The JiveSwing Blog!

20 Year Partner Dance Anniversary !!

Wednesday, 16th September, 2015

I’ve been dancing for exactly 20 years today !!  Students always ask me the same questions, so here’s a few short-ish responses, leading up to 2001. :-)

So how did you start dancing?
After weeks of rejecting invitations, on Wednesday 20th September 1995, I was dragged along to a Ceroc dance class, at the Stoke Pub, in Guildford, by Debbie & Ralph Dalton. A few weeks later, they dragged me along to a Hangar Dance in Newbury (looking so non-vintage), followed by a band night in London, where I danced with Beckie (& Fred), who taught me my very first Swing Out  :-) That’s when I discovered Lindy Hop..

Joseph dancing with Norma Miller, at GNSH (Chazz in the background)

Before this, I was into Street Dance and the only partner dancing I’d seen, was Blues dancing, from a child, as my uncle and everyone did it, in my home town of Birmingham. I got the dance bug immediately and tried to convince as many of my friends, primarily Maggie Howell, Carol Lee to travel from Guildford to London, to dance with me and take classes. Eventually we had a team of around 15 – 20 people, which we called the ‘Guildford Gang’ and made the weekly pilgrimage to London

I’d go to the Casbah and Cricklewood with Mike Ellard, for Ceroc, The Place, for workshops with Ryan Francois, 100 club with Simon Selmon, but Jitterbugs on a Wednesday night, with Julie Oram and Porl Smith, which was my main night for Lindy Hop. Jitterbugs at Notre Dame, was THE Place to be back then, with DJ’s Pat the Kat, Terry Elliott and Tim’s Jumping Jive. :-) There was always shows at Christmas, with amazing performances, from the Jitterbug Jammers??

Around this time, I was approached by Angela Andrews to partner her in a performance, at Chat’s Palace, with Melvina Dunne and Martin Ellis. I was VERY nervous and afraid, but tried not to show it. This seriously catapulted my swing danced learning, as Angela attempted to whip my dancing into some kind of shape. :-) By 1998, I started travelling internationally to take workshops, primarily with Frankie Manning, Norma Miller, Rob & Diane, Ryan Francois and Steven Mitchell, who had a huge impact on my Jazz and social dancing technique.

Joseph Dancing with Jean Velous, in Italy.

How did you start JiveSwing?
In August 1996, I held a Birthday party in Farnborough, with some of my Ceroc (Modern Jive) friends, teachers and one Lindy Hop couple, Paula & Tony Levy. It was so amazing, I was encouraged to organise another event around Valentines Day, in Farnborough, with the help of friends Paul Kingston, Maggie, Sonia and Carol, where even more Jive and Swing dancers came, from London, Brighton, Bedfordshire and Northampton.  As I had lots of friends who did both jive and swing, I ran the events under the name Jive and Swing = JiveSwing . :-)  When I moved to the Essex/ Hertfordshire, I would continue to run 1 – 2 small events a year under the JiveSwing banner.

Frankie Manning presenting Joseph with the Strictly Swing, Trophy

When did you start teaching?
In 1996 and 1997 I won a few competitions and partnered several teachers, around the UK, primarily Linda Barker. I moved to Harlow, Essex in 1997 and shared a flat with some friends. After attending my first dance social there all alone with no friends in the area, I was immediately asked to teach in Cambridge and Letchworth by Phil Roberts, who was the main organiser in Hertfordshire & Cambridge, at the time. After copious folders of work and studying, I was sent to spend a week in London with friends Jason Tate, Marie and Maria, with a few follow up weekends,  as part of a teachers training program, taught by Janie Cronin and Angela. Within months, organisers had invited me to teach in London, Bedford, Cambridge, Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Southampton, Kent and more.. After a year, I was under the wing of Adam Nathanson, who helped me to realise my potential to grow. Since then I was invited to teach and perform at lots of events, such as Beach Boogie and the Party Weekender, which were huge back then. I had a handful of followers, that would partner me, back then, but it was common to meet your teaching demo/partner who was provided for you on the class night :-)

Joseph Dancing with Dawn Hampton

By 2002, I realised that I need to developed a regular teaching partner and was invited to teach my first international event, by Eric at the Winter Camp, in Upsalla, Sweden and Ann-Helene & Bernard, at the Pink City Festival, in Toulouse, France. It was so nervous, but all the training and experienced that I had gained, from regular classes saw me through. It all kept going since then, to bigger and better each year and I’ve travelled to around 30 different countries to teach and perform, live and on Television. :-)

Thanks to everyone who supported me..  

Huge thanks to all my JiveSwing family, some of whom have stood by me for over 15 years, to keep our local scene growing in Hertfordshire & Essex, along all my dance partners, who have assisted me over the years. :-)

I had no idea, that I was going to give up a very lucrative career in 2005, to pursue a passion and meet so many amazing people in my dance life. It’s been an journey. :-)