The First Steps

22 Nov 2017 - by Graham

Getting onto the dance floor that first time can be daunting. Whether your friend says "Hey, let's go to a dance class this Thursday. You coming?" and drags you along for the ride, or even if you make the decision all on your own, that first time of walking through the door to give it a go can be a scary experience. You just know that everyone else will be better at it than you, that you have two left feet and no sense of rhythm, that you're too tall / short / fat / thin to look right on a dance floor, and that you're not sure you really see the point of it all anyway. You might glance at the advert for the local dance club every week thinking that it looks fun, but move on because it's "not for you". Or maybe you signed up for a class once because it seemed like a good idea at the time but, when it actually comes to heading out in the evening and trying the class you can't quite make that step. Some people even pay for the classes in advance and turn up, but when they look through the door they see a lot of "experienced dancers" (who are probably only on week one or two themselves), decide they can't possibly do that, and they go away again without coming in.

The thing is though, we've all been there. Every single person in a dance club had a "first night". My own first time dancing was a while ago now, but I still clearly remember walking through that door and feeling like everyone in the room stopped what they were doing to watch me walk across the floor to a spare seat. Obviously no-one actually did that and I doubt anyone other than the lady on the door knew I was even there, but I felt like I was under a microscope. But I had decided that I'd give it a go, so I sat down, did the class, and went home again as soon as possible after the teaching had finished! But something had clicked, and I was back again the following week to give it another go. And eventually... well here I am.

For men in particular there's also peer-pressure to contend with, and the reaction you're likely to get if you tell people you dance or that you're thinking of learning to dance. Dancing isn't seen as "manly" these days (whatever that's supposed to mean), and mockery from friends and colleagues can be difficult to deal with. If you told them that you went out on a Friday night to drink 17 pints and passed out in a taxi they'd slap you on the back and say "Well done!", but tell them you go dancing and they'll laugh and ask "Why?". This says a lot more about society than it does about dancing, but whatever the cause the pressure is real, and so even if you overcome the fear of walking through the door that first time, unless you keep your dancing life completely secret you still have to deal with what happens when you walk back out again.

But if it's that scary, why does anyone ever do it? If everyone feels like that when they turn up at their first class then why do they ever come back? And what even gets them through the door in the first place?

There are a lot of health benefits to regular dancing and I'll be talking about those on here in the next couple of weeks, but if it was only about fitness and health then we could all just go to the gym. There must be more to it than that. So what is it about dance that makes it special? Why do some people - quite a lot of people if you look at it nationally - choose to push through that initial fear and carry on dancing? I could get all scientific and start talking about endorphins and the psychology of dance (I'll touch on some of that in the next few posts), but most people don't worry about all of that; they just know it makes them feel good.

And that's the most important part of it all. If you talk to anyone who dances regularly and ask them why they do it they'll start off by telling you "because it's fun". They might then go on to tell you about the challenge or the exercise or any number of other technical aspects, but look into their eyes whilst they are talking and you will know that what really drives them is "fun". We need fun. We need to be able to let off steam for a while or we go crazy. We need to be able to relax and do something a bit different.

So what conclusion can we take from all this? That your first time dancing is going to be scary? Yes, it will, but it was just as scary for everyone else in the room when they first started as they had exactly the same insecurities and fears as you. But the other conclusion is that you will never know if you really love it until you try, and in order to find that out you have to take the First Steps into the room and give it a go.

Posted by: Graham   Permalink: link   Keywords: First Time  Dance  

From the Dance Floor

14 Apr 2017 - by Graham

Running any club or class like Jivebeat can be scary at times, as you never really know what people think or if they like what you are doing. So when we receive comments like this, it absolutely makes everything worthwhile.

"Way back in January 2016, my New Years resolution was to try out Ceroc but my battles with shyness & anxiety won over, a year went by & I had done nothing about it. Then in February this year, I found out that Jivebeat (Leroc - similar to ceroc) was starting up in Sevenoaks just 3 miles from home & on a Friday night - No more excuses. I went along to the launch night & loved every minute. I've gone along every Friday since, I've been learning to dance, have met some lovely people & made some new friends. Being a Friday is such a bonus as there are no early mornings the following day. So if you fancy learning modern jive with a very friendly & welcoming group, come along." Georgina

(Reproduced with permission)

Posted by: Graham   Permalink: link   Keywords: Review  Ceroc  LeRoc  First Time  

My first time dancing

07 Jan 2017 - by Graham

Do you remember the first time you went dancing? Do you remember what it was like walking into that room, never having danced before, and seeing all those people with their 'proper' shoes waiting for the class to start? Do you remember thinking "I could never do that!" and wanting to run out of the room at the first opportunity when no-one was looking? I do. I remember my first time very clearly.

It was at a Ceroc venue about eight years ago. I had gone along to prove to myself that I couldn't dance... which seems a strange way round to do things, I know, but it made sense at the time. I had often thought about trying out some form of dancing and loved watching other people do it, but assumed I'd be no good at it as I was no good at any other sport. But you can never be sure until you try, so I had gone along to prove I couldn't dance.

Anyway, I walked into the room, filled out my membership form, and went and sat down to wait for the class to start. Some people said hello to me as they came in, but mostly I just sat and waited. Then the class started.

I had no idea what I was doing. I followed along as best I could and I'm reasonably sure I didn't injure anyone in the process, but it was a mess. There was a practice session after the beginners' class so I went along to that and one of their Taxi Dancers - coaches for the beginners - went through it all again with me, but I still wasn't getting it. So I went back in to the main room to get my stuff and go home. I knew I would give it at least one more go as not knowing what to do isn't the same as not being able to do it, but I didn't hold out much hope I would ever get more than the basics.

As I left, there was a couple dancing near the back of the hall and I stood and watched them for a while. Their dancing flowed like something that had a life of its own and I couldn't look away until they were finished. I knew I'd never be able to dance like that, but it convinced me to stick around for a few more weeks and see what happened.

The following week, I came back, and much to my shock the girl who I had watched dancing at the end of that first class was part of the crew, and was the beginners' coach for the week. Her name was Kate, and over the next few weeks she helped me understand the classes, fixed the worst of my mistakes, and encouraged me to stick around to see how far I could go. Not that I needed any encouragement by then of course, because after that second class I was hooked.

Fast-forward a few years and I became part of the crew at a Ceroc venue myself doing the same job for others that Kate had for me, and then a couple of years later here I am teaching my own classes and running Jivebeat. I lost touch with Kate a few years back when we all changed venues, but I do wonder how much of this would have happened if she hadn't looked after me those first few weeks.

Kate... wherever you are... thank you.

Posted by: Graham   Permalink: link   Keywords: First Time  Ceroc  LeRoc  

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