I have been doing some visiting earlier this month, so an early start in the car and the car radio broadcasting Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s contribution to Children In Need with her 24 hour Kitchen Disco. An amazing effort by Sophie, with coverage on Radio 2 pumping out some of her most popular hits. So out came ‘Murder on the Dance Floor’. Volume on the car radio turned up, even if it was a bit too early to be boogieing in the back seat.

For Sophie Ellis-Bextor devotees, it was released 3rd December 2001 (heck, that’s 20 years ago!), reached number 2 in the singles charts and stayed in the charts for 23 weeks.KatieMadeleine

My nephews and nieces are important to me. The eldest is 20 and at university, but we were on the way to Manchester to meet the newest addition, born a couple of weeks ago. Somehow, the struggles of the last couple of years fades into the background when you are holding such precious new life. I wonder how the post-Covid world will look to her as she grows up, with no experience of what was before.

I know some Para Dance groups are getting back to meeting in person now, and each has their own Covid precautions, to find their new normal. As I was in Manchester on a Wednesday, and, clearing my negative Lateral Flow Covid test, I took the opportunity to visit the Strictly Wheels class that evening.
There was a warm welcome from Paula and Gary, familiar faces from competitions, and the rest of the class. I was relieved to be told that there were several new dancers that evening, so I didn’t feel like the only newcomer, and I was quickly paired with a new dancer.

Strictly Wheels has classes on alternate Wednesdays open to all, and concentrates on competition dancers on the other Wednesdays. Their own way to manage the social dance and competition dance elements that appears to be a hot debate in Para Dance at the moment.

From their international competition background Paula and Gary specialise in Ballroom and Latin. Those of you who have been to national competitions, might have seen that my own preferences are for Freestyle. This wasn’t missed by Paula, who patiently guided me, and my new dance partner, through some of the finer points of Ballroom technique. We all have something to learn, and where better to learn than from someone with such International competition experience.

The class ended with practice sessions by the competition dancers, Paula and Gary, and also Goz and Lloyd. As well as being a practice for them, I was relieved to be able to sit back and marvel at what can be achieved with the dedication and hard work they have all put into their dance.

It was an enlightening experience to see another Para Dance class and I would recommend sampling another class if you get the opportunity, visiting relatives, or any other excuse you have for being in a different area.

We are all part of the national Para Dance UK organisation, and have so much to learn from each other.