So, a non-programming post for a change.

I love dancing. Especially, the Argentine Tango. I have been having lessons in public classes at the wonderful Mirrors Dance (http://www.mirrorsdance.com) for a couple of years now, and I would commend learning to dance to anyone, of any age.

I guess I’ve come to dancing relatively late on. My interest was probably kindled over the last few years through family watching of ‘Strictly Come Dancing’, the television show were celebrities team up with professional dance partners and train up through a knock-out competition until the grand final where one couple end up as champions.

Even then I didn’t seriously consider going to dancing lessons. That first step would be a big one for a bloke to take. However, in Autumn 2010 I started a new job at Tesco Dotcom. To my surprise they were running a “Tesco does Strictly” competition to raise money for their charity of the year – ten members of staff each paired with a professional dancer for a single night of competition.

Autumn 2011 they ran the event again and I applied but didn’t get in. But I decided that if I’d got the guts to try for that competition, I could go along to a local introductory class. I’d just had an email about Mirrors Dance running an introductory Argentine Tango class and that had always been my favourite dance to watch – all fire and passion and drama – so I signed up. It seemed almost like eight weeks of learning how to stand and walk (which was surprisingly difficult), but I enjoyed it and started going to the public classes in 2012.

My co-ordination isn’t great, and I’m a bit overweight which throws out my balance and my posture, but I figured that it was worth persevering and the teacher, Trudi Youngs, was an excellent motivator.

Anyway, come Autumn 2012 Tesco decided to run its charity event again, and I applied again – and got accepted! Gulp! Unfortunately I’d only had one lesson before my assigned professional had to pull out. It seemed like that was the end, but I got in touch with Trudi and wondered whether she would be prepared to take on the commitment of training me for the competition. Happily she agreed, and between Christmas and New Year we trained in snow and sunshine in church halls across Hertfordshire; an Argentine Tango set to the music ‘Roxanne’ from Moulin Rouge.

Alex and Trudi Argentine Tango

Alex and Trudi Argentine Tango (photo by John Hardwick)

We danced on the evening of January 25th at the Emirates Stadium. To my everlasting amazement we came joint top of the judges vote (39 out of 40!) and top in the audience vote. We won the glitterball (and along the way about £28,000 was raised for Cancer Research by the event).

Since then I’ve kept on dancing at Mirrors Dance. I’ve made some great friends there, I’ve done a couple of dancing exams and hope to continue doing them as long as I’m able – I’d love to see how far I can take it.

So, in the spirit of this blog, what have I learned from this experience?

  • I’ve learned that it is possible to do more than you think you can.
  • I’ve learned that it is good to occasionally step outside your comfort zone
  • I’ve learned that it is good to engage in physical challenges, and step outside the mental world (especially if your work revolves almost entirely around the mental world!)

So I want to give a shout out to Trudi Youngs and Mirrors Dance school – if you’re in their vicinity I can’t recommend them highly enough. If you are not lucky enough to be close to Hitchin, Hertfordshire, then look up a dance school near where you are.

You’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain. Keep Dancing!

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