Twirl your cares away at Greenwich Dance's modern-day tea parties

News Shopper: Strictly Ballroom, cake and tea at Greenwich Dance Strictly Ballroom, cake and tea at Greenwich Dance

‘Excuse me miss, would you like to dance?’

That was the question I was dreading when I went along to a popular modern-day tea dance – mainly because I’ve no idea how to waltz let alone jive.

But actually, my heart sank when it seemed it would never come and I began feeling like a wallflower, regretting my choice of glittery purple eyeliner.

It was Saturday afternoon and I’d put on my little black dress a little earlier than usual and come to see what all the fuss was about at Greenwich Dance’s Strictly Ballroom party.

I didn’t know what to expect apart from maybe a few twinkle-toed pensioners so I was very pleasantly surprised when I walked into the stunning hall packed with excited dancers of all ages, getting ready for the first song of the day.

I sat at one of the tables around the great dance-floor with a charming couple who later told me they’d been coming to dance classes at the venue since last September in preparation for their upcoming wedding.

It was their first time at one of the school’s tea dances though, and they admitted to feeling a little intimidated by the skilled crowd of expert quick steppers.

‘If they’re nervous after six months of practice, what chance do I have?’ I asked myself.

Exquisitely–dressed instructor Thomas Michael Voss introduced the wonderful live band on stage and everyone clapped as he pointed to the stunning star of the show – the actual mirror ball seen on BBC One’s Strictly Come Dancing.

As the band played Moon River I jealously watched couples glide effortlessly around the room and admired the ladies’ glittering heels and ball gowns.

It has to be said everyone at least knew the basic steps of the waltz, cha cha, jive and rumba – there were only the correct number of left feet in sight.

And there is certainly no shortage of cheeky characters at this amazingly civilised event.

I couldn’t help but smile as I watched one gent in his 60s dance with every single available girl at least once.

News Shopper: Strictly Ballroom, cake and tea at Greenwich Dance

Deliriously happy, his face was an absolute joy to behold as he skilfully skipped through each and every song with a different lady in his arms.

Young dancers, some clearly semi-professional, teamed up with amateurs to help them along – but my hands started getting clammy when I saw even the beginners knew their stuff.

During a half-time break people queued in a quintessentially British fashion for tea and luscious carrot cake which was when Mr Voss performed a breath-taking rumba - or “dance of love” as he called it – with his beautiful partner.

Time flew by despite the fact I had merely been a spectator and it was nearly the end of the dance when, just as I’d given up on my chances, my Prince Charming arrived.

At first I turned Harry down when he asked me to jive, saying I didn’t know how to dance.

Sensing my fear, he settled for the last waltz and vowed to return at 4.20pm to fetch me.

The idea of letting Harry, a man in his 80s, down with my shoddy steps was excruciating and I felt guilty even before we made it to the floor.

But, despite an extremely awkward start (and the fact I towered over my date), we somehow fell into sync with one another and managed to shuffle around almost in time with the music.

Harry held me tightly and sang along to Somewhere Over the Rainbow as we went – it was a very moving moment and I realised tea dances must have had something to do with our grandparents managing to stay in love longer than couples today seem to.

The second in a line-up of themed events, the dance went down a storm with all.

Greenwich Dance, Royal Hill is perfect for anyone looking to dance their cares away with a good-spirited bunch of new friends, but if I were you I’d watch a couple more episodes of Strictly beforehand.

The next themed tea dance will be the Vintage Years celebrating the 20s, 30s and 40s on April 21 between 2 and 4.30pm.

Entrance is £5 or £4 for concessions.

For more information visit greenwichdance.org.uk

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