Monthly Archives: January 2014

Electric Jive at Grantham, Lincs

Attention: This venue now seems to be no longer used.
Electric Jive at Grantham review by Caroline.
The Electric Jive at the Electric Club in Grantham is located at 11 Commercial Road, Grantham, NG31 6DB.
It’s a small club along a narrow, not that well lit, side street of terraced houses, and our first reaction was, “is it safe to park the car here?”   Maybe that was unfair, but in turned out there was no parking in the street, so we doubled back, and parked in the main road at the end, opposite the bus station.   Brightly lit, wide, and with no parking restrictions after 6pm.
The Venue is a small room above a bar, but numbers were limited which prevented the dance floor becoming like bumper cars.
The bar is cheap but not ideal that you had to walk downstairs through the main club and we got a few looks – but it wasn’t that bad.
A Good atmosphere was created in a small space and numbers seemed evenly balanced. Entry fee was £7 which is great value given the level of food supplied free of charge.
  • Air conditioning: 5 out of 5 – I’m not sure there was any, but it was a good temperature throughout.  Maybe we need to check in the heat of summer.
  • Atmosphere: 4 out of 5.  It is hard to do much more in a small arena, to be fair.
  • Do ladies ask men?   5 out of 5.  My companion for the evening was asked all evening through.
  • Free water: Yes
  • Friendliness – 5 out of 5.  One of the friendliest freestyles I have been too. People chatting and I got asked to dance lots.
  • Location: 4 out of 5.   It’s a side street, and quite possibly our concern about parking the car was just paranoia in a town we didn’t know.
  • Music – 4 out of 5, a good selection and varied well throughout the night with the odd fast and slower one thrown in at regular intervals. Requests for tracks were also taken.
  • Facilities – 4 out of 5 – Free water upstairs but anything else had to be purchased from the bar downstairs in the main club. Food was provided – yummy cakes to keep you going!
  • Parking – 3 out of 5  – road parking but there did seem to be plenty in other streets close to the club
  • Venue overall: 4 out of 5.  It’s tough to take on a small venue in a side street and make it work, but they have done it.

The Buckingham Community Centre

 

The Buckingham Community Centre

Cornwall Meadows, Buckingham MK 18 1RP

This venue is used for Ceroc classes which are run by the same couple who also used to run the successful venue at Rugby, and have also been associated with Peterborough.  They now are involved in Bedford.

The Community Centre consists of two rooms, and lessons are taught on a monday night with occasional weekend dances.

I’ve only been to the dances but mostly they have been very good indeed – full enough so that they feel lively and fun, but not so full that they feel over crowded.  There’s space on the dance floor, but plenty of people to choose from to dance with.

There’s no bar in the venue, but people bring in their own drink and on one of the two times I was there we were all given a glass of fizzy wine at the door – a nice touch.  There’s food laid out too.

Marc and Sarah really work at their venues – they run the show, do the demo, play the music and then dance with the club members – at Rugby continuing to play the music until the numbers are thinning down.  Marc’s comments about his partner during the lessons may not be to everyone’s taste, but you can’t fault his enthusiasm.

There’s food at the dances and the adverts suggest at the evenings as well, along with coffee etc.  Not sure as I haven’t witnessed it, but it’s a nice touch.

  • Air conditioning: Big fans – may be air con too.  No problem.
  • Atmosphere: 5 out of 5.  It is a modern hall, so none of the coldness of the old halls from the 1960s.  A nice feel.
  • Do ladies ask men: 4 out of 5.  Maybe I got lucky but I got requests to dance from beginners to advanced dancers.  All the time – in fact.
  • Facilities: 4 out of 5.  No bar but bring your own drinks.  Otherwise it has it all.
  • Free water: Yes
  • Friendliness: 5 out of 5.  Totally warm and welcoming.
  • Location: 5 out of 5.  It’s on the edge of town, by a supermarket, with a more than adequate carpark.  Not ideal signposting, but even if you miss the turn you’ll catch it next time around.  Could do with a bigger notice outside too – and a signpost from the supermarket carpark.  I am sure it is fine in daylight, but in the darkness of winter…
  • Music: 5 out of 5 – nothing I couldn’t dance to.
  • Parking: 5 out of 5 large car park right outside.
  • Space: 4 out of 5 – just beware if it becomes more and more popular.
  • Venue overall: 4 out of 5 – but getting close to 5.

Index of reviews

Electric Jive, Stamford, Lincs

Electric Jive

The Danish Invader. Empingham Road, Stamford, PE9 2SX.

Note: this pub is used by the club as a venue for lessons.  Dances in Stamford organised by the same group are held at the Arts Centre in the town centre

Electric Jive is an independent club which opened in 2013 in Stamford Lincolnshire, at the Danish Invader pub, just off the A1.

When I attended there were about 30 or 40 people there, a mix of beginners and more experienced dancers, and for once the claim of being a “friendly” venue was true.  It was indeed, and despite the modest number of dancers, I danced through the freestyle without a break – there was always someone wanting a turn on the floor.

Everyone wanted a chat, asked where I regularly danced, and was kindly suggesting it would be nice to see me again.

The club is held in a bar which is closed – a second bar is used for serving the drink.   Parking is in the pub car park, and on a Monday night there is no problem.

If you insist on the big venues that Ceroc offers, then this is not for you, but if you like somewhere smaller, and with a friendly atmosphere, I’d go for this venue.

  • Atmosphere: 3 out of 5.  The hall isn’t designed for atmosphere and the numbers are small, so it’s not an all-out funky location.  It’s just a bar turned into a little dance club, but there is nothing wrong in that.
  • Do ladies ask men: 5 out of 5.  All the time – in fact I can’t think of anywhere where IU have been asked to dance more.
  • Facilities: 5 out of 5 – the bar is next door but not crowded, the car park is adequate and right outside, they manage to give some lighting for a bit of atmosphere.  The only thing I didn’t see was a water jug and plastic cups, which would have been nice.
  • Free water: Yes – go into the bar and ask.
  • Friendliness: 5 out of 5.  Totally warm and welcoming.
  • Location: 5 out of 5.  It’s on the edge of Stamford, ok for residents in the town, fine for anyone coming from out of town along the A1.  Beware, there is another Empingham Road nearby – you need the one just by the A1.
  • Music: 5 out of 5 – nothing I couldn’t dance to.
  • Parking: 5 out of 5 large car park right outside.  Can get a bit crowded if there is a lot going on in the pub, but it is possible to park on the road outside.
  • Space: 5 out of 5 – what is needed is more people there not more space.
  • Venue overall: 4 out of 5 – but getting close to 5.

Index of reviews

Northampton Picturedrom

The Picturedrome

222 Kettering Rd, Northampton NN1 4BN

The Picturedrome is opposite the racecourse, at the end of a Victorian terrace avenue, close by the town centre.  It was Northampton’s first purpose-built cinema in 1912 and is now a restaurant, occasional cinema, bar and dance venue.

And (and this is why I am writing about it) it hosts the most remarkable and amazing once a week dance scene that I know.

Every Thursday (save a few around Xmas and New Year, the club runs a 1pm to 4pm rock n roll club.  Admission is free, and the bars are open for drinks, tea/coffee, and food (which is not just your local normal pub grub).

At 1pm the recorded music starts and the dance floor has 10 to 20 couples doing ballroom jive routines in which everyone does the same thing going round in a circle.

At 2pm on comes the band – and how many of them there are depends on who turns up.  Eight is a common number, with a vocalist appearing late in day.   They play 1950s and 60s rock – and the dance floor is utterly, totally packed.  The dancers jive, do modern jive, or just bop with variations on 1960s non-partner dancing.

The age range of the audience is (I guess) 50s to 70s – maybe some older (but I wouldn’t like to check).   Many turn up in 1940s and 1950s gear (although not Teddy Boy outfits – but you can of course dance in anything you like.

When I went there, there were about ten faces I recognised from the local Ceroc clubs – the rest looked like people who came each week for the show.

First time you arrive they take your name, and if you come three times you have to join – it costs all of £3 a year.  As for the band, they have a whip round at the end of the gig.

The band themselves take a break from 3pm for about 10 minutes, but then get going again, finishing dead on 4pm at which point the leader of the ensemble said, “Well, it’s 4pm and its getting dark, so we all need to be off now,” or words to that effect.

If you have not been there, I suspect you have never seen anything like it – and you really should go.

The venue has a bar and restaurant tables near the front door, the inner sanctum which looks like the cinema it once was, with seating to the rear and the dance floor by the stage and then an upstairs retreat.

If there are other venues like this doing rock n roll tea dances, I’d love to know, but for now  all I can say is you should go to Northampton and see this.  It is truly wonderful.

  • Air conditioning: 5 out of 5 – no fans needed, never once felt hot.
  • Atmosphere: 5 out of 5.  Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant.
  • Do ladies ask men:  1 out of 5.  No – because this is a venue that is mostly inhabited by couples.  That is just the sort of place it is.  One modern jive lady did ask me for a dance.
  • Facilities: 5 out of 5 – good food, two very extensive bars, loads of places to sit, close to the action or right out of the way, whatever takes your fancy.  The dance floor is packed, so maybe I should 4 out of 5, but that would be churlish.
  • Free water: No
  • Friendliness: 5 out of 5.  The ballroom jivers stick to themselves as do the modern jivers, but when we turned up at about 1.15 and stood by the bar a gent came up, asked if it was our first time, told us the form, and made us feel very good about it all.
  • Location: 5 out of 5.  Just out of the town centre opposite the race track.  Undoubtedly it will be lovely in the summer.
  • Music: 5 out of 5
  • Parking: 3 out of 5.  I parked opposite in the car park on the racetrack which technically one should not do, but there is a fair amount of street parking nearby too, with no parking restrictions.
  • Space: 3 out of 5 – crowded but that is part of the fun.
  • Venue overall: 4 out of 5.  By its own standards and what it intends to be it is brilliant.  I just wondered what they might do if an extra 100 people turned up and tried to get on the dance floor.

But despite the fact I am not giving 5/5 throughout, this is a place you really must visit.

Index of reviews and articles

Kingsthorpe, Northampton

The Obelisk Centre
Obelisk Rise
Kingsthorpe
Northampton
NN2 8UE

Dance Synergy were originally based at the recently built Caroline Chisholm School south of Northampton, just north of junction 15 on the M1.  They ran a modest sized club night and some quite large weekend dances in very spacious halls.   Some of these were highly innovative, including in the summer the use of outside areas on specially built dance floors.

Then suddenly, just days before one of these big events, everything stopped with the announcement there will be no more dancing at the school.

Silence ensued until suddenly Dance Synergy reappeared in the Obelisk Centre in Kingsthorpe – a northern suburb of Northampton.

No two venues could be more different.  The Obelisk Centre is truly hard to find – one of a large number of turnings off the meandering Obelisk Rise – the best way to find the place is to download a very detailed local map.   Sat Navs don’t help much as they just think your car is “off road”.

There is parking on site, and when I’ve been its been perfectly adequate.  As for the venue, its more a small night club / party centre than dance venue, but this works perfectly with the numbers that the club gets – maybe around 50 or so dancers, many of whom really are good.

It also boasts “Fully working airconditioning” but on my second visit there was none of that.  Indeed I couldn’t understand why I was getting hot after just four dances, until I found that there were heaters on.   Something was done on my request, but a heater in the entry lobby (which is not separated from the rest of the arena) was gouging out hot air and set to 33 degrees.   It was turned down and the very good air con switched on, but the heater stayed on all night. a

They boast a “A warm and friendly” team, and yes, when I made my request the air con was put on, but I’m not at ease environmentally with a heater and air con on at the same time.

But this is just a gripe – as a modern jive dance venue it is very unusual, and actually really good.  The dancers there are enthusiasts or beginners – and for once the claim about being a friendly club is true.   It is friendly, and it is good fun for a Wednesday evening.

One really nice touch is that they retain the notion of half an hour dancing between beginners and intermediate class, whereas some venues are now giving you just three songs to dance to.  The break between classes makes much more sense for beginners, and is a nice introduction to the evening for those who turn up at the end of the beginners session.

  • Air conditioning: 5 out of 5 – it works brilliantly, I just had to ask for it to be put on.
  • Atmosphere: 5 out of 5.  Not the atmosphere of the heaving big venue, but the atmosphere of people who are really happy to be there.
  • Do ladies ask men: 4 out of 5.  Yes they do.  I still have to do most of the asking, but yes, the ladies do ask.
  • Facilities: 4 out of 5 – the gents is in a slightly odd place, but that’s a detail.  The bar is right by the dance floor, and there is a separate room for beginners refresher course.
  • Free water: Yes.
  • Friendliness: 5 out of 5.   Everyone talks and there are no cliques
  • Location: 1 out of 5.  Deep in the heart of a modern housing estate, a long way off the road, and just one sign that is hard to read.  Actually it is not the location itself that is wrong, it is the total lack of decent signposting to give reassurance.
  • Music: 5 out of 5
  • Parking: 5 out of 5.  For the numbers the parking is fine.
  • Space: 5 out of 5 – although if the numbers really did go up there would be a problem.
  • Venue overall: 4 out of 5.

Bedford Corn Exchange

Corn Exchange

St Pauls Square, Bedford, Bedfordshire, MK40 1SL

The first time I ever went dancing at the Bedford Corn Exchange I vowed never to go there again.  It was so hot that after 15 minutes I could hardly breath.

Since then they have sorted out the air conditioning, and although the numbers mean that it can get warm, it is never so unbearable as it used to be.  And indeed in the last year or so numbers have become more reasonable, which means more room to dance, and fewer problems with the temperature.

The Corn Exchange is a fully modernised venue with decent facilities and a very large (by jive standards) dance floor.  Ceroc hire it about once a month just for dances.  There are no classes held here.

There’s a big seated area at the rear of the hall facing the stage, and a row of single seating along the other sides, except where the bar is situated (it faces directly onto the dance floor).   It is a popular venue, and I’ve never once had a situation in which I couldn’t find someone to dance with.

Yes of course there are some couples doing their thing, but they don’t get in the way, and actually some of them are worth watching.  It can on occasion get a bit too crowded but most of the time it is good.  But if you don’t like a packed dance floor, then either get there early or stay til the end.

  • Air conditioning: 5 out of 5 – no fans needed, it is a modern system and it works.
  • Atmosphere: 5 out of 5.  I’m sure you could do something else to improve the atmosphere but I can’t think what it would be.
  • Do ladies ask men: 4 out of 5.  Yes they do.  I still have to do some asking, and it is not totally equal (which would warrant the 5 out of 5 mark) but yes, the ladies do ask.
  • Facilities: 4 out of 5 – they don’t do food on freestyle nights, while most places do, but I suspect the numbers are too great and they don’t have an obvious place to put it.
  • Free water: Yes at the bar.
  • Friendliness: 5 out of 5.  There are virtually no cliques – or if there are I just don’t bump into them.
  • Location: 5 out of 5.  Town centre, as all the Corn Exchanges are, of course.
  • Music: Between 3 and 4 out of 5.  I have been there on nights when the quality of the sound was poor, but generally it is ok.  Not the most varied music, even after 11pm they play the regular stuff, but it is always danceable.
  • Parking: 3 out of 5.  The large open air car park at the end of the one way system has gone but there is a multi-story: drive past the Corn Exchange with it on your right, come to the mini-roundabout, turn right, and immediately take the right hand lane to enter the multi-story.  There is always space – but make sure you arrive after 8pm, because tickets bought from that moment on are just £1 for the night – pay in the machine as you return.
  • Space: 5 out of 5
  • Venue overall: 4 out of 5.  Getting towards five.

Addison Centre, Kempston, Bedford

Addison Howard Park
Addison Centre, Hillgrounds Road
Kempston, Bedford, MK42 8PN
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Like every other venue it seems “we are known as the friendliest dance venue in your area.”   Oh come on guys, there must be something better you can say.  I mean, there’s a billion words out there you could use, and some of them can even be used twice.
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This is a Ceroc Central venue, and like all the locations used in this franchise, it works well, largely I think because of the hard work of the franchise holder.
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And yes it is friendly, although not the friendliest.   I’m beginning to think that this has something to do with the way in which the seating is arranged, and the number of people who attend in relation to the maximum possible.
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Anyway, I’ll develop that theory over time.  For now, this venue has a seating area in a zone off the dance floor, leading to the bar.  It is usually just about adequate for a dance evening, and so I guess adequate for a club night too.
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I’ve not been to a club night there, just dances – including a summer BBQ for charity, and all have been good fun.   There is a good number of dancers but never once have I found the dance floor too crowded.
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Cooling is by big fans, or by opening the doors onto the playing fields and grasslands beyond – which occasionally result in a gale blowing through the whole place as a few overheated individuals try and cool down.
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But overall it is a good place to dance.  Not as packed with practised pairs showing off their technique and fancy clothes, as you get at Bedford Corn Exchange, but a good mix of dancers who like to share and enjoy.  The free food is nice too.
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The only thing I didn’t like was the dance with a stranger game they once played on a charity evening.  It just cuts people out of the dancing and you are left around watching not necessarily good dancers.
  • Air conditioning: 2 out of 5 – big fans, and in summer open the doors.  But it can get very hot, and people do move out into the car park which is adjacent to try and cool off.
  • Atmosphere: 3 out of 5.  The hall isn’t designed for atmosphere sadly.   It’s not bad but it is not brilliant.
  • Do ladies ask men: 4 out of 5.  Although it is not super lively, there seems to be a tradition of asking.  Of course some sit in the corner and wait, but many do ask.
  • Facilities: 4 out of 5 – maybe if the lighting was more adventurous that would do it.
  • Free water: No.  20p for a glass.
  • Friendliness: 4 out of 5.  There are some cliques and tight nit friends groups but not many
  • Location: 3 out of 5.  Just off the main road out of Bedford, but I got hopelessly lost even with a sat nav the first time.   Once you turn off the main road at the traffic lights turn immediate right, then you are there.
  • Music: 4 out of 5
  • Parking: 5 out of 5 large car park right outside.  Never seen it full, but if it were, that would indeed be a problem as there is nowhere else nearby.
  • Space: 5 out of 5 – what is needed is more people there not more space.
  • Venue overall: 4 out of 5

Hertfordshire: Letchworth

 

The Spirella Ballroom

Bridge Road
Letchworth Garden City
Hertfordshire
SG6 4ET
Most dance venues have you dancing on the ground floor.  At the Spirella Building you are on the fourth floor.
It’s a modern venue, with a gentleman at a desk on reception, lifts up to the fourth floor, and a modern hall (being refurbished in January 2014) with a stage at one end and a bar at the other.
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That’s it really – the hall is a lot less interesting that one might have imagined given the nature of the building and the swishness of the entrance, but it serves its purpose.
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Outside the carpark is more than adequate, and the whole location is only about five to ten minutes drive from the point where the A1 becomes the A1M (and of course vice versa if you are heading north).
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This venue is run by Ceroc Central so there’s the usual smoothness of production and organisation.  Dances on some fridays (about once a monthy) and a monday night dance club following the usual format.
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It’s not the most inspiring of venues, nor the best crowd in the Ceroc Central region, but it works.
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  • Air conditioning: 3 out of 5 – it can get warmish, but never excessively hot.
  • Atmosphere: 3 out of 5.  Somehow it never seems to take off in the way that St Neots (for example) can do.   It seems to get to a point, and then stop – there is no leap to that final level of excitement.
  • Do ladies ask men:  3 out of 5.  Yes they do – up to a point.  But only up to a point.
  • Facilities: 4 out of 5.  The bar is small at the end of the hall, but they cope very well and there never seems to be a queue.  The only things you can complain about are that the wine is either large or small (nothing in between) and the water comes in very tiny plastic cups.  Are the large ones really that much more expensive?  In the end most of us just take two cups.
  • Free water: Yes – see note above.
  • Friendliness: 2 out of 5 – it should be, because it is Ceroc Central, but it just isn’t.  Maybe it something about living in Letchworth.
  • Location: 4 out of 5.  It’s within a collection of roads and roundabouts, of the A1/A1M interchange.
  • Music: 3 out of 5
  • Parking: 5 out of 5.  On site, never full
  • Space:  3 out of 5. It does get crowded on dance nights.  
  • Venue overall: 3 out of 5

Leicestershire: Melton Mowbray

Run by Want2Dance this is a small club run in rooms above a pub in Melton Mowbray at  Royal British Legion, Keswick House, Thorpe End, Melton Mowbray, LE13 1RB

The club runs on Wednesday evenings, and also runs occasional dances.  From time to time the Wednesday event is given over to a dance, rather than the normal dance format.

It’s a small venue held over a bar, with a regular dedicated group of dancers, following the usual format most of the time.  The two dance instructors are friendly and clearly enjoying what they do, and there’s a warm response from those who attend.  The club has its regulars, but new faces appear regularly.   If the huge halls that Ceroc uses on occasion are a bit intimidating for you, then this could serve your purpose much more readily.

One nice touch is that although the music contains some of the regulars, it doesn’t always stick to that.  When the DJ realised my interest in a particular artist, he made sure that each time I turned up I got one of my favourite songs. A nice touch.

  • Air conditioning: 5 out of 5 – I have never felt hot there – there must be an air con system at work behind the scenes I guess, but I am not sure how and where it is.
  • Atmosphere: 3 out of 5.  This is homely rather than vibrant and exciting – it all depends on the sort of venue you like.
  • Do ladies ask men: 2 out of 5.   Yes they do, but in my early days at the club I did all the asking.  But then I was an outsider coming into a local club.  But for those who regularly attend I do think you do get to know your favourite dancers.
  • Facilities: 4 out of 5.  The bar downstairs is part of a large drinking area, so they have everything you might need.
  • Free water: Yes
  • Friendliness: 4 out of 5 – no one came rushing up to greet me as a newbie, but I wasn’t in any way excluded.  One night everyone had cake for a birthday celebration.  A nice touch.
  • Location: 4 out of 5. Town centre nearby Macdonalds (if that’s your idea of fun).
  • Music: 4 out of 5
  • Parking: 1 out of 5.  There’s no car park as such – we parked in a residential street three minutes away, so you might have to do a little bit of searching.  But it is not a busy area so you will quickly find something.
  • Space:  3 out of 5.  While the numbers are small it is perfectly adequate and they seem to stay at a reasonable level most of the time.
  • Venue overall: 4 out of 5

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.

Rugby Indian Centre

Indian Centre,

Edward Street, Rugby, Warwickshire, CV21 2EZ

It’s the only dance venue I know which has a door coming off the main dance floor which says, “Temple”.

And it’s a nice enough venue.  But it has some problems.  When I first wrote a review of the club I said that itsonly problem is that on some occasions with its Friday night dances it can become so packed that it almost gets to be dangerous.  Now I would say that its problem is that sometimes at dances the numbers there are so small that it is hard to find enough dancers to last the evening.

Plus at the Thursday night club events the numbers can often best be described as modest.

There’s a decent on-site carpark, although on very busy dance nights that can get full, but much of it is on a slope, so do make sure your handbrake works.

One bonus they have is a really positive and caring lady on the door who not only knows people’s names, but also cares very much about the club.  When the lines for a class get long, she’s out there making sure that the man or woman coming off the end of the last line finds the way back to the start of the first one.

But there are two downsides.  One is that on occasion the toilets can be smelly, and the other is that the club will not abide by the requirements of the licensing act and offer free water.  Their excuse is that one can get it from the kitchen.  But this means a) finding the kitchen, b) finding the light, and c) having a container into which to pour the tap water.

It also went through a series of events in which the fire doors were blocked.  Visits from the local fire officer eventually sorted this out, but not straight away, which was most alarming.

Certainly the crowd is friendly, and all told it’s a decent enough venue except when allowed to get horribly overcrowded for a dance night.

 

  • Air conditioning: 3 out of 5
  • Atmosphere: Varies between 1 out of 5 and 5 out of 5.  It is currently going through a low period because of low numbers.
  • Do ladies ask men: 3 out of 5.  Yes – a certain standoffishness can be seen but by no means the worst.
  • Facilities: 3 out of 5.  Toilets have array of accoutrements, bar is generally big enough, and there is a spare room for food and drink on dance nights.  But there was a long period in which the ladies were complaining a lot about the faciliites.
  • Free water: No.
  • Friendliness: 3 out of 5
  • Location: 3 out of 5.  On a housing estate – no good without a car unless you live close by.
  • Music: 4 out of 5
  • Parking: 4 out of 5
  • Space: 5 out of 5 out of five at the moment.
  • Venue overall: 2 out of 5 – the history and the continuing refusal to offer free tap water in breach of the Licensing Act is a major concern.

 

 

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

St Ives, Dance Excess.

St Ives, Dance Excess.

The Corn Exchange, The Pavement, St Ives PE27 5AD

Beware the web site – because of the over the top design you can’t actually copy anything from it – which maybe is their idea but which makes life annoying if you want to cut and paste the address or anything like that to send on to a friend.

They also insist on writing everything IN BLOCK CAPITALS which makes it incredibly hard to read once you get into the second line.  I think that a designer has been having them on.

What they do is have a club in the normal format on Monday nights, and Friday night freestyles.   This puts them in direct competition with Ceroc at St Neots which also has Friday night gigs, and there have even been some occasions on which Dance XS and Ceroc Central have both been running events on the same Friday night in St Ives!

I’ve heard each side blame the other for the clash, but it seems that in 2014 Ceroc is pulling out of St Ives, which is a shame because the dance hall they used is a sensation and well worth a long journey to go there and enjoy.

But back to Dance XS.  It’s an independent club in a smart venue, which has undergone a total overhaul in recent years.  The only problem they have is that the turnout is modest.  Those who are there are always friendly and jolly, and the Friday night freestyles do get a decent turnout of better dancers – and the food at 11pm is nice.

So if you want a smaller quieter club where you’ll soon get to know everyone, and where everyone is friendly, this is great.  The hall is fine, the air con good, and for the classes, the teacher brings in some unusual and unexpected moves.

Car parking in the immediate vicinity can be difficult, but there is a larger carpark only a few minutes walk away.

There’s no bar however.  Coffee, tea and tapwater free.

  • Air conditioning: 5 out of 5
  • Atmosphere: 3 out of 5.  Friendly but not what you would call buzzing.
  • Do ladies ask men: 4 out of 5.  It’s a smaller crowd, so there’s a lot of asking, and newcomers are always welcomed.
  • Facilities: 5 out of 5.  It’s very modern, very smart throughout.
  • Free water: Yes.
  • Friendliness: 5 out of 5
  • Location: 5 out of 5.  Centre of town.
  • Music: 4 out of 5
  • Parking: 4 out of 5
  • Space: 5 out of 5
  • Venue overall: 5 out of 5

 

Peterborough – Parkway

Parkway Sports and Social Club

Maskew Ave., Peterborough, Cambs PE1 2AS

The first thing to say about this venue is that if you don’t know the area, it can be hard to find.   It is on a business and industrial estate which at night (especially in winter) can seem not just deserted but also spooky and unwelcoming.

A variety of car businesses, Kwik Fit, Halfords,,taxi firms and a PC company undoubtedly bring the place to life by day, but by night its grim.

Worse, I’ve used two different sat nav systems to find the location of the club.  One told me I had arrived when I reached a roundabout on the main road in and out of Peterborough, the other took me to the right road, but I was totally unable to find the club from there.   What Ceroc, who operate the venue, need to do is provide a very detailed map showing exactly where the centre is.  Maybe their site contains that information but I certainly can’t find it.

Just to add to the confusion I think Maskew Ave runs both left and right off the main roundabout, so that can be confusing too.  If heading into Peterborough from the ring road turn right.  Coming out of town, turn left at the roundabout.

I did however make it, bearing in mind Ceroc’s claim the club has a “great atmosphere…” and provides an “unforgettable experience… in the lovely city of Peterborough.”

I’m sorry but I have to disagree… sometimes.  I’ve been quite a few times now and never once did I find a “great” atmosphere although on occasion it has been good.

Part of the problem is that there is a regular clientèle who dance with each other.  It’s not a huge number, but then it’s not a very big venue, and so getting to know anyone can be hard as they are already in their own social groups.

But persevere and it is possible to get good dances and even make a few friends… you just have to work at it.   What this venue doesn’t do, and indeed what most venues don’t ever do, is say to the regulars, “To keep this venue alive and growing we need to welcome new dancers – not just beginners but also people who are experienced and who are trying us out for the first time.   So please, if you see a face you’ve not seen before, do ask him or her to dance.  Just one dance a night with a new face… it will make all the difference.

As for the lovely city of Peterborough, this might technically be a reality in Peterborough (I’m really not sure if it is) but in truth this is an out of town industrial and business estate.  The “lovely city” comment suggests that it is in the pedestrianized area in the heart of the city with its cafes and bars, the theatre and the cathedral.  In terms of atmosphere it is 100 light years away.

In my original review I wrote that there’s more atmosphere on the moon.  That’s not right, but coming in on your own from the outside, you have to expect to work at getting dances.

I’d congratulate the club for putting on the only Christmas Eve dance anywhere in the area in 2013 – but the turnout was modest in the extreme, and once again it was a case of little groups of friends huddled together and it just didn’t work.   But 10 out of 10 for trying, and maybe other venue will take up the cause.

If you can push yourself forward, fine.  If you like to be invited, maybe better try somewhere else.   I still go sometimes – but then I do go around and ask for dances.

  • Air conditioning: 4 out of 5
  • Atmosphere: 2 out of 5
  • Do ladies ask men: 1 out of 5.
  • Facilities: 4 out of 5.  It’s got a bar, chairs, tables, a stage, and the loos are clean..
  • Free water: Yes – although they did charge for a short time.  They don’t now.
  • Friendliness: 1 out of 5
  • Location: 0 out of 5
  • Music: 4 out of 5
  • Parking: 5 out of 5 – although it can take a moment or two to find it, but when you do (just keep going til you can’t go further, and turn left in the car park).
  • Space: 2 out of 5 – it is small and could easily get crowded
  • Venue overall: 3 out of 5 – if you recognise you have to make the effort.

 

 

Leicestershire: Birstall

Want2Dance, Birstall

Birstall Social club, Wanlip Lane, Birstall, LE4 4JS

I decided to take the club’s bold website claim that “You are assured of a warm welcome.”   So, not knowing anyone who went to the club, and having no connection with the area I went to their Halloween night dance, just to see.

And yes, they lived up to their promise.  The lady at the door, who of course didn’t know me from the Man in the Moon, gave me a smile, welcomed me in, and I walked in and parked myself.

Getting a drink was fun.  The club is an old Working Men’s Club with the main bar occupied by a group of resolute drinkers, each with a pint, each looking the glum side of solemn, and each not saying a word.

As for the barman, well.  I ordered a Merlot.  They didn’t have one.   So I said, “any red wine”.  Eventually they found a small bottle.  The barman unscrewed the top, in case I couldn’t cope, plonked it down and told me the price.

I looked at him.

He looked at him.

I looked at him.

He eventually said, “You want a glass or something?”

I said that with a red wine, yes, by and large, a glass would be the sort of thing that I would enjoy.

He plonked it down.

The whole thing was more hilarious than annoying, especially in the context of the evening which was great fun.

The club was not packed, but I worked my way along the rows asking each lady in turn to dance, and then once that was done, going back and asking the best for another and another.  And some of them began to ask me.

What it would have been like had I sat on my own and waited, I don’t know, but doing it my way this was a good night out.  Lots of people in fancy dress costume, and they welcomed in the stranger like a long lost soul.

It’s not a huge dance area, but it was fine for the numbers that were there on the night I attended.

The DJ was interesting – she chose slow numbers at the start, and gradually took the tempo up – an interesting way of doing it.

There was free food too – a really good choice of the usual plus a few extra bits.   All in all a super night.

So why do I not go back more often?

Simply because the club night runs from 8 to 10.30pm, which means the amount of time one would get for a dance would be very limited if one is travelling a long distance.  So I’ll stick to the weekend dance nights.

  • Air conditioning: 3 out of 5 – I didn’t get over hot but don’t know how they kept the temperature down.
  • Atmosphere: 5 out of 5
  • Do ladies ask men: 2 out of five. Not bad, given that I was a stranger.
  • Facilities: 2 out of 5.  It’s an old working men’s club, so the facilities are basic.
  • Free water: Yes.
  • Friendliness: 5 out of 5
  • Location: 2 out of 5.  Residential area – use a sat nav if you don’t know the area.
  • Music: 5 out of 5
  • Parking: 1 out of 5.  Difficult – only a tiny number of places outside, and it is just a case of driving around the local roads trying to find somewhere.  Maybe I just went down the wrong roads.
  • Space: 2 out of 5.  OK for the numbers there on the night I attended
  • Venue overall: 3 out of 5

Northants: Wellingborough

The Tithe Barn, Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, NN8 1AH

Around 2008/9 Wellingborough boasted two nights of Ceroc a week – on a monday and a wednesday.  It also hosted free styles that we so crowded you sometimes couldn’t even get onto the dance floor and were forced to dance on the carpet around the edge.

Such days are long gone.  The Railwayman’s club which hosted the events was in a desperate state of non-repair, the local users of the club were decidedly unfriendly to the outsiders who came to dance, and cholera injections were recommended for anyone seeking to use the toilets.  Eventually it went bust and the building is now being pulled down.

After a while the club moved to the Embankment, but it too had multiple problems, and by now the audience was in decline.   Eventually the Embankment night stopped, and Wellingborough Ceroc came to an end.

After such a tale of woe, opening up again in the town takes some bravery, but that is what happened in late 2013.   The new venue – The Tithe Barn – however is small, and not easy to find unless you know exactly where you are going.

Not only is it small it is also a long thin shape which doesn’t make for a conducive dance hall.  But it could work – if the numbers went up to a decent level.   However the last few times I have been, this is far from the case.    Meaning there might only be four or five competent dancers to dance with.

Just how far and how fast the new venture declined was shown when one night the two taxi dancers rapidly changed out of their gear and were off at 10pm – hardly a good way to make people feel that the venue was on the up.

They have had a freestyle there – I’m told the numbers for that were ok – but otherwise it is a venue to use if you are happy to dance with one regular partner and leave it at that.  Going on your own is not really much of an option.

The people who are there are friendly, and the teacher and DJ welcomed me back like an old friend which was nice as I hadn’t been to one of their venues for a couple of years.  It is just that there are not enough people there to make it worthwhile.

 Parking is round the back via the Morrisons car park, but there are no signs (indeed there aren’t any signs to the Morrison’s car park).  You are expected to know!  The Tithe Barn is off the Morrisons car park and that also is not signed.
  • Air conditioning: None –the big fans are there, but hardly needed when the audience is so small.
  • Atmosphere: 1 out of 5
  • Do ladies ask men: 2 out of 5.   But then there are so few present after the intermediate class that they have to.
  • Facilities: 1 out of 5.  No bar, and few seats in the dance area.  Seats in an ante-room.
  • Free water: Yes.
  • Friendliness: 3 out of 5
  • Location: 5 out of 5.  Town centre which is good – as long as you know where it is and can find your way to it.
  • Music: 4 out of 5
  • Parking: 5 out of 5 if you can find your way to Morrisons and then into the Tithe Barn park.
  • Space: 1 out of 5, although to be fair, there has been more than enough space for the tiny number of people there.
  • Venue overall: 1 out of 5.  If they could treble the numbers it would be 3/5.

Kettering, The Athletics Club

Kettering (The Athletics Club)

This is the replacement venue for Ceroc when the main Kettering venue of Wiksteed Park is not available.

The problem is that although Wicksteed is a really nice venue with a decent floor (much of the time) and plenty of space, and plenty of parking, The Athletics Club to the north of the town is awful.

The dance floor is small, the bar charges £1 for a drink of water and not surprisingly most of the regulars at Wicksteed will have nothing to do with it.

So the audience is made up of beginners, and those desperate for a night out at any cost, plus a few of the regulars who will brave the wider world and go, because that is what they do on a Thursday night.

One of the quaint items to note is that the regulars at the Athletics Club who are there for the drinking, bingo or whatever is on, will often come and peek through the door to gawp.  There’s no harm done, as long as you don’t mind.  But none of them is what you might call athletic.

If you are learning modern jive, then its worth attending to keep your learning process running when Ceroc are thrown out of Wicksteed, but otherwise this is a venue to be avoided.

The crew for Kettering has recently changed, so the music may be worth a higher rating.

  • Air conditioning: 1 out of 5 – just the fans, and they are not really that good when the place gets very busy.
  • Atmosphere: 0 out of 5.   It’s run down, there’s no investment, it’s crumbling.
  • Do ladies ask men:  2 out of 5.
  • Facilities: 2 out of 5.  There is a bar, but beware the water issue.
  • Free water: Absolutely not, what do you think we are, a charity?  £1.00
  • Friendliness: 1 out of 5
  • Location: 3 out of 5.  It’s on the northern outskirts of Kettering, on the main road to Corby.
  • Music: 3 out of 5
  • Parking: 0 out of 5.  The club carpark is cramped and small, so can often be full.  Street parking is allowed but there are terraced houses either side of all the roads, so sometime parking on the streets can be a long way away.
  • Space: 0 out of 5.  It really is small
  • Venue overall: 1 out of 5

Cripps, Northampton

Cripps Centre, Northampton General Hospital

Ceroc Passion have tried a number of venues for Northampton, and all of them sadly have some problems probably because of the desire of Ceroc to keep their venue fees to a minimum.

The Cripps Centre is part of Northampton General Hospital – built as a social environment for staff at the hospital by the Cripps foundation – a charitable trust that also built a local school.

Today however the Centre is a sad affair, desperately in need of an upgrade.  Queuing to get in can often involve standing on a staircase, (very unsafe), the bar service can be slow, although cheery, and although there are tables and chairs down one side, they are packed in so tightly it is hard to squeeze in to take a seat.

But despite all this the attendance in recent years has been good to high, perhaps because there is no problem with parking – one of the huge hospital carparks is available to dancers free of charge.  (They used to have a young man standing on the gate handing out tickets to dancers, but that is now abandoned.   The car park at night is empty, so why bother?  But do make sure you choose the car park by the Cripps.  In the other car parks you’ll end up paying.  And sign posting to the car park you need is dodgy to say the least.)

Also part of the explanation for the large numbers might be that the lessons do appeal to many, with more advanced classes being offered alongside the standard beginners and intermediate sessions.   However some of the intermediate sessions themselves can  be  phenomenally complicated when compared with that which happens in most other venues, and this can be a problem for many dancers.  (It all depends on who takes the lesson).

Typically dances are held on Saturdays round about once a month, and sometimes paraded as the Cripps Labyrinth – which just means that there are several corridors with odd rooms in them playing different types of music – often to tiny groups of dancers.  It sounds good, but really its just the one room.

In terms of modernity the Saints venue at Jimmy’s End (a room within the Northampton Rugby Club ground) is much more modern, but suffers from posts in the middle of the dance floor.

  • Air conditioning:  2 out of 5 – just big fans, and in desperation they might open the doors to the fire exits.
  • Atmosphere: 3 out of 5.  Somehow it never really seems to take off.
  • Do ladies ask men: 2 out of 5.  As you enter there is a long row of chairs directly facing the dance floor on the left.  A lot of ladies seem to sit here and just wait.  I’ve no idea why they don’t get up, but basically they don’t.
  • Facilities: 2 out of 5.
  • Free water: No – usually 20p
  • Friendliness: 3 out of 5.  However freestyles can suffer from an influx of couples who always dance together and who dance near the edge just to show off their routines.  They take up space and concede that space to no man, or woman.
  • Location: 4 out of 5.  It’s close to the town centre, but still quite a walk through the hospital if you don’t have a car.
  • Music: 4 out of 5
  • Parking: 5 out of 5
  • Space: 3 out of 5.  On occasions it can get very crowded indeed.
  • Venue overall: 3 out of 5 but declining. It desperately needs a face lift.

 

Radcliffe on Trent, Notts

Grange Hall,

Vicarage Lane, Radcliffe on Trent, Nottingham, NG12 2FB.

This is a Ceroc venue.

I attended this venue with friends for the first time on 4 January 2013 for a Saturday night dance, arriving at 8.30pm and the place was … packed solid.   There was nowhere to put one’s coat in the dance hall, no seats to be had, and no room on the dance floor.  I wondered at the time whether this number of people in the hall was acceptable under health and safety regs.

Speaking with one of the organisers my group was told that this level of activity was only to be found on this first event each January, and that others through the rest of the year were nowhere near as full.

Speaking to friends, some said that they were refused entry when arriving at 9pm, so I guess the centre does have an awareness of its limitations and responsibilties.

Oh and there was also a long queue at the bar, although the water (when I spotted it) was free to one side.  Good for them.

So I entered the room, plonked my gear in one corner, and within five seconds was asked to dance.   Given that I had never been to the venue before, and was utterly unknown there, apart from by my three friends with whom I travelled that was not a bad start.

And it carried on like that.   There were always ladies around looking for dances and everyone accepted my offer of a dance – often with a lot of friendly chat along the way.

As the night wore on I found the spaces in the corners where one could express oneself a little more, and the ladies who were exquisite dancers… and yes there were four or five in that highest of categories.

Despite the room not being big enough for the numbers, the temperature did not rise as much as I had feared – not least because doors onto the outside world were opened.

So that was a few years ago.  What has happened since?

Basically, it is now almost always all ticket, which keeps the numbers under control and gives us all more space.   The bar idea was dropped in 2017, but a plentiful supply of food is still on offer for free.

The music continues to be quirky, which I said later in the original review, but I find that fun.  OK there are some pieces I won’t dance to – but then even I (!!!) can’t dance every day from 8pm to midnight, so why not have a few quirks in there.

Parking: there is a car park but it gets full very quickly, and people do park on the pavement – but within 50 yards on the main road there is usually plenty of parking space.  I have arrived at 9.30 and parked on a perfectly safe road with high level lighting maybe 150 or 200 yards away.  Nothing wrong with a very modest walk.

 

  • Air conditioning:  0 out of 5 – there was none and it can get a little warm but these days with the numbers restricted by ticket only policies there is no problem with the fans, and if it is hot the doors are opened.
  • Atmosphere: 5 out of 5
  • Do ladies ask men: 5 out of 5.   Brilliant from the word go.  Maybe its my smile, charm and good looks but they haven’t always worked this well elsewhere.  Seriously I think it is the input of the franchise owner.
  • Facilities: 4 out of 5.  The bar is now closed, but there is an excellent resting area just beyond the dance hall where you can hat a chat, or just chill.
  • Free water: Yes.
  • Friendliness: 5 out of 5
  • Location: 4 out of 5.  Near the centre of the small town, up a side road
  • Music: 5 out of 5 – I like the quirky stuff.  If you want the same old same old every night, then there are lots of other Ceroc venues that offer this.
  • Parking: 3 out of 5.  Everyone pours into the small carpark next door, but really, there is nothing wrong with the street.  This is a small country town, not a metropolis with touring gangs of car thieves.
  • Space:  4 out of 5
  • Venue overall: 4 out of 5 – should be more given great friendliness of the natives.  Only loses out on the air con, really, and the fact that some people find the parking an issue.

Cambridgeshire: St Neots

The Priory Centre, St Neots

This is a Ceroc venue  which runs a Ceroc club night on Tuesdays, and dances about once a month on Fridays.

The hall is spacious, with seats round the edge, and doors that open onto a remarkable terrace walkway above the river.  A beautiful place to stand and cool down watching a beautiful view, except in the depths of winter.

But the proximity of the water can mean that the shortest way to the venue if heading south down the A1, can often be flooded during heavy rainful or the aftermath of snow.  There’s no simple way around the flooding other than travelling further south down the A1 and coming into the town from the southern end.

There’s plenty of parking in a supermarket car park 100 yards away which is an excellent idea.  The supermarket has its paid for carpark in the day, the dancers get it free at night.  The only problem is that the walk between the car park and the venue can take you down a walkway in which, from about 11pm onwards, some local young people sit, doing their thing.  I’ve never been challenged or made to feel uncomfortable by them, but (perhaps a sad reflection on myself) if alone I now take the longer walk around.

What makes the club work so well, in my view is that it is run by the local franchise owners, and they are there almost every night running the club.  One teaches and one is on the door.  They are friendly warm and inviting, and so the club is also.  Can’t remember a single occasion on which either at a dance or the club, it wasn’t a good night.

For the Friday night dance evenings there is often also a second room  playing blues – it usually has about 10 or 20 enthusiasts – a good place to cool down, although the heat in the main room is nowhere near as bad as in some places.  Otherwise dances start at 8pm and the numbers start to pick up after 8.30pm.

Also the Friday night free food is excellent.

  • Air conditioning: 2 out of 5 – big fans, and in summer open the doors onto the river.
  • Atmosphere: 5 out of 5
  • Do ladies ask men: 4 out of 5.  It is a vibrant lively place, so you have to be resolutely sitting in the corner not to be asked.
  • Facilities: 4 out of 5 – all that is missing is a better cooling system.  Have been there when they have decorated the whole of the inside like a pavilion.  Nice touch
  • Free water: No.  50p for the first plastic glass of tap water.  Then if you have managed to keep hold of it, you can go back and get top ups.
  • Friendliness: 5 out of 5
  • Location: 5 out of 5.  Close to the town centre, right on the river.  Watch the swans in the summer and the ice flows in the winter.
  • Music: 5 out of 5
  • Parking: 4 out of 5
  • Space: 4 out of 5
  • Venue overall: 4 out of 5