Daily Archives: January 5, 2014

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.