would imply that you might get beginners interrupting a more advanced class at any time. Sign up to a course, where there’s a definite beginning, and go have fun. Not only is dancing a great form of exercise, but it’s very social. I have made several new friends who live in my area that I wouldn’t otherwise have come across. It gives me a feeling of getting involved in the local community, and of course I look forward to it each week. Needless to say … next time there’s a dance, I’m gonna be able to dance around the room with some semblance of knowing what I am doing! I might not be headed for “Strictly Come Dancing” quite yet, but I am on my way … with the goal in sight!
Go on, get out there, start dancing. And Enjoy.