Six O’clock last Sunday morning, and the Dancesport team were ready to depart for their first competition of the academic year – Leicester Friendly 2015! York always takes only returning members of the team to Leicester, and as a 16 strong group we headed down to (in friendly-fashion) battle it out against universities from as far as Edinburgh and London.
We arrived at the venue – a leisure centre on the edge of Leicester – at about half-past eight. Once settled, with hair done and bowties tied, the couples took to the floor for a last minute practice, and to adjust their routines to its long and narrow shape. The competition commenced at ten O’clock with the Mayfair Quickstep. This sequence dance was used to kick off the day in a light-hearted and fun manner, and to get everyone in the dancing mood.
Before the competition started properly, the organising committee read some words they had prepared regarding the tragic events which occurred in Paris last Friday. This speech was centred around Dancesport as an international community, and reflected on dance as a common language without words, through which people can break down boundaries and form friendships. It was very poignant, and participants were invited onto the dancefloor to hold a minute’s silence for those affected by the attacks. This also served to remind us that, even given the nature of the day, dancing is more about enjoyment and inclusion than it is about competition.
Following this, the dancing started proper with the ballroom rounds. Leicester saw many of York’s couples dancing in the Novice category for the first time, having moved up from Beginners. Make no mistake – this is not a category for novices! – and most students remain here for the entirety of their university careers, meaning that it is host to dancers with over five or ten years of experience. It was therefore very pleasing to see some of the new Novice couples making such excellent progress through the rounds, and congratulations must be extended to Lydia Teale and Vikki Gale for getting to the fourth round (quarter-finals) of Waltz! Complements also go to Nina Hakovirta and Freddie Turner, who surprised everyone with their progress into the third round of Novice Waltz, despite having been partnered only three days earlier! In an exciting turn of events, this year has seen Andrew Grantham and Katie Peeling move up into the Intermediate level of ballroom, and we enjoyed watching with awe and wonder as they flew around the dancefloor exercising the alleviated step and dress restrictions which follow with the category. They also performed very well in Open Viennese Waltz, coming in ninth place!
Due to ballroom overrunning, the lunch break was very short and consisted mostly of Latin practice ahead of the afternoon rounds. After having been lured onto the floor by the organising committee to partake in such fun rounds as ‘Musical Statues Quickstep’ (this is pretty self-explanatory), and to have our disco dancing prowess tested to the Macarena and various songs from Grease, we continued on with the next dance in the competition – Rock ‘n’ Roll!
York always does very well in Rock ‘n’ Roll, and Leicester proved no exception. Well done to Anna Hughes and Vikki Gale for their fantastic result, making it into the final and coming in fourth place! Their display of energy and style defied all reason of what a person should be able to accomplish after getting up at four O’clock in the morning! Congratulations also to Roses Rock ‘n’ Roll champions Dave Barker and Lauren Harrison, who very narrowly missed out on the final.
Following Rock ‘n’ Roll were the Latin rounds, consisting of Cha Cha Cha and Jive as compulsory dances, with open rounds in Samba and Paso Doble. With all of the team present now having at least a year’s experience under their belts, many enjoyed participating in the open rounds, and some with considerable success. Anna and Vikki (of Rock ‘n’ Roll fame) did exceptionally well in Novice Cha Cha Cha, making it into the semi-final!
We didn’t stay for Team Match this time, and departed at about eight O’clock in the evening, returning to York at around ten. Although eager to take every opportunity to dance, the team seemed appreciative of this slightly early finish, and we were all exhausted after an enjoyable but very long day. It was a great competition, with a lovely, light-hearted atmosphere – and for the returning members of the team, a good opportunity to settle back into things ahead of the next two competitions happening in the coming weeks. Our attention now turns to Warwick, on the 22nd of November, so be braced and ready to receive more rambling reports of our exciting adventures up and down the country! Until then,
Words by Freddie Turner