Jiving the Blues

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I received an e-mail from Ceroc London advertising their first evening of a ‘Blues Weekender’ at Chiswick Town Hall.  They were going to do a class called ‘Jiving the Blues’.

As some of you may already know, my passion is dancing Argentine Tango, but every once in a while I need to get out and shake my booty, as you don’t really shake anything in Tango.  I was torn.  A new Milonga was opening in Vauxhall last night and I kind of wanted to go to that to see what it was like.  The thing is, I also had a class scheduled this morning at the local adult college and didn’t want a really late night out.  What to do?

I mentally flipped a coin and decided on the closest option.  Tango will still be there on Fridays, but Ceroc at Chiswick Town Hall isn’t a weekly event and is only a ten minute drive away.  Also, the percentage ratio of me actually having fun is higher dancing Ceroc than with dancing Tango these days.  Sad, but true.

I managed to arrive at 8.05pm and was interested to note that the class hadn’t started, even though the e-mail stated that it would start at 8pm sharp.  (In fact, it didn’t start until around 8:30.)  I was pleasantly surprised to see one of my male Tango friends there.  I don’t usually dance Tango with A, but I have enjoyed a few Salsas with him and some nice conversation.  It turns out that he wanted to get back into Swing and thought he would give it a go.

There were a fair amount of people sitting around waiting for the class to start and a few of us even got up to dance while we were waiting.  I had an interesting conversation with a lady who was a bit concerned about the dancing close aspect to blues music.  She liked normal Ceroc as it meant you didn’t have to dance very closely and she was wondering if she did the right thing by booking the workshops for this weekend.  I suggested that before accepting any dances that she watches the dance floor to see how the men are dancing and to only accept or ask for dances with men whose style she likes.  She reminded me about the ‘say yes to every dance’ policy that Ceroc has.  I gave her a few good excuses to get around that, reminded her that she was a grown woman and could do whatever she wanted, and told her she could always use the ‘I can’t dance too close because of my culture’ card.   She loved that one!  The rest of our conversation continued in the vein of hygiene issues, another reason that she doesn’t like to dance too close – this seems to be a universal problem regardless of the dance form.

Eventually they announced the start of the class and you could hear the sigh of relief, or panic, depending on the amount of beginners. I came away from the lesson not much better off than when I started as most of the men just didn’t get it – not much difference with Tango in that department.  Afterwards, I went into the other room to listen to the music in there.  The beat was considerably slower and since I wasn’t in the mood for smoochy romantic music, I stayed in the main hall where they played mainly blues, jive and rock and roll.  It was more upbeat and I wanted to move my body.  My friend A spent most of his time in the ‘other’ room and I saw that he was enjoying himself when I popped in a few times to check and see if the pace of the music had changed.

I had a shaky start as the first three men I danced with danced to completely different music from what was actually being played.  I nearly became despondent as the songs were really good and I couldn’t for the life of me manage to get into the groove due to the ineptitude of my leaders. There goes so much for saying yes to anyone who asks and I was wondering if I hadn’t made the wrong choice for the evening.  I nearly cried with relief with dancer number four, who in his simplicity and musicality redeemed the antics of his predecessors.  It was all systems go after that.  I refused a few dances, or just sat them out and avoided eye contact or I just wandered around.  As it was, I danced with who I wanted and wasn’t disappointed.  It may not be Ceroc etiquette, but at least I enjoyed myself.

I found my friend A had come back into the main hall and I grabbed him for a dance when a jive came on.  It was a great dance and he had such fun that he grabbed a few other ladies for some lively dances as the music had picked up a bit.  I also had some surprisingly good dances from two of the most unusual looking men I have ever encountered.  I noticed a few women looking at me in complete wonderment as I was so obviously having a really good time with these guys.   Scrutinising the men had really paid off and I found a couple of hidden gems.

Before I knew it, it was time for me to go home.  I was tempted to stay longer but knew that I would be useless the next day for my class if I did.  I went to find A to say goodbye and found him in an embrace to a slow number and with a happy look on his face.  I knew just how he felt.

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