IF someone had said to me that within two months of starting work at the Herald and Gazette I would be jiving with a 91-year-old man to the tune of Lady Gaga, I would have laughed.
But that is exactly what I did when I was challenged to take part in a session at Danceaholics, a modern jive dance society for all abilities and ages held at the Shoreham Centre in Pond Road every Wednesday.
I thought, perhaps, I had been let off lightly as far as my challenge was concerned – I have been attending ballet and jazz dance classes since I was four – but I couldn’t help but be nervous when Danceaholics co-founder Ian Partington told me that by the end of the night I would be performing a two-minute freestyle jive in front of the entire class.
With a pair of dance shoes in hand, I turned up at the Shoreham Centre to find the hall decked out with disco lighting and a PA system, as well as seating and refreshments. Although there was a slightly nostalgic vibe of a school disco to the hall, there was none of the teenage awkwardness as around 50 members of all ages chatted amongst themselves.
As the class started, pairs lined up in the hall and Ian and his dance partner Diana started to teach moves from the stage.
Even though the class was for beginners, I found my dance knowledge completely irrelevant. Not only did I have to allow my partner to lead me into doing the right thing, I also had to get used to having no idea what move was coming next.
After half an hour, the tuition ended and dancers indulged in 30 minutes of freestyle, where I was asked to dance by a number of gentlemen to practise my newly-acquired moves.
It was in this freestyle session that I had the pleasure of dancing with Don Fathers, a 91-year-old danceaholic who has been coming to the club for 15 years. Don defied any preconceptions one might have for a man of his age – he was agile, had great rhythm and was one of the best partners I had all night.
I immediately understood why this class is so popular. Jive is addictive and extremely social – I was later told two of the members who met at Danceaholics recently got married.
After the freestyle session I was given a tutorial to consolidate the moves I learned, then it was on to the pre-performance rehearsal.
“Right, we’re going to start off with the moves we learnt today, then we’re just going to freestyle,” said Ian enthusiastically, as I nervously paired up with him.
“Don’t worry, just let me lead,” said Ian, and he reeled off a list of technical terms I was to attempt. To my horror, Ian had also planned a lift at the end of the routine – I had visions of it all going horribly wrong. Surprisingly, Ian and I completed the routine with only one mishap – and the lift went off without a hitch.
I can honestly say my night with Danceaholics was an enjoyable one, and is a great evening even for a beginner. It won’t be long before I pull on my dancing shoes again.
Find out in this week’s Worthing Herald (October 20) how you can win a pair of Danceaholics tickets for you and a partner. For more information about Danceaholics, contact Ian on 01273 453733, or visit www.danceaholics.co.uk