For details of the Tea Dance image see the acknowledgement below
I start my tour of Sunday Tea Dances
A few weeks back I posted an article about the growing popularity of Tea Dances (see link below). The readership and response was quite overwhelming, particularly as more organisations got in touch to ask me to mention their own venues. I then wrote a follow up article I entitled More Tea Dances than I realised which got an even bigger response (also see link below).
I’ve now decided to follow up both articles, by visiting some of these venues over the next few months just to see for myself the many different ways that Tea Dances are organised and run. I’ve also decided to celebrate the place of cake in these functions by adding a new category to my annual Top 5 Lists – Best Home-made Cakes.
What’s so different about Sunday Dancing?
In my two articles I got a sense that Sunday Tea Dances were a lot different to Friday and Saturday night freestyles and in these reviews I’ll be trying to put my finger on it. So don’t expect reviews about DJs setting the floor on fire or details of full-on dances.
This will be more about the relaxed nature of Sunday dancing. I’ll be focusing on chilled music more than on hi-energy tracks that rock the floor. In researching my two articles I spotted that many tea dances start with lessons or workshops that teach the more smoother styles of dancing like Modern Blues, SILC and Smooth Jive.
In these Tea Dance reviews I’ll be looking to comment on aspects of this wonderful dance community that normally pass me by in the more frantic late night Friday and Saturday freestyles. Not surprisingly I found one such story in my very first Tea Dance at Ceroc Surrey’s Byfleet Village Hall venue, but more of that later.
Byfleet has a very vibrant class night
Byfleet Village Hall is the venue for a very vibrant class night run by teacher Jaqui Barrett, which I ‘ve had the pleasure of visiting many times (see link to review below). Come Sunday Ceroc Surrey run a more relaxed Tea Dance that also attracts people from other local class nights.
I’d put this venue down on my list, because even on Thursday nights in between some fabulous dancing, time is made for tea and cakes. Byfleet Village Hall is a small scale venue that fits perfectly the image of a relaxed Tea Dance, and the provision of some delicious home-made cakes on this Sunday afternoon set a lovely tone too.
Kevin serves up plenty of chilled music
Many Sunday dances are based around chilled music, but not everybody is comfortable dancing to slower music, so I was pleased that when DJ Kevin Hill explained his music policy for Byfleet he always included a mix of tempos. So it was on this Sunday.
Because of my new found interest in becoming a better dancer to slower music, I’ll be focusing more on the chill-out sounds that I hear as I travel around. I was really pleased that Kevin included some wonderful contemporary slower music in his playlist of regular favourites.
These included a chill-out track that’s proving very popular – Nick Lopez’s Pink Champagne, but here’s my favourite from Sunday afternoon. It’s Manuel Costa’s 2017 tropical house version of The Backstreet Boys I want it that way.
I want to practice my slotted SILC style dance technique
Regular readers of my blog will know that I’ve long wanted to dance to slower music, and that has meant learning to dance in a smoother slotted style, rather than in my old school Rotational style.
I’ve tried really hard over the past few months to get to grips with this more modern style of dancing, and have been helped by two particularly good workshops.
The first was a Smooth Moves workshop run by Joe Collins at Ceroc Beds & Bucks own Te Amo Tea Dance, and the second was my participation in two SILC classes run by Steve Thomas at Ceroc Perth’s Fresh Weekender.
I appreciated the friendly vibe
Ever since these workshops I’ve loved every opportunity to try out what I’ve learnt. Trouble is that I’m not confident to just ask anyone to dance in this smoother style, least I get it all a bit wrong. Back home in my Nottingham base, I know the ladies who will allow me to try out new things, and be forgiving when it goes a little wrong.
It’s not the same when I’m on the road and I don’t really know anyone. So I was really pleased that this Tea Dance had a very relaxed and friendly vibe, and I felt comfortable to ask the ladies to dance to Kevin’s slower tracks.
I had some wonderful dances, and I hope Michaella, who put the playlist together with Kevin, won’t mind me mentioning the dance we had. At the end as I thanked Michaella for our dance, I couldn’t help but make a little speech.
That was a bit of a land mark for me, Michaella. You see we did the whole dance on the slot, and that was probably the best I’ve ever danced in that smooth slotted way. So, thank you.
As we all strive to be better dancers our progress is made up of small steps, until one day we realise we’ve actually made some real progress. The other thing to remember is that those small steps are often made with the help of more experienced dancers like Michaella.
It’s surprising how much we owe to the people who join us out on the floor, so thanks to all the dancers like Michaella who have helped with my progress so far.
A lovely Tea Dance tale
After a time I noticed that an elderly lady was sitting out. I went over and asked her to dance. It wasn’t long until we were chatting rather than dancing. It turned out that the lady in question, Marion, had come along at the bequest of her Granddaughter Rozel.
Marion told me that during her own dancing days she had achieved a very high standard of ballroom dancing, so she was particularly pleased to hear that her granddaughter had taken up partner dancing:
I know it’s not ballroom, but I’m very impressed none the less. It’s so nice to see young people dancing properly with a partner.
Marion went on to tell me how proud she was to see just how good her granddaughter was:
It’s been so lovely to see Rozel actually dancing. She has such lovely movement and her body moves properly with the rhythm.
Here’s Rozel on what her Grandma had to say:
I think she overestimated my ability, but apparently has told anyone who listens, that I get it all from her and her mother, as none of the men in the family could dance!
I sat with Marion for a while as we watched her granddaughter and other people gracefully moving across the floor. I know that Ceroc is not ballroom, but I think we should hold our heads high that we dance to a standard that impresses someone as qualified in ballroom as Marion.
It was nice to meet you Marion. Pity you weren’t able to take to the floor, but how nice that there was some afternoon dancing that your granddaughter could bring you along to.
Sunday dancing makes the weekend
You can understand that late night dancing is never going to work on a Sunday night when most people have to be up early on Monday morning, but afternoon dancing fills a gap for many people. Here’s Philippa, who hardly sat down all afternoon:
It’s made my Sunday. It’s just wonderful to be able to come out and dance in the afternoon
I suspect that Philippa is also a regular at Friday and Saturday night freestyles, but I can’t help wondering if I’ll meet people, as I tour around the Tea Dances on my list, who actually prefer the more relaxed Sunday afternoon dancing to the full-on main room freestyles.
This wasn’t just chill-out tracks
This is the third time I’ve danced to Kevin Hill’s music and every time I’ve been impressed. Kevin gets the mix just right. Even though I’ll only be featuring the more chill-out tracks in my Tea Dance reviews, Kevin did mix it up with faster paced tracks.
There was Lipps Inc’s ’70s Disco anthem Funkytown, and from the current day, George Ezra’s new full-on Paradise. Kevin also gave a spin to the Motown reworking that everyone’s playing – Freischwimmer’s Ain´t No Mountain High Enough.
There was music from different genres. Shakira’s wonderful Latin track Ciega, sordomuda, and Queen’s Crazy little thing called love to really up the tempo. There was some original Motown represented by Marvin Gaye’s classic I heard it through the grapevine, and Michaela even slipped in one of her Northern Soul favourites I’m on my way by Dean Parrish.
Kevin musical choices put a smile on everyone’s faces
Kevin’s musical choices certainly put a smile on peoples faces. My pal Tel Jenkin’s was on hand to photograph the action from Sunday, and I’ve put a link to the full album at the bottom of the review. I’ve picked out this picture from Tel’s album as I think it really captures the joy of dancing on a Sunday afternoon.
More chill-out tracks
Some Tea Dances are advertised as real chill-out sessions, but this wasn’t one of them, so it was important that the music wasn’t too slow. Kevin played some tracks that were pitched in the middle – slow enough if you wanted to dance in a smooth way, but with enough tempo to give everyone the chance of a lovely dance.
Real Love by Drizabone, from Kevin’s playlist, is a perfect example of this, and no wonder it’s a Ceroc and Modern Jive favourite. Another track along these lines is the Lighthouse Family’s ’90s remake of Ain’t no sunshine, but the track I’ll feature is another ’90s track, that Kevin spun, with an equally easy rhythm.
Janet Jackson’s Together again is the kind of track that is so easy to dance to. I’m sure that everyone appreciates tracks like this from time to time. Something with an easy going melody, nothing too difficult. A chance for the guys to keep it simple, and give the ladies an easy time following their signals – perfect for a Sunday afternoon, yes?
The Tea Dance Tour rolls on to Northchurch
The Tea Dance tour was off to a good start. A laid back afternoon of dancing with the added bonus of a personal best – anyone would think I was in the Olympics, but dancing a whole dance in the slot with someone I didn’t really know was for me some achievement. Thanks again Michaella.
Oh and more thing – the lemon cake was gorgeous. I only had one piece, but I did smuggle a second piece out for later.
The tour now rolls on to Northchurch with Ceroc Beds & Bucks. Watch this space.
More Tea Dances than I realised
Get the Tea Dance Jigsaw
The image at the top of this posting is by artist Jason Juta, and was used for a 1000 piece Falcon de luxe Jigsaw entitled Tea Dance. The jigsaw is available on line. Here’s a link to one of the many sites that sell this popular jigsaw.