Monday, 21 November 2016

I did it!

Hurray and hurrah!  Tomorrow evening will be my third time at Manchester Lindy. It feels so good to be dancing again. 

I'm sticking with level 1 classes for now.  Whilst I'd like to move into the level 2 class, I'm quite enjoying revision of the basics.  And I know there will be some moves (think Charleston) that I'll need to go over. 

The social dancing after class is also fun.  And I do get to practice the more advanced stuff. 

So now I've made the move, so to speak, perhaps I'll manage to get back to the ballroom and Latin, and perhaps even find an Argentine Tango class, in the new year.  Watch this space!

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

How have so many days "danced" away?

So long since I last posted!  There has been some dancing in between.

What sticks in my mind?

Well, definitely my birthday last year - great playlist, good friends, lots of moves on the dance floor.  And I felt so good the next day - aches and pains seemed to have slipped away ... probably a lesson there that I should be pursuing a more active lifestyle.

There was also the annual weekend away with friends - usually this involves some kind of dance-related activity; but this year it was rather more sedate, as our trio of troubadours produced a 'pageant' marking the life and loves of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I.  "Why?", I hear you ask.  Well, the reason is lost in the mists of time but it seemed like a good idea at the time.

And at the WI there have been a couple of dance-themed evenings, starting with Bollywood in March, and then a Lindy Hop/Charleston lesson from Velody in June.  

But I still haven't got back to a regular class.  "Must try harder in 2017."

Friday, 21 August 2015

Perhaps the fingers were "dancing"?

A couple of Fridays ago saw me up at the crack of dawn so I could get into Manchester to meet friends from The University of Manchester In Stitches group to yarn bomb the Corrie Tour.

The group had been preparing for a couple of months, having been invited by a PR company to decorate the Street.  We'd been asked to do more than we did - but had to be realistic and manage expectations.  But fingers were flying (dancing?) in the days leading up to the yarn bombing morning - finishing squares, making up flowers, and completing the hanging 'basket'.

20150803-yarnbomb-basket-snippetSome members of the group went down to 'recce' the Street the week before - and received some press attention, from both the Manchester Evening News and the University news desk.

Our next project is a craft stall in November to raise money for the Wood Street Mission and the local Food Bank.  But there may well be distractions along the way - our fame seems to have spread and we're getting invitations to yarn bomb other places!

Thursday, 9 April 2015

... or the evening with Elle and the Pocket Belles

I spent the week before Easter in Birmingham at the annual meetings of the General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches (#gauk) - aka the Unitarians.  This is four days spent with 300 or so fellow Unitarians attending business meetings, workshops, seminars and presentations, catching up with people I sometimes see only once a year and meeting new people who I can connect with via social media (and hopefully meet again next year).  I was there representing Rochdale Unitarians.

The evenings are taken up by different opportunities to share in community:
The banner from Rochdale Unitarians.

  • an anniversary service, in which representatives from each local congregation and local/national groups parade with our banners - this year to a rather jaunty tune which had me trying to jig along whilst carrying a banner far taller than me! 
  • a celebration of our congregations and members, which was led this year by the six new ministers who were welcomed onto the Ministerial Roll at the anniversary service - this included Rev Shammy Webster, who joined Rochdale Unitarians as our minister in October 2014;
  • a social evening, which this year featured music from Elle & the Pocket Belles, whose music is "a fusion of vintage swing and modern day pop that is sure to get your toes a-tappin' and arms a-flppin'" - and it sure did!  I was first on the dance floor, followed closely by a couple of friends, and then by many others.  It's amazing to see how this style of music - whether it be true vintage or modern day with a '40s feel - gets people up and dancing.  My feet certainly felt it the following day - but it was a fabulous performance by the Elle & the Pocket Belles and I look forward to being able to see them again somewhere, some day.
Elle & the Pocket Belles.

So not quite dancing the days, away - but definitely last Wednesday evening!

Monday, 2 March 2015

Not dancing, not getting fit - but hoping to change that

I enjoyed the two Lindy Hop improver classes I attended last year - it was good to learn something, and to have the challenge of new steps and new combinations, amongst a bunch of friendly people.  The class that Keith had hoped to run in the new year didn't happen (not enough people/leads signing up).  A new improvers class has just started and I would have been signing up for it ... however, I realised I would miss at least three out of the six classes, so have decided to give this one a miss.  But - the miss is the dancing.

I also signed up for a new exercise class at work, Fitsteps.  It's apparently based around ballroom and Latin American dance steps so sounded just up my street.  But for one reason or another I haven't yet made it to a class.  The first one was cancelled (snow at the end of January), then I forgot my kit (doh!), the following week I had a day off so wasn't in work to go to the class after work, the next week I had to leave early (family illness) and last week I was at the inaugural Pankhurst Lecture addressed by Shami Chakrabarti (an interesting and thought-provoking event).  So I've missed half the series.  I can in theory go to the last four classes - but I'd also planned to start attending the local photography club, which has it's third meeting on the final week of the Fitsteps class (an extra week was added because of the snow).  Shall I go?  Is it worthwhile, given I've missed so many classes?  Will the class be run again?

Watch this space ...

And hopefully see something more positive soon!

Friday, 7 November 2014

Back dancing ... and reading ... and ...

I'm dancing again!  I completed (most of) a six week Lindy Hop improvers class with Keith McGee from Feets of Amazement, and I've just started the next six week class.  It's been the same group of about six of us, plus Keith, and we've continued learning the routine we started seven weeks ago.  Unfortunately there is an imbalance in the number of leads (two plus Keith) and follows (four of us), so if there are any other leads out there who fancy joining in please let Keith know!

It feels good to be dancing and most definitely learning again.  I've discovered I can remember (most) steps I've learnt before, that I can still learn new ones, and that there are also still some (old and new) which I find a challenge.  But the sense of satisfaction and glee when I master a new step (or an old one!) is wonderful.  And we're each finding that we find some things easier or more difficult than others, and can help each other.  We have fun.  We laugh when things to wrong.  We exchange sidelong looks when Keith demonstrates the next bit ... really?!  There is definitely a sense of trepidation about next week - we're "threatened" with a lift.  Hmmmm.

See a little bit of the routine we're learning (not us!) on YouTube (see from about 00:32-00:49 mins).

And I've also been reading.  In the summer, in preparation for my holiday, I invested in a tablet and have been reading eBooks.  But I do also have real books.  I've just finished a book I picked up whilst wandering through Foyles at Waterloo Station - God's Dog (2012/2014) by Diego Marani (tr Judith Landry).

Not an author I've come across before (although it seems perhaps I should have done), I will probably look out for other books by this author; indeed the book I've just read is apparently the first in a trilogy - and I do like to "have the complete set".

The 'blurb on the back' describes the book as being "full of moral issues".  And it certainly is.  It's also very topical in that it explores issues of euthanasia and assisted dying, as well as creationism vs Darwinism, and poses some challenging questions.

It's set about twenty years from now - although I found I had to keep reminding myself of that; in places it felt like it was many centuries ago, in others it seemed very futuristic.  Some people may feel that the principles described in the book are fairly reasonable; personally I found the world described - not too far from now - a frightening prospect.  The action is set in Rome, but a Rome in which "Italy is now a theocratic state ruled by the Vatican" and embodies what, for me, are the most restrictive and repressive aspects of  religious (in this case, Roman Catholic) belief.  The Guardian review (2014) refers to a "dystopia" and calls it, "a frighteningly plausible state as repressive as anything I have seen from any dictatorship".  Whilst I respect the beliefs of others, in the same way as I would hope others respect my beliefs, the thought of living in such a world is indeed an alarming prospect.  I can imagine this book providing great food for thought and animated discussion in my reading group.  However, the book - which the 'blurb' also says "will delight aficionados of thrillers and detective fiction as well" - was indeed very readable (I'm a bit of a fan of thrillers/detective stories).  I will look out for other books by Marani.

Friday, 18 April 2014

Where has all the dancing gone?

Today - on Facebook - I read a comment from a friend about a blog which will be no more from the end of May.  That, of course, prompted me to look at the blog in question, and curiosity took me to the events calendar.  It included three regular (weekly) dance classes, Lindy/jive which once upon a time had become my big thing - although ballroom and Latin will forever have a place in my heart (or perhaps that should be my feet).  I decided to save the page so that I had it as a reference for the dance classes, two of which I knew about already.  I use Print Friendly and usually download a PDF of the page.  I started to save the PDF, looking for the 'Dance' folder ... I always have a dance folder on my computer.  But - horrors - no dance folder!

It has been probably about six months since I attended my last dance class, and that had been an enjoyable but brief six week Balboa class offered by Feets of Amazement.  Before and after I have been telling myself I need to get dancing again.  There was a time when I was dancing three or four times a week, and at weekends if there was an event.  Manchester Lindy demonstrated at Manchester WI a year or so ago ... and I thought, yes, now I've met some of the members I could go along on my own.  But "life" has got in the way.

So now I've once again come across details of classes, I must make an effort to start dancing again.  Watch this space ...