Blackpool is renowned for many things, the Pleasure Beach, the Illuminations, the civilised night life (cough) but it is most importantly the home of Ballroom Dancing.
Inspired by the Eiffel Tower and built in 1894 it is here that dance in England took a pivotal turn, some would say for the better and some for the worse. From the early days of dancing round the Maypole where there was very little contact between male and female partners, dance began to take a different path with the introduction of the Tango and Charleston. Some people believed dancing was becoming too sexual and would lead to 'trouble', going against the Christian values and Professionals believed it needed some order putting back in place.
A series of conferences were held where they discussed the removal of the 'freak steps' and introduction of a standardised way of dancing. This resulted in the 4 main types of dance to dominate the floors for years to come, the Waltz, Foxtrot, One Step and Tango. Victor Silvester even went as far as standardising the music with an orchestra who played a strict tempo.
Thankfully dance today no longer follows such strict rules, imagine how dull the music would be if that was the case, although as we all know there are 'rules' in Salsa (Jakes 3 moves). The Ballroom has seen all the latest dances come and go over the past 100 years and here and now one of those current dances is Salsa.
This meant that a couple of weeks ago a few of our StreetSalsa members could head to the infamous Blackpool Tower Ballroom to dance at the Salsa event hosted by 4 the Love of Dance.
Anyone who watches Strictly will know that the week the contestants go to the Ballroom it is a special occasion and I must agree that as we walked up the ornate staircase and I got my first glimpse of the dance floor I could see why. I cannot possibly describe just how breathtaking the building is, and even been there I struggled to take it all in. You can almost feel the history in the walls, including my own; following in the footsteps of both my grandparents who danced there in their youth. The ceiling is covered in a painting fit for the Sistine Chapel, the stage has beautiful marble surrounding it and the smooth sprung dance floor is just what every dancer craves.
In contrast the music was fresh and diverse with 3 DJ's playing a mixture of Bachata, Kizomba and Salsa, and the age range was even more varied. I can honestly say I didn't have one bad dance while I was there and spent the whole night with a huge grin on my face. We danced to the very end not getting back to Leeds till daylight the next morning, but I have to say it was totally worth it, and I would doubt that anyone else who went would disagree (even poor Rich and his flat tyre).
To prove it, head to the facebook for some of the photos of our dancers taken on the night-including the best pose by James and Sophie on THE stage.
I love to drink, dance and travel. Even better if I can do them all at the same time ;)
Great post Emma. Love the history lesson! I think it's fascinating how the rules drawn up in the early days of ballroom dancing in England have influenced the dances (and indeed dance culture) we have today. It's hugely interesting to see how some of the rules (for better or worse) have stuck and some seem to have fallen out of existence.
As for Blackpool Tower, I cannot sing its praises enough. It's definitely one of the best nights I've been to in years, and I will be back every quarter from now on. Nothing will stop me!
I couldn't imagine any event that would make me say "it was worth the acute lack of sleep, blowing out a tyre, having no car for 3 days and being freezing cold stuck on the hard shoulder of the M62 at 5 in the morning."
But Blackpool Tower was worth it.
Nice post Emma! You know my thoughts on ballroom dancing lol... Think we wouldn't have such a British attitude to dancing if the professional elite hadn't taking dance from the people and standardised it, and taken out the 'freak steps' - but hey ho, what a cracking night at Blackpool.
Amazing venue, can't wait for the next one. We should organise a big group to head over for the next one!
It was such a pleasure to read this article, Emma! I really enjoyed learning about the history of the tower and 'modern' dance.
Blackpool Ballroom was such awonderfully beautiful place to dance; I totally agree that the history could be felt. It was quite a magical feeling quickly glancing up in the middle of the dance floor at that gorgeous ceiling!
Now, having learnt a little more about the standardisation of dancing through your article, the memory of the cluttered dance floor of so many couples dancing their own little 'stories' (every dance tells a story to me, even if it's just that I'm having an 'off-day') is even more fantastic!! It feels a little naughty and rebellious! But, I guess that is yet another thing we all love about salsa!
I smiled every second that I was there too! If I could, I would relive every second....including our journey home, Richard!! :)