Dance popular at Tamahere

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With calloused hands and the smell of cigarette smoke still clinging to his Swanndri, the young man seemed out of place as he stood in the Tamahere Hall on a cold Tuesday night.

It was 6pm and people were slowly dribbling into the large building. They were there to learn Ceroc, a form of modern jive dancing.

The man didn’t want to give his name, his reluctance perhaps due to his desire to maintain a certain reputation among those who know him – or maybe because he is, like many other Kiwi blokes, just a little shy.

Whatever it was, he stood in the hall keenly watching those more experienced in Ceroc as he waited for the beginners’ section of the dance class to start, reports the Waikato Times in a feature on the popular Addiction Dance classes

His reason for being at the dance class was simple: the closest he has come to dancing is holding a bottle of beer as he tentatively swayed to music.

He reckons that isn’t exactly the best way to meet ladies and he’s hoping to gain the confidence to ask a woman to dance, which will increase his chance of finding a partner.

In this context, his appearance among the mostly middle-age men and women makes sense.

Ceroc is, it seems, a popular pastime for many in the region.

The class is one of several offered throughout the week by Will and Tina Karl, a couple who became dance teachers after they fell in love with dancing themselves. Four years ago, they started Addiction Dance, which specialises in providing Ceroc dance classes in the Waikato.

Interest in their classes has grown and they have several hundred names on their database and at least 200 people turning up to classes in the Tamahere Community Centre, and at Te Awamutu and Rukuhia.

At Tamahere, the first section class kicks off to the Solomon Burke classic Cry to Me and, by 6.30pm, there are 17 people taking part in the session for the more advanced dancers.

When Will calls an end to the advanced section of the class, the experienced participants take a seat and gulp down a well-deserved glass of water.

Five minutes later, Bruno Mars croons from the sound system and Will signals that he and his wife are ready to start the next part of the evening: Ceroc for beginners.

The unnamed man, who has been standing near the doorway with a friend, takes his place in the centre of the room, forming a circle with the other men who have gathered. They all are waiting for a woman to join them.

There are enough women for every man to start with a partner, but numbers fluctuate as people continue to enter the hall throughout the evening.

Many of those entering the building carry little cloth bags, which hold their dancing shoes.

New members are easy to spot as they coyly enter and lurk on the fringe, watching uncertainly.

But once they join the circle, most forget about their inhibitions as they try to remember the steps, turns and when to pirouette.

The Karls start off slowly and build up the night’s lesson, move by move. Every so often, Will calls out and the women rotate one place, creating new couple combinations.

Susan Trodden is a mother of two young children. She has been attending the dance classes for the last couple of months and says she enjoys learning in a safe and friendly environment.

“A lot of people come by themselves and you can come in as a total beginner and learn a move that will get you through a whole night if you go to a party.

“I came along by myself at first, but since joining up, I have made a lot of friends. I wanted to be able to do something for myself, so this is my thing. I get a babysitter and come along and really enjoy myself.”

Susan says if people can’t find babysitters, they can bring their kids with them.

A party is held each month, where people can put into practise the moves they have learnt at the classes.

Susan says it is always a wonderful night.

“The hall is all decorated up, so it is like going to a ball with the lights and music. And the women are all dressed up.

“My mother likens it to the Starlight Ballroom, which used to operate back in the 1950s.

“It is alcohol-free, because the idea is that it is a safe environment for anyone to come along. A lot of people come by themselves. It is always a fantastic evening.”

When the beginner class at the Tamahere Hall comes to an end about 8pm, the unnamed man has five new steps to add to his repertoire.

He walks over to his mate and nudges him slightly with his elbow, asking him how he found it.

The two men discuss the moves before heading over to Will to ask him for his advice.

Afterwards, as they are heading towards their car in the carpark, the man turns back and calls out: “See you next week.”

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