Northants: Kettering

Wicksteed Park Pavilion

Barton Road, Kettering, Northamptonshire, NN15 6NJ

It is a spacious venue in a delightful setting of a large country park, but it comes with the problem that there is so much space to sit away from the dance floor that people do get together in their own groups.  That doesn’t mean people don’t mingle, but it does show the one benefit of the more crowded venue – you are all forced together.

Given that it is such a nice place it is strange that as a location for dances (as opposed to club nights) it has declined over the years, and I get the feeling (perhaps unjustified) that the Ceroc Passion franchise doesn’t have anyone with drive and enthusiasm at the top, unlike Ceroc Central or Ceroc Buckingham – the local rivals.

The one thing that is wrong with the club nights, for the beginner is the fact that they put the beginners’ revision class in a tiny entrance lobby.  It’s too small, it’s a thoroughfare, and it just says “you ain’t important” in big letters.

Also I have noticed that sometimes the taxi dancers really don’t seem to care too much about beginners.  Some do, but to see some taxis dancing together or with their friends even in between the beginners’ class and the intermediate, doesn’t say much for the operation of the franchise.   It was the same issue that stopped beginners coming through at Wellingborough when it was at the Railway Club, and it was never dealt with there.

The bar is spacious and attractively set out (a major change after the last renovation), and there is seating a plenty.

One specific problem they have however is that because of the attractiveness of the venue, there are more frequent venue changes than there should be and it is common to find that the whole of December is written off, with Ceroc moving to the awful Athletics Club.

  • Air conditioning: 4 out of 5
  • Atmosphere: 3 out of 5.  There’s no problem – just that the venue is quite large for the numbers so the atmosphere can die.
  • Do ladies ask men: 2 out of 5.  Not that much, which is a shame.
  • Facilities: 3 out of 5.  A great arena, spoiled only by the dance floor which slopes at one end and often seems to be sticky in places.  It didn’t seem to be fixed in the last refurbishment.
  • Free water: Yes
  • Friendliness: 3 out of 5 – people tend to stick to their own small groups – possibly because there is so much room
  • Location: 5 out of 5 unless you don’t have a car, in which case it is impossible.
  • Music: 4 out of 5
  • Parking: 4 out of 5 – you can’t park on the road, but there are car parks at either end although the signposting is awful, with barriers up making it look like the whole roadway is blocked.  I wonder how many people have given up and gone home on seeing that.
  • Space: 5 out of 5 – never found it full
  • Venue overall: 4 out of 5

Have we been unfair?  Reviews are based on personal experiences.  If you want to add another opinion just write to Tony.Attwood@aisa.org and we’ll add your alternative review.  Alternatively just add a comment.