I’m married. Which means I had a wedding. And it’s traditional to do a “first dance” at a wedding. And, being a middle-class white guy, I’m not so good at dancing. So I agreed to go along to some dance classes in the run up to my wedding.
I honestly don’t remember my initial reaction to the idea. I was probably a bit sceptical and needed a bit of convincing. But I was madly in love and would have done pretty much anything for my fiancee at the time (for the record, I still am and I probably still would!).
So, living in trendy West London, as we did at the time, we started going along to trendy West London Salsa classes.
It was great fun, and I quickly became a dance-class evangleist (if not a particularly great dancer), telling lots of people that they should go because it was great fun.
Salsa classes were very social: held in trendy, West London bars or large town hall buildings, partners moved around during the class so you got to know, and dance with, lots of people.
It quickly became an important part of our weekly diary. And, yes, we did manage to dance a little bit of salsa at our wedding reception without looking like complete dorks. Mission accomplished.
Then we left trendy West London and moved to Swindon. We tried to keep the dancing up and found a Salsa class in GW’s, but it wasn’t as good, I didn’t get on with the teaching, and they soon stopped that class because the function room in the pub was refurbished.
We tried a Tango class in a Hotel in Old Town, and that was OK, but, for some reason I can’t remember, we didn’t go back.
Then Sally spotted a poster in her office for a Latin and Ballroom class in Lambourne. That’s not too far from Swindon, so I agreed to go along and try it out.
(Aside: Lambourne turned out to be much further from Swindon than I thought, and trekking backwards and forwards on Tuesday nights has certainly had its moments..including probably the most dangerous car journey of my life through the West Berkshire hills in heavy snow!)
The class was very different, but very good. The teacher was fantastic and the class far more personal. You go as a couple and stick with your partner for the whole class, which has been really nice. And we learned a whole load of different dances from the suave, slick, and very difficult Foxtrot, through the giggle-inducing “dance of luuuuurve” called the Rhumba, to our favourite: the strong, passionate Tango.
We’ve had great fun doing it, but it’s not been without frustrations. We’re younger and much quicker learners than others in the group, we’re much more open to learning new things, plus we, and we alone, really enjoy modern music (El Tango de Roxanne, Gotan Project, and Paolo Nutini amongst others). In short, it feels like we’ve staganted a little and the long trek to Lambourne has become a bit of a chore.
So, today, we thought we’d try something different. Various friends of ours have been doing Lindyhop (a form of Jive) for a while, and we found our about a class here in Swindon. So we went along.
And it’s really good! It’s stage led, so it’s less personal, and we’re back to moving partners every few minutes…but that’s a good thing. It’s a well taught class and it’s nice to have a challenge again. Plus it’s a BIG group in a big venue that seems to have a nice sociable feel to it, so maybe a chance to make new friends too.
Our Rock-and-Roll experience, and the one or two Jive/Lindyhop lessons we’ve had will make picking the basics up pretty quick, plus over the years we’ve learned to learn how to dance, so I’m hoping we’ll quickly progress to intermediate level.
We won’t be recreating Hellzapoppin anytime soon, but it’s nice to be doing something new.