My husband wasn’t even my husband as we walked through the shopping mall in the centre of busy Norwich. The month was September, the date I have no idea, but it was a dull Saturday in 2007. Wandering aimlessly, with no real purpose, we were each happy to enjoy the other’s company. Drawn to the lively beat of music playing at the far end of the mall, we headed towards the happy sound. As we drew nearer, we realised it was a dance class demonstration. A local Ceroc franchise was showing off their skills and encouraging newbies to go along to learn to dance, meet new friends and, apparently, it would be the most fun we could have midweek!
We were hooked on the idea of a new and shared experience, heading to the website to find our local classes, we chose one and, a few short weeks later, we stood in front of the desk, filling in membership forms with hands ever-so-slightly trembling with anticipation.
The dance teacher announced the start of the class and couples headed to the dance floor while single dancers, headed to the side of the room to pair up with other singletons. None of it mattered because the dancers moved along the rows, learning to dance with everyone in the room. The first move was broken down into smaller parts and, midway through the move, the ladies were asked to move four men along. Reluctantly letting go of my partner’s hand I moved along and, only in my life could this happen, came face to face with one of my ex-boyfriends. One word threatened to escape BUGGAR! Composure firmly in place, the actual word that was uttered was HELLO!
The class continued and, having learned only three moves which was most definitely enough for the first night, we felt like Fred and Ginger as we danced said moves repeatedly. Resolve firmly in place, we signed up for the latest offer and tucked away our 6 for the price of 3 card and left with much excitement and very sore toes.
As with most new ventures, the way to improve is to practice, practice and practice again. We practiced in our tiny lounge, bickering being a major part of our sessions, and we attended two classes a week for months. Slowly, but surely, we started to improve, and dancing quickly became a huge part of our lives. At times, we struggled, and tears were high on the agenda. Mine, not my partner’s. He struggled with some moves but soldiered on, bravely asking teachers and fellow dancers alike to join him for a dance. I, on the other hand, hid away from other dancers. I followed my partner when he went to the bar and even to the toilet (I didn’t go in with him, naturally) but it meant I could avoid dancing with strangers. I was so nervous that if I noticed a male dancer approaching the table, I darted to the toilet myself or launched myself into my dance bag and continued to rummage until the danger had passed. This went on for months. Sometimes I wasn’t quick enough and, the answer ‘no’ being light-heatedly frowned upon when asked to dance at Ceroc classes, I had to dance. I was often difficult to lead and bordering on rigid, such was my fear of tripping over or making a fool of myself.
Looking back, I wish I had danced with more strangers as my fears would have passed far more quickly.
Having now danced for over ten years, my husband (that happened about two years into our dance classes) and I are now good dancers and do our best to encourage beginners to enjoy the experience and not take themselves so seriously. We didn’t start our dance lessons until we were in our late thirties, but it doesn’t matter when you start. Learning to dance is a fun, enjoyable experience and, unless auditioning for the Royal Ballet, should remain so. Looking back, it’s the one thing I would tell my non-dancer self. BE YOURSELF. RELAX. DANCE WITH ANYONE AND EVERYONE WHO ASKS YOU.
My husband was recently asked to become a helper in the beginner class, we call them Taxi Dancers, and I dance with the dance teacher on stage. Don’t be overly-impressed, I do not teach. I follow the lead of the teacher and simply demonstrate the follow role. That is not to say I don’t find it an honor. I love that I have been chosen to demonstrate how the moves are put together. Dancing has pushed my confidence to new levels, not to mention it keeps us both fit, supple and is, apparently, extremely good as an exercise for the brain, helping with prevention of age-related dementia, for example.
I would recommend dance classes to anybody who asked me. It doesn’t have to be Ceroc. There are numerous classes such as Salsa, Ballroom, etc. Each style differs but they are all a great boost to both mental and physical health. Give it a go! Contact me if you have questions. I am always happy to spread my enjoyment and love of dance.
By Julie Goodswen, a passionate writer and dancer, she also manages (https://storytellingdancer.com)