My first ever Warmwell Weekender

Even though I’ve been dancing since 2010 – the year Warmwell actually started – I only got to hear about it last year.  My friend DJ Sue Astle just happened to mention she was off to Warmwell.  I remember asking her what it was.  When she explained that it was one of the best weekenders around, I suggested she help me do a review of it.  So last year I wrote a seven thousand word review even though I wasn’t there (see link below).

Sue gave me a lot of pointers and I supplemented this with a lot of material I found on Facebook.  The more I researched and wrote about this well loved weekender, the more I realised that I had to be there myself this year.

Knowing how quickly the ladies places sold out, I immediately booked two Lodges for my Nottingham Dance Gang friends.  Probably like everyone Warmwell was then forgotten as we danced a whole year away.  Two weeks ago we suddenly woke up to the fact that we would soon be of on a fantastic dance adventure, and we started counting the sleeps.

Everybody had the most wonderful time

We all had the most wonderful time, but so it seems did everyone else, and having experienced the joy of three days with seven hundred like-minded people I can see why.  In this first review of the weekend, I thought I’d try to pinpoint what people love about Warmwell.  In amongst my own thoughts I’ve mixed in the views of many of the others who attended.

Many of these viewpoints I obtained with chatting to people over the three days, others I gleamed from the many comments that were posted over Facebook during and immediately after the event.

My thanks to all the people who gave me their thoughts, and for those that gave me permission to use their Facebook postings.  Your comments gave me insights that I might have otherwise missed, so thank you again.

1:  We ❤️ the build up and the growing anticipation

Going to a Weekender, as much loved as Warmwell, is a bit like Christmas when we were kids – at some point we start counting the sleeps.  Christmas always seems a long way off but then suddenly it gets closer.  When most of us booked Warmwell it was a long a long time ago, but in the last week counting the sleeps has become a pastime that has afflicted many of us.

Suddenly the ladies are wondering what dresses and shoes to pack and everybody’s organising their fancy dress outfits.

Arrangements are being made for car sharing and bottles of wine and Prosecco are being stock piled.

Colin Shaul, who along with Gareth ‘Gazza’ Forge runs Warmwell, had been jacking up the anticipation on the Warmwell Facebook Page as he sold off the last male places and counted down to the big day.  We received e-mails giving details of the extensive programme of classes and we started planning which ones we wanted to go to.  It was not long before people start posting their excitement on Facebook:

Looking forward to this weekend, one of the best on my calendar.  Clive

First-timers, like myself and my Nottingham Dance gang friends are prone to added excitement.

WARMWELL! So excited for my first time with you all.  Jayne

Then suddenly the day arrives:

NO MORE SLEEPS !!! Whoop whoop.  Sue

Another popular pre-weekender tradition is to post a selfie as you set out on your journey.  I couldn’t help smile when I saw a post from DJ Billy Cullen and his wife Doreen as they were just about to board their plane from Glasgow Airport.  The teachers were getting in on the act too:

Looking forward to teaching all you lovely people at our first MJRoc Warmwell Weekender. Salsa teacher Paul Marcel

As people arrived the excitement built to another level.  It was after all just like Christmas:

We have arrived😍 let the laughter and frolics begin…. oh yes and of course some dancing.  Christine

Christine’s post said it all, but sadly I was still battling through the rush hour traffic on the A31.  It would be a little time before I joined in the fun.

2:  We ❤️ the warm welcome

As myself and my Dance Gang friends approached Warmwell we felt a little apprehensive – it was after all our first time.  How easy would check in be?  We weren’t all arriving at the same time.  I was one of the last to arrive and I was the lead name – would my friends get the keys OK?

We didn’t need to worry.  The first of us to arrive got the keys sorted with little drama.  Check in had been a breeze.  When I arrived with another three friends we were met by Colin himself.  I got the feeling that Colin was greeting as many people as he could, and that everyone got the same warm Warmwell greeting as my Dance Gang friends.  Here’s what someone told me when I asked what they loved about Warmwell:

For me, one thing would have to be the wonderful warm friendly welcome you get.  Sue

Enough said.  There is no doubt that the people who booked everyone in, and sorted the wrist bands presented a wonderful first impression of Warmwell.  Well done to all the Welcoming Team.  Greeters – Steve J, Stevie, Jack B and Steve H.  Check-in – Nicky, Lesley, Sue S, Sue, Tracey, Greg, Christine, Amanda and Helen.  Wristbands – Antonio, Kevin and Terry.

Everyone appreciated the smiling faces that Nicky and the rest of the crew greeted us with

3:  We ❤️ the Lodges

Now I don’t want to knock the wonderful weekenders that the Dance Gang have enjoyed at Pontins Holiday camps, but there is just no comparison between the chalets there and the lodges at Warmwell.  I don’t think we could believe how wonderful they were.  I’m sure we weren’t the only ones to be impressed.  Here’s what one other person told me about what she loved about Warmwell:

The comfort of the Lodges – especially at this time of year!  They were so lovely and warm, and I really enjoyed turning up and having the bed already made!  Troy

But it’s the setting too.  The lodges are set in the middle of beautiful parkland, and I loved that we walked past a restful lake on the way to and from our dancing.  Here’s another comment I received:

I think the venue itself is amazing.  It’s set in beautiful countryside and visits from the wildlife, especially the deer, are delightful. Doreen

But its more than the comfort.  One of the big things about the lodges is the way they become the centre of the social fabric of the weekend.  Here was a place for all my Dance Gang to congregate before and after our dancing.  Here’s what fellow Dance Gang member Anne had to say:

Because the lodges were so comfortable we did more socialising in them.

That socialising and getting a chance just to chill out with friends in a comfortable setting is one of the joys of Warmwell.  I spotted this photo on Facebook.  I suspect this scene is typical of the many get togethers that gook place over the weekend.

What a great way to spend your time away from the dance floor

4:  We ❤️ the Ice-breaker Class

My Dance Gang friends didn’t really know anyone.  We did eventually recognise a couple of faces from the Nottingham area but that was all.  I suspect that there were many people, like ourselves, that felt a little lost in the sea of faces on the dance floor, so it was great that a 45 minute Ice-breaker class was organised at 8:30 on the Friday night.

The lesson was run by Modern Jive teachers Matt and Sarah.  They very cleverly put together a routine that was not only a whole load of fun, but maximised the number of people you interacted with.

The more the lesson went on, the more I felt part of the friendly vibe that was starting to build out on the dance floor, so when the dancing started for real I was relaxed enough to ask anyone to dance.  Needless to say all my requests for a dance were met with a warm smile.  I couldn’t have wished for a better start to what turned out to be an awesome first night of dancing.

5:  We ❤️ the Main Room music

Of course we have all come to dance, and most people are drawn towards the uptempo sounds of the Main Room.  Regular readers of my blog will know that I have, not only a passion for dance music, but a great respect for the DJs who serve it up.  On Friday and Saturday night, the music for the prime dance times was in the hands of two exceptional DJs – Billy Cullen and Kane Jenner.

I now spend my life touring freestyle venues across the country and I dance to a lot of main room music.  I have learnt that the very best DJs carefully craft their playlists to create a vibe out on the floor that keeps the dance floor packed and excited.

Both Billy and Kane impressed me with their track choice. and time and time again I could feel the vibe building out on the floor.  Several times I found myself climbing the stairs on to the stage to ask ‘What was that last thumping track?’  As I stood waiting for Billy or Kane, as they cued up their next track, I could below me a sea of dancers fully engaged with their fabulous music.

When ever I go to a weekender I always pick one DJ set to write a separate review of, so in the weeks to come I’m going to write a more details review of Billy’s music over his three night shifts.

In the meantime here’s a taster of his fabulous music.  Come rain, come shine by Jenn Cuneta has a thumping beat from the very start, that once it gets hold of you never lets go.  No wonder then that Billy played it on every one of his three nights behind the decks.

6:  We ❤️ the Blue Room

For those lovers of chill-out music there is the Blue Room.  It’s worth mentioning that this is not a Blues Room.  It’s name derives from the blue lighting that at night gives this dance area a mellow atmosphere.  The music of choice in this room is more relaxed than the main room, and is perfectly suited to the smoother jive style of dancing and it’s cousin West Coast Swing.  You soon become aware that many of the people are dancing in the so called slot.

Readers of my Tea Dance articles, will know that I’ve tried really hard over the past six months, to dance in a more slotted style.

My sessions in The Blue Room were a chance to develop my dancing style a little further

In my next Warmwell article – The Spirit of Warmwell in 10 Dance Tracks – I’ll be returning to one particular dance in this area, but for now I want to say a few words about DJ Nick Stephens who provided the musical offering in the three late night sessions.  Nick has built himself quite a reputation on the chill-out and Blues circuit in the South West of England, and he is now a Warmwell favourite.

Spending some time in The Blue Room dancing to Nicks delicious mix of contemporary music you soon realise why.  I’ll be featuring two tracks from Nick in my Spirit of Warmwell article, but for now can I give a plug to one of his sublime spins from Saturday night Santuary by Markus Feehily.

The clock says it’s one in the morning and DJ Nick Stephens serves up another chill-out delicacy

7:  We ❤️ the variety in Busters

One of the gems of Warmwell is the third room known as Busters.  It offers an opportunity to play music not catered for by the Main Room or Blue Room.  It was in here on Saturday Night that I had one of the best sessions of dancing of the whole weekend, but more of that later.

I couldn’t help wonder why it was called Busters.  Here’s what Colin Shaul told me:

The room is a permanent memorial to my mate Buster, who sadly died of cancer in January 2012.  Buster was part of a large group of us who would travel around to freestyles and weekenders – a bit like your Dance Gang Paul.

He was the best of mates and gave me a lot of support when I needed it.  We had many great times together and he is still missed by a huge group of people.

We first used that room in 2010 and Buster was always in their loving the music.  I’m pleased to say that some of Buster’s old group have plans to book for 2019.

How good then that this room is now associated with music sets that get great feed back.  On Friday night DJ Gazza used Busters to play a set he called Old School Classics.  You can’t beat a session of your old favourites:

Loved reminiscing to my favourite tunes in the ‘Old School’ slots. Pam

Doreen meanwhile was loving the memories that DJ Rockin’ Ray served up with his Old School Jive set:

Ray played George Benson’s ‘Love Ballad’.  Transported me back in time.  Pure magic.

It was in Busters that John Dunlop did a master class in Blues DJing on Saturday night.  I’ve chosen one of John’s tracks for my The Spirit of Warmwell in 10 Dance Tracks, but in meantime here’s Mike with his own Tribute to John’s music:

As you know I’m a blues fan and my absolute highlight was John Dunlop’s sublime blues session on Saturday night.  I came out of there on a real high after dance after dance of beautiful connection with great dancer after great dancer.

My Buster’s highlight was Gazza’s Motown Classics.  It was a set that many people had some of their best dancing of the weekend.  My Dance Gang buddies Anne and Alan couldn’t wait to tell me how much they enjoyed their dancing to the Motown and Soul Dance Anthems.

Again I’ve picked one of Gazza’s tracks for my Spirit of Warmwell feature but I’ll leave you with another of his great tunes.  My man, a sweet man by Millie Jackson took me right back to the Nottingham Palais in the ’70s.  Priceless memories – thank you Gazza.

8: We ❤️ the Lessons

Of course what make Weekenders so very different to even the biggest freestyles are the lessons and Colin and his team had put together a quite exceptional programme run by some top teaching teams.  The programme offers people not only the opportunity to improve their dancing but to try something new, like Bachata, Tango or Salsa.

I’ve always tried to pace myself over a weekender so I do few lessons.  This time I stuck to two of Richard James’ four West Coast Swing Classes, as I’ve set off on a dance journey to learn this wonderful expressive way of dancing.  I’ll be writing a separate review about Richard’s lessons in the coming weeks.

I’ll be discussing the classes run by Lee and Dawn separately in item 13, so here are some thoughts from my fellow dancers about Paul & Wendy’s Salsa and Bachata classes.  These quotes sum up the important role that dance classes have in making Weekenders like Warmwell so memorable:

I gave the Salsa Class a go at last years Warmwell, but didn’t quite grasp it, so I tried again this year.  I loved it, the teacher explained the moves clearly, and it was great fun.  The thing that sticks in my mind the most is the move called The Susie Q, lol.  Julie

What I particularly loved about Warmwell was the Bachata class.  The standard of teaching was very good and it re-ignited my love for this particular dance and the desire to go back to my local Bachata class after a 6 year gap.  Lydia

I loved hearing that Paul and Wendy’s lesson had reignited Lydia’s love of this dance, and that she would be back at her Bachata class.  That just shows you how important weekenders like Warmwell are to the vitality of this wonderful dance scene.  Here’s one last glowing comment about Paul and Wendy’s classes that was posted on Facebook:

Just finished the Bachata class.  I must say the instructors who taught that and the Salsa are awesome. Two of my favourite dance styles.  Pat

I should perhaps mention Matt and Sarah’s Stay Connected class.  Troy had told me quite a few things that she loved about Warmwell, when she suddenly added this:

Oh, the Connection workshop with Matt & Sarah was fab too

Matt and Sarah’s class also got a mention in this amusing comment I found on Facebook:

Just finished the Modern Jive Stay Connected workshop.  Some nice moves there, as there were in Anthony and Kate’s ‘Simply Delightful’ class and Cliff and Amanda’s ‘Smooth Starters’ one.  Now all I need to do is remember the moves I learnt!! 😕😁😁

Really enjoyable.  Thank you teachers and the ladies who were put through the mill with me 😊  Matthew 

I just love the way that Matthew acknowledged that he had to try to remember the moves he’d been taught.  I think it’s the same for all of us.  I always think that a lesson is worthwhile if you can remember just one move.

Reading all the tributes to the teachers proves that Colin and Gazza are able to attract the very best teachers to Warmwell, and this in itself boosts the reputation of the event even further.

Lots of concentration in Richard’s West Coast Swing class

9:  We ❤️ the Dancing

I suspect that most of us love the dancing more than anything else, and let me tell you that the dancing was fab-u-lous (had to get my homage to Strictly’s Craig Revel Horwood in somewhere).

I’ve always thought that great dancing needs three things:

First, great music.  I’ve already made plenty of references to the wonderful music served up by the line up of top DJs.

Secondly it needs a special kind of vibe out on the dance floor.  In the next item I’ll explore more about the lovely vibe that underpins Warmwell and it was evident across all the three rooms of dancing.

You see this vibe in the faces of the people as they lose themselves in their dancing.  My Dance Gang friend Tel was given permission to take photo’s and videos across the weekend.  I’ve had a sneak preview of his pictures and what hits you is the smiling faces in every shot (see link below).  Tel is currently editing the pictures and will be posting them on the MJRoc Warmwell Facebook Page in the coming weeks.

But a dance needs one other thing if it is to be considered worthy of a fabulous rating, and that it a comfortable connection with your partner.  It’s a connection that starts with a request to dance and it’s acceptance.

When you travel around like myself, you occasionally find yourself at venues where you know no one.  The asking for a dance thing, or waiting to be asked to dance can then cause a little anxiety.  That’s when you notice just how friendly a venue is.

Remember my Dance Gang friends had travelled, like many people, a long way from their home patch and recognised very few faces on the first evening.  Warmwell proved very friendly and all my Dance Gang friends acknowledged this when sat down each night at our after- parties.

This meant we could all relax and enjoy our dancing and Tel’s photos captured the joy on our faces time and time again.

There is one other wonderful aspect of Warmwell’s dancing that should be mentioned.  The programme of DJs and their music catered for all styles of dancing.

I’ve already mentioned the Main Room music and the smooth chill-out dancing in the Blue Room, but space was also found on the timetable for music suitable for West Coast Swing, Rock ‘n’ Roll, Tango, Blues and Salsa.  This weekend really was a dance fest for everyone to enjoy.

Plenty of smiles during another cracking Motown track in Busters

10:  We ❤️ the happy buzz

It’s not long before you sense that this is a lovely vibe around Warmwell.   There is no doubt that everyone is very friendly and this meant a lot to myself and my friends from Nottingham as we knew virtually no one on arrival.  But there was something else that I couldn’t initially put my finger on.  Then I found myself chatting with Troy, who was enjoying her second Warmwell adventure:

I always thoroughly enjoy the happy buzz that everyone brings with them.

That was it – The Happy Buzz, and as I trawled through Facebook posting I saw examples of it time and time again.  Here’s one of my favourite images of the whole weekend, and it perfectly represents Troy’s notion of the ‘Happy Buzz’.

It was posted by Sonya, and it shows her and her friend Miriam, in their lodge, as they got in to their ‘Double Vodka’ costume for the fancy dress night on Sunday.  Two comments were posted underneath and it explains The Warmwell Happy Buzz spot on:

You guys proper cracked me up!  So funny. X  Jayne

We will be funnier next year…. Sonya

I suspect they will, and seeing them prancing round the dance floor during the fancy dress competition, they will have inspired a lot of people to go even crazier next year.  That’s all part of the wonderful Warmwell vibe.  I get it now.

11:  We ❤️ improving our dancing

What impresses me about so many people is the way they are constantly wanting to improve their floor craft, and weekenders like Warmwell give them so many opportunities.  I’ve already mentioned the lessons but let’s not forget the opportunities that the freestyle dance sessions offer.

I’m not one for lessons, and do very few.  The reason is that I find it difficult to remember the moves and techniques I’ve been taught.  Even in a regular class night Intermediate lesson, I find I can never remember the three moves, and so the sixty minute weekender workshops give my dance brain an overload problem.

What I tend to do is take one move, or even just part of a move and practice it out on the floor.  That way I don’t keep going wrong or bring the whole dance to a crashing stop in a tangle of arms.

When we do go wrong we instinctively say ‘sorry’ and carry on – our partners are usually very kind to us.  And this is where Warmwell scores highly.  Above I mentioned the friendly vibe and that encourages us to give things a go.

I’ll illustrate this point by talking about my attempt to try a few things I’d learnt in Richard James’ West Coast Swing classes.  I should explain that I’m only just starting out on my West Coast journey and I’ll be writing a more detailed article about my Warmwell West Coast Swing experience in the coming weeks.  For now let me mention two incidents that made a lasting impression on me.

On Sunday afternoon there was a freestyle in The Blue Room where DJs Nick Stephens and Kane Jenner served up some delicious tracks perfectly suited to West Coast.

I recognised a lady from my class earlier in the day and duly asked her to dance.  She turned out to be quite an experienced West Coast dancer, but she showed some real patience as the dance continually broke down as I lost the beat.

The thing is, there’s no point doing the lesson if you don’t practice, and this lady allowed me to do just that, even though I struggled.  I’m sure there were other people trying things out, and it seemed everyone wanted to offer encouragement.

One other thing made a lasting impression.  I’d noticed across the weekend that the teachers themselves were all out on the dance floor giving help and encouragement.

During Nick and Kane’s set I spotted West Coast Swing teacher Richard out on the floor.  He duly asked Jo and Mel, two of my Dance Gang friends, to dance.  Both had done all his lessons, and they were full of praise in how he now led them across the floor and more importantly gave them a real sense of just how wonderful West Coast is as a style of dance.

I sadly was struggling with my West Coast Swing, and after a while decided to dance to Nick and Kane’s music in a smooth jive style instead.  I then spotted Ruthie, Richard’s West Coast demo.  I explained that I’d given it a go and had my confidence knocked back somewhat.  As the next track started up Ruthie invited me to dance with her in the West Coast style.

Ruthie did what all great teachers do.  She somehow made me feel that I could do it and gave my confidence a boost.

People do want to improve their dancing and having the teachers like Richard and Ruthie out on the floor was a big tick for Warmwell.

A chance to practice your new moves during DJ Kevin Hyde’s Sunday afternoon chill-out set

12:  We ❤️ the Weekender Traditions

I think any group of friends, who attends weekenders on a regular basis together, build up some traditional activities.  My own Dance Gang friends will always have a late night after-party where we discuss our adventurers on the dance floor.  One of our traditions is that John always brings along a delicious speciality cheese that we devour with Prosecco.

I’m sure that every group at Warmwell has its own little rituals, and of course lodge parties and dressing up for the fancy dress competition will generate many traditions.

I’ve got to know about a tradition that is quite unique to Warmwell.  It’s the see How many people can get in to a double bed challenge.  This year Kevin and his friends had a girl v boys competition.  It seems the girls won 15 to 11.   I just loved seeing the photos that were posted on Facebook.  So can anyone beat the girls next year?

Interestingly Kevin tells me that Warmwell holds another tradition.  His wife Alison’s birthday always falls on or around the Warmwell weekend, so they take the opportunity to have a party for her in their lodge.  The bed competition took place at this party.

I don’t think the boys really stood a chance even with a sheep in their team

13:  We ❤️ Lee’s sense of fun

One of the stars of Warmwell Weekenders is teacher Lee Perrott.  Ably assisted by his wife Dawn, Lee creates a wave of hilarity with what ever he is teaching.  This weekend he was put in charge of four classes – now that was asking for the needle on the fun monitor to hit the red zone.  Needless to say he used all four lessons to create a sense of well-being that seems to underpin this whole weekender.

His first outing was a Saturday morning Zumba class.  It was described in the programme as Another crazy dose of Latin Party.  I understand that’s exactly what he delivered.  Second up was an afternoon Double Trouble class, where Mel joined Dawn as his partners.  A double dose of trouble was always on the cards and Lee lived up to the billing.

Just finished double trouble with lee, dawn and Mel, brilliant and such a laugh! Thank you!😂😂😂👌  Gail

His followers then had a chance to catch their breathe before he burst in to action again on Sunday with his mid-day Pool Party.  If that wasn’t enough hilarity there was still an opportunity for more fun learning a funky Line Dance.  Not surprising his classes featured in quite a few people highlights.  Here’s Lydia and Cilla talking about the Pool Party:

A highlight for me was the Pool Party which was totally crazy with lots of fun and laughter.  Lee and Dawn always create a fun and enjoyable atmosphere in their lessons.  This was my second Pool Party at Warmwell and it didn’t disappoint.  Lydia

Special thanks to Lee and Dawn who kindly allowed my ‘special’ friend to join in the completely bonkers pool party!  Cilla

Pam was another who picked one of Lee’s lesson as her Warmwell highlight:

For me, my highlight was laughing with Tracy and Christine in Lee’s Line Dancing lesson.  Pam

A great sense of fun seems to underpin Warmwell.  Of course Lee isn’t he only teacher to generate such merriment, but you can see why Colin books him year after year.

It might not be YMCA but I’m told it was great fun

14:  We ❤️ taking a break

It’s easy to get danced out at a weekender like Warmwell, when there are so many lessons and freestyles on offer, so it’s nice to just give yourself a break away from the holiday park.  Warmwell is not far from a glorious part of the Dorset coast that stretches from Weymouth to Lulworth Cove.  My Dance Gang friend John was one of many who gave themselves a break by exploring this part of Dorset.

Another popular way of taking a break was to visit one of the many traditional pubs in the area.

My own Dance Gang met up for a sit down meal at The Frampton Arms, by the railway station, on both the Saturday and Sunday nights.   Another popular destination is The Smugglers Inn by the coast at Osmington.  No need to do the washing up!

But you didn’t need to take the car to take a break.  You could just go for a stroll round the beautiful Warmwell woodland setting.  It seems many people did this and came across the many deer that populate the park.  Photos of the deer feature prominently in the postings on the Warmwell Facebook Page.

We would pass this beautiful lake on our way to the Main Hall

15:  We ❤️ The Dance Competition

Perhaps I should have titled this item ‘Some of us love taking part in the dance competition’ or maybe ‘Lots of us love to watch the competition!  Having spoken to several of the participants I might even have entitled it ‘What have I got myself in to!?

Back in September I entered a ‘Lucky Dip’ or ‘Dance with a Stranger’ competition at the Ceroc Southport Weekender.  As a blogger I thought I should at least enter so I could write about the experience.

It was a little scary, and so when it was suggested I enter the Warmwell one I did hesitate somewhat.  However it seemed there was a shortage of men so I signed up.

The way it worked was that all the men lined up on one side of the floor and all the ladies on the opposite side.  Each side then walked towards each other and so we got a partner. While I knew this wouldn’t be the final pairing my partner showed just a little anxiety.  You see you just don’t want to let your partner down.

The men were then moved on and we found ourselves with another partner.  Again I could sense a shared anxiety.  It seemed that everybody was asking the same question.  ‘How long have you been dancing’.  I suppose it gave a clue to their partners ability.  Hopefully you got some one who had been dancing about the same time as yourself.

God forbid you got a very experienced dancer, when you had only been dancing for six months.

Of course people are very friendly, and no one takes it too seriously.  Its a bit of a laugh, but it’s only human not to want to let your partner down.  We were moved on again and I was placed with my final partner.

I got very lucky.  Gaynor, who had also been volunteered by her friends, had been dancing longer than myself and when we did our practice dance it was obvious that she was a fabulous dancer.

I’ll just say that myself and Gaynor, and I think everyone else, had a blast.  There were two heats of ten couples and we got a chance to impress the judges with a fast and slow track.  Our years of experienced definitely helped and we managed to make the final.  What was nice was that both my and Gaynor’s friends got to cheer us on and I think we did them proud.

Myself and Gaynor having a blast in the final

16:  We ❤️ spending time with friends old and new

Life at times can be very busy and we have little time for ourselves, let alone our friends.  So a three day event like Warmwell gives everyone a chance to chill out a little, and that means having time to catch up with friends and even make new ones.

As I talked to people about what they loved about Warmwell so many mentioned the opportunity it gave them to socialise in a warm and friendly environment.

Jo, a member of my Dance Gang spoke affectionately about the special time with her friends.  Mike was another who relished the time to chat with friends.  Here’s his take on socialising that is very similar to my own:

I am usually so engrossed in dancing, to as many tracks as possible, that chatting with my fellow dancers is not something I usually get a chance to do.

There is no doubt that everyone loves the fact that they have chance to spend quality time with their friends.  You’ll remember DJ Sue Astle who first put me on to Warmwell last year.  Sue told me this about her own Warmwell experience and its a story that will resonate with a lot of people:

The most enjoyable thing for me about Warmwell is spending precious time with friends.  The friends in our lodge are much more than dance friends.  They are close friends who make the pilgrimage year after year – Linda, Varley, David, Stewart and this year our lovely Warmwell Virgin Alex.

I loved hearing about how Sue and her friends looked after first-timer Alex.  Here’s Sue talking about how they all spent Saturday afternoon:

Stewart cooked Christmas dinner.  We bought a Christmas tree and put fairy lights up all around our lodge.  It created an amazing feel.

Sue also found time to catch up with other friends:

I also love that you get a chance to meet up with other people, that you have met over the previous years.  We have a dance and a few drinks together.

I met up with Sue in the bar area adjacent to The Blue Room and we enjoyed sharing our dance stories over a drink.  Sue also told me how every year she manages to make new friends, and I experienced this for myself too.  I don’t doubt that the friendliness of Warmwell means that everyone makes new and lasting friends.

My Dance Gang friends found time to catch up with each other at The Frampton Arms

17:  We ❤️ the Fancy Dress

There is no doubt that what sets Warmwell aside from all the other dance weekenders is the Fancy Dress Party on Sunday night.  There is an ever increasing number of people who turn out in fancy dress at other weekenders, but they have some way to go until they catch up with Warmwell.  Here’s a comment posted on Facebook that tells the story of what is an amazing night of fun and hilarity:

The fancy dress party on the Sunday evening was an absolute blast, everyone enjoyed it and I was amazed by the amount of people who took part, the atmosphere was electric  Julie

It’s the sheer number of people who took part, and the creativity of their costumes.  The image that I used at the the top of the article shows some quite amazing costumes including that of Colin’s own.  And who could forget the girls in their Double Vodka costumes.

Colin will be publishing lots of pictures of the amazing costumes in the near future, but I’ve chosen to feature one of the first to be posted on Facebook.  The smiles on the ladies’ faces says it all:

We are part of this wonderful crazy night and we are lovin’ every minute of it

It’s the fact that so many people wanted to be part of this crazy night, that gave the Sunday night the most amazing vibe.  As Julie said ‘The atmosphere was electric’ and I am so pleased that I was able to experience the joy along with everyone else.  Colin suggested that this was the best fancy dress turn out ever.  I wouldn’t know about that, but I suspect he’s right.

18:  We ❤️ the Legendary Last Hour

When I was doing last years review – the one I wrote without attending – I couldn’t quite get a grip on just how the climax to Sunday night worked.  I remember Colin telling me it was legendary, and now I’ve experienced it for real, I can tell you that it is.

So legendary in fact, that if you haven’t experienced it already, then it’s a reason to get a ticket for next year and feel the vibe of exhilaration and joy for yourself

In his set finale DJ Colin plays some classic party anthems including YMCA, Always look on the bright side of life, and the mash up of Bonnie Wee Jeanie McColl and Ye canne shove yer granny off the bus.  Epic fun!

After the main room closes down the action switches to The Blue Room, where DJ Gazza rips up the floor with a full-on club vibe culminating with two hundred people, who should know better, Pogo dancing to ‘Jump around’ by House of Pain.

Tel’s hoping to eventually produce a video of the party atmosphere Gazza generated with this track.  In the meantime here’s a video of the last action in the Main Room, skilfully compared by Colin himself.

The video is quite long, so if you watch just one section fast forward to 1:00 and watch everyone doing the arm actions to the chorus of YMCA.  Oh, and see if you can spot Michael Jackson as The Proclaimers 500 Miles fades out.

The video was filmed and produced by Peter Philips

19:  We ❤️ showing our appreciation for The MJRoc Team

Organising such a sell-out weekender takes a lot of organising before hand and a lot of attention to detail over the three days themselves.  It goes without saying that Colin, Gazza and the whole MJRoc team did an amazing job.  So it was really pleasing to see people take to Facebook to thank all of them for making the weekend something very special.

I’ve picked out four comments of the many on the MJRoc Warmwell Weekenders Facebook Page,  The first is from Shirley:

Here are three more.  The choice of words tells you so much about this fabulous weekender:

Thank you all for another awesome Warmwell Weekender!  Lovely lodge mates, great classes, top DJs and brilliant dances!  Julie

Back at work TIRED 😴😴😴 and dreaming of the fun I had at Warmwell. ..Did I REALLY dance all those workshops and all night long with so many lovely ladies?!  Can’t we have Warmwell every day of the year?!  Matthew

Just finished my first weekend at Warmwell.  It was fabulous, and friendly.  Thank you Colin Shaul and your crew for all of it !!! Julie
What I also loved was that DJ Billy Cullen spoke to me about his own appreciation of the Warmwell Crew:

I really enjoy working with Colin, Gazza and their friendly and welcoming staff.  It’s a real pleasure to work with such dedicated and professional people.  Billy Cullen

All my Nottingham Dance gang friends said just how smoothly everything went and would like to express their appreciation of not just the MJRoc Crew, but also the Parkdean Resorts team working on reception and in the restaurant and bar.

The Warmwell Crew take a well earned break as Gazza brings the weekend to a close.  L to R Stevie, Jack, Tracy, Antonio, Sue, Nicky, Christine, Terry, Amanda, Kevin, and Sue

20:  We ❤️ that we can do it all again next year

There was one other comment that is worth noting.  The last sentence says it all:

Had a fantastic time at Warmwell.  Thank you to Colin Shaul and all the crew.  See you again next year.  Gill

That’s the thing.  It might be another twelve months away, but November 2019 will eventually come round again, and everyone will have the chance to do it all again.  From the show of hands at the Greeting Party it was obvious that there were a lot of Warmwell first-timers, but the majority of people had been many times before, and some it seems have been to every one.

I know that Ladies Only tickets sell out very quickly, so please if you are thinking of having a ladies lodge please don’t hang about – General booking is open from 10th December.

This was thought by many to be the best Warmwell ever and people were buying up lodges for next year on Sunday Afternoon!  I can understand why, and it won’t belong until I’ll be organising gender balanced lodges for the Nottingham Dance Gang for next year.

So until then at least we have the memories to keep us going.  See you next year.  How more sleeps is it?

My thanks to all the contributors

I’d like to thank all the people who took time to tell me about the things that they love about Warmwell, and particularly those who gave permission to use their photos.  A special thanks to Colin Shaul for answering all my questions, when all he wanted was to try too catch up on his sleep.  Thanks to to my Nottingham Dance Gang friends for allowing me to make them an important part of my story

I’ve probably spent more time writing about this weekend, than actually dancing at it, but it’s been a pleasure working on all the material that I was so kindly given.  So thank you all again

My next article will be The Spirit of Warmwell in 10 Dance Tracks where I hope to add more insight in to what makes this weekender so special

Related articles

Tel Jenkins’ fabulous Warmwell 2018 photo album 

Review of Warmwell 2017