Leicester: Braunstone Town

Civic Centre,

Kingsway, Braunstone Town, Leicester, Leicestershire  LE3 2PP

The Civic Centre sounds grand – if you don’t know Leicester you might expect a major venue at the heart of the city.   This isn’t – it is a civic centre in a suburb.

It’s none the worse for that but it does mean that as you approach Kingsway, and find it a narrow street with only just enough room for cars to try and get past each other (what with all the cars parked by the side of the road)  you might well wonder if you are in the right place.  Especially as the road stretches on for much further than you might expect.

The Civic Centre is easy to miss – I certainly did not see signs to it as I tried to make my way there – and ultimately only saw it by chance, because several other cars were turning in.

There is one site that pronounces that the Centre has on site parking.  Which is true – but nowhere near enough to cope with a freestyle which means that you are either trying to find the last single space in the on site parking, or searching for a suitable road on the housing estate that surrounds the Centre.

And while I am on the complaints (which will be countered in a moment by positive comments) the pictures of the venue from the inside are taking with only a modest number of dancers in what looks like a big space.  It’s not – it is one of the smallest Ceroc venues there is.

Indeed friends told me not to bother with it when I went, not least because of the crowdedness.  “Bumper cars” was one comment.

It wasn’t that bad when I went – and I went on a night when the Ceroc dance in Northampton had been called off with just a few days to go, and there was nothing much else around.

Yes it was full-ish but that’s not really a problem, for it means you get a lot of choice of dancers.

And there was a strange tendency of the locals to crowd down one end of the room where you really could hardly dance.  Down the far end, by the stage, there was much more room.

The bar itself is in the dance area – which is not so clever – but that’s how its been around.  The staff were friendly, and although there were often long queues, they really did do their best.  The water is free – good for them.

The key plusses – and they are big ones – is that the place was very friendly, and the music was just what was wanted.  Old favourites with a smattering of new songs through a good sound system.

One amusing moment I had – a sophisticated lady came up to me and said, “Shall we boogie?”  Now I take that to be a phrase that means the speaker has a certain level of old-time experience at dancing, maybe going back to the original days of jive.  This lady, bless her, had none of that – in fact she had very little idea about what modern jive was about.

Now I do try and dance regularly with beginners – I’ve no problem with that at all, and I remember those people who helped me when I was trying to unlearn traditional jive and learn modern jive.  Indeed the first lady I danced with on my evening at the venue said she was pretty much a beginner, but she was far from that – a light touch, and following every move as I made them more and more advanced through the two dances we had.

But trying to suggest you are cool and know it, when you don’t is odd – and sometimes amusing.

  • Air conditioning: 3 out of 5 – I have seen it mentioned that there is air conditioning but I’m not sure about this.  There are certainly fans around, but they were not switched on.
  • Atmosphere: 5 out of 5
  • Do ladies ask men: 3 out of five. Not bad, although one request was the boogie lady (see above) and one from a lady who told me to hold her more tightly as my touch was too gentle.  Ah well.
  • Facilities: 3 out of 5
  • Free water: Yes.
  • Friendliness: 5 out of 5
  • Location: 3 out of 5.  Great if you live in Braunstone, difficult to find and park otherwise.
  • Music: 4 out of 5
  • Parking: 2 out of 5
  • Space: 3 out of 5
  • Venue overall: 3 out of 5