Blackpool is the most exciting event of the year. The Inter Varsity Dance Competition, or IVDC, last February is what made me want to run for Press and Publicity – to have the opportunity to attempt to catalogue what makes it so special.
The venue is certainly a major part of the experience. IVDC takes place in the Winter Gardens, with, due to the vast number of competitors taking part, the event being split between the grand Empress Ballroom and enchanting Spanish Hall. The Empress Ballroom is huge – so long that routines have to be doubled rather than simply tweaked to fit the space effectively – and is ornately and elegantly decorated, with two floors of balconies sitting below twelve chandeliers which hang from the high arching patterned ceiling. It was built in 1896 and is one of only a few ballrooms in the country with a sprung dancefloor; when the Jive is being danced, one standing on the edge can feel the whole thing vibrating! Some of the most prestigious international dance competitions have taken place here, and it is a real privilege to step out onto the same dancefloor which has hosted some of the world’s most distinguished dancers. Travelling down a long mirrored corridor brings you out in the Spanish Hall, a small and intimate room modelled on a traditional Spanish village. The Winter Gardens are like a treasure trove, and peeking your head through another door suddenly finds you in a Tudor dining hall. Needless to say, it’s a magical place.
We departed from the university at about six O’clock the evening before the competition, bound for the Dukeries Hotel, which sits just opposite the Winter Gardens. There was time for a quick explore, Jive on the beach and paddle before we headed to bed nice and early ahead of the following day’s endeavours.
Competition day, Saturday the 27th of February, and after being greeted with a fabulous breakfast, York’s team assembled and headed across the road. As usual, the ballroom rounds started the day, and the beginners were first to dance in the Empress Ballroom at nine O’clock. IVDC is a national event, with university teams from all over the country in attendance (this year there were almost seven hundred couples participating), and so it was excellent to see all of the beginners progressing into the second round of Waltz. Connor Fitzgerald and Serena James did incredibly well, making it into the fourth round of both Waltz and Quickstep! After the first rounds, the beginner and ex-student events moved to the Spanish Hall, while the novice, intermediate and advanced competitions continued in parallel back in the Empress Ballroom. Well done to York’s novice and ex-student novice couples who saw progression into the second rounds of their two-dance ballroom events!
Before the fiery Latin rounds of the afternoon came Offbeat. Having come first at NUDC two weeks earlier, we had high hopes that we would do well again, and were excited to dance our routine once more. Our performance was very well received, and we were delighted to place second out of the fifteen universities taking part – an absolutely fantastic achievement!
With no time for breaks in IVDC’s packed schedule, it was straight into the Latin rounds. Some of our ex-student couples did astoundingly well here, particularly Anna Hughes and Katie Peeling, who made it into the semi-final! Andrew Grantham and Nicola Haydon also did very well, making the quarter-finals. Competition in novice was tough, with few of York’s couples progressing past the first round. Special commendations hence go to Nina Hakovirta and Delali Konu for making it through, despite being partnered only a couple of days before; excellent work! Similarly, congratulations to Andrew and Becky Wells, who also progressed into the second round.
The next event was Rock ‘n’ Roll, and it was fantastic to watch Dave Barker and Lauren Harrison as they kept being recalled onto the dancefloor, progressing into the third round and on to twelfth place out of the one hundred or so couples taking part!
At eight O’clock, sandwiched between the qualifier and the first rounds of Team Match, took place two demonstrations: one Acrobatic Ceroc, which is quite similar to Acrobatic Rock ‘n’ Roll; and one ballroom. The former was performed by the world Acrobatic Ceroc champions, and was breathtaking to watch (if rather frightening), with all sorts of lifts and precariously balanced spins! The ballroom demonstration was by the United Kingdom and International Professional Rising Star Champions, and was a little unconventional, the five performances more like show dances telling the story of a romance. Both were highly enjoyable.
Despite a valiant effort, none of York’s teams progressed into the second round of Team Match, though this was partly anticipated since Team A had managed to get themselves into the tough Division 1 competition! This marked the end of the day for us, and after the all-important team photograph we slowly began readying ourselves to head home. We departed from Blackpool at about half past eleven, arriving back in York roughly two hours later.
IVDC is a fantastic event on the university circuit calendar, and we all had a great day. Even after a packed term, the team are fired up and getting ready for the final epic battle of the year… Roses 2016! See you again in Early May when we traverse the Pennines once more and dance to keep our claim on last year’s winning title.
Words by Freddie Turner