So, rather excitingly, my husband and I have taken up jive dance lessons! I did learn how to jive a few years ago, but went with a female friend and I ended up learning the male steps. I did the eight week beginners class and then the eight week intermediate course too. As with everything, without keeping up to it, I’ve long since forgotten most of the moves. I taught my husband the basic footwork and when we’ve been to dances/ vintage evenings, we’ve had a bit of a shuffle about the dance floor. But that’s about it.
We both wanted to do something together, have a hobby that involved the two of us spending more time together. We both wanted to get a bit more exercise and we both wanted to learn to dance properly- have that skill that would provide regular enjoyment for us.
We went to an event recently to watch a local vintage songstress, Kitty La Mare. When we got there I realised it had been organised by my old dance teachers, Sue and Nigel. Their classes had grown since I did my original courses and they had found a new venue with a bigger dance floor. On another night out, I bumped into Sue and Nigel again, I had a little chat and picked up one of the flyers for their classes. Myself, my husband and my good friend, Julie, all decided we were going to give it a bash!
Sue and Nigel do classes in Halifax and Sandbeds once a week. We attend the beginners class in Sandbeds for an hour, which is directly followed by the intermediate class and then a bit of social dancing afterwards too.
That first week, the class was heaving! So popular! All sorts of people, spanning a wide age range. You don’t need to have a partner either- lots of people come on their own and partner up at the class- and if there’s an odd number of people attending, Sue and Nigel are always available to dance with. Even though the joint was packed, it didn’t deter from the enjoyment or the learning process. Sue wears a headset and microphone so everyone can hear her and every step is broken down and explained.
Sue and Nigel are really lovely and make the evening fun, everything is light hearted with the emphasis being on enjoying yourself. They do a little demonstration, then the steps again in slow motion, then they break it down into bite size chunks. We all take to the dance floor and walk through it while Sue shouts out the steps. We do that several times, then we practice to music. The first week was a general overview, learning the footwork and our first move. Then each week we review and practice and then we are given a new move to learn. Building our repertoire as we go. The lesson layout is really good as it’s surprising how much you forget in a week! Lol! Also, if you happen to miss a lesson for whatever reason, all the moves are recapped, so you don’t fall behind.
As well as learning the jive steps, we are also taught some strolls. These are good for when you attend dances and don’t have a partner- you don’t need to wait to be asked, you can do a stroll and dance by yourself- you’ll be surprised how many people get up and form a line to join you! At the classes, we tend to do strolls to warm up and cool down- the start and end of the lesson.
People attend the class courses several times, sometimes continuing through and always repeating as the classes themselves become a social event and give even the most experienced a dancer a reason to dance each week. I think my husband and I will probably do the beginners course again when it starts over in January and then move on to the intermediate and repeat than indefinitely. The classes are great for meeting new people and finding out about local dances and events coming up- Sue does an announcement section while we have our mid-lesson break, so you get to find out about things and widen your social circle. It’s like a little community.
I wanted to get a bit of background on the lessons and asked Sue and Nigel to share a little bit about how they got in to dancing and why they decided to start doing the lessons for other people….
Sue (the founder of Jive Class) for many years performed in local amateur dramatic societies but sadly, a throat problem prevented her from singing so she decided to try her hand (or foot) at dancing, trying several forms of dance until she hit upon 1940s/50’s jive and knew this was the dance for her. After just a few years of finding enjoyment in dancing, she decided to pass on the thrill of dance and start teaching it to others.
Nigel arrived on the jive scene in 2009 as a raw novice (convinced he had two left feet) and took his first steps towards a dancing future. In 2012 he became Sue’s dance teaching partner when a new class was opened in Bingley, which soon moved to its present location at the Octagonlive in Sandbeds.
After all their years of teaching they get great satisfaction in proving the sceptics (mainly men) that they can dance! Watching how their students progress through the 8 week beginners course and emerge as dancers gives them a huge ‘buzz’ of both enjoyment and achievement.
The real big plus though is Sue and Nigel along with many of their dance class students have formed lasting new friendships and regularly see each other at the various social functions held every month.
I love going to my dance classes with my husband- that time spent together, doing something fun and learning something new. It’s nice to have this experience, this ‘thing’ that involves us both working as a little team. Having this time just for ourselves. ‘Togetherness’ is definitely a key word I would use to describe our reason for doing these classes.
On a wider spectrum, the exercise alone is a valid reason for partaking in jive. You’re up on your feet and moving around, so it’s doing us good physically. The mental benefits of letting off steam, having a laugh, socialising with friends and remembering steps and moves are not to be dismissed either. Whether you’ve naturally got dancing feet or if it takes a lot of thought and concentration, the enjoyment and benefits make ‘having a go’ worthwhile.
If you want to learn 1940’/50’s style jive and fancy coming to the lessons at either Sandbeds or Halifax and become part of a great social scene, give Sue a ring or text on 07771 863283 or visit the Jive Class website at www.jiveclass.co.uk
Would highly recommend ♥
With much love,
Miss Kimmy Cupcake xx
*Black and white images from Google Image Search