Way back when I was a teenager I made a startling discovery…girls were attracted to guys who could dance. Now, I need to make this very clear, we are not talking about ballroom but whatever was de rigueur in the “disco”. Having a healthy interest in the opposite sex and a pretty good sense of rhythm in the intervening years between my teens and my twenties I taught myself how to Jive, Twist, Frug, Mash Potato, Funky Chicken, Latin Hustle and Lord knows how many other ludicrously named dance floor faves. The two things that became abundantly clear were that I have no inhibitions and yes, girls did like it.
Many years later I rarely “get on down” but sciatica and circumstances allowing I can still “shake a tail feather”. However, for some people dancing was not just an excuse to hook-up but a genuine love for an art form that embodies the intrinsic beauty and form of two people moving in synchronised fluid motion.
One such person is Jenni Kravitz.
From the age of five she studied ballet until at the advanced age of eleven she started to train in jazz and modern dance with the indomitable Arlene Phillips at the Dance Centre in London’s Convent Garden. She continued to train and perform until she got married at twenty one. Jenni realised that she was spending a lot of time dancing and knew that she would have to make a choice so understandably she chose her husband. As it transpired Jenni and her husband could not keep in step, the marriage failed and she went on to pursue her passion for dance.
Her passion remained sublimated for many years until some time in 2005 a friend started raving on about the new TV show “Strictly Come Dancing”. She tuned in and was immediately hooked, moreover the spark of “tripping the light fantastic”had been fanned and the flame had been re-ignited!
She started to search out dance studios and appropriate classes and encountered a common problematic theme – there were invariably far more women than men, so consequently the chances of finding a suitable dance partner were highly unlikely. The final straw came when, after finding a class she was happy to join, she decided to search out a proficient partner and take him along. On arrival she was informed that if she wanted to dance with the designated gentleman she would have to pay another membership fee. “Enough” she thought, “if I can’t find what I want, I’ll create it”. And so she set out to do so.
Her first priority was to find a source of capable male dancers and teachers. Now, how she actually managed to tap into this supply line is a bit of a secret which I promised not to divulge, all I can say is that outside of the UK many countries have an imbedded dance culture and many young men do visit the UK from these countries.
With her human resource established she then managed to acquire the use of some exceptional space to be used as studios in a moderately quiet backwater in the West End of London and in 2006 Simply Dancing Partners was launched. Like it says in the strap-line in “Field of Dreams”…if you build it they will come.
Some nine years later, Jenni (now 64) has turned her passion into a very viable business and she invited me along to view a couple of classes.
The first things you notice are that everybody looks exceedingly happy and that the dance partners, who are predominantly male are exceptionally “hunky”. Jenni’s “USP” is that every member has a partner at every lesson and although there was a majority of women there were also a few guys who had an equally attractive female tutor. Interestingly, there were a few couples who attended together learning to dance for a special occasion and they had a separate teacher who worked with them to ensure they both progressed at a similar level.
The age of the members was quite an eye opener too. About two thirds of the attendees were, in my estimation, over 50 and female but the rest ranged from twenties and up. Also it was fun to see that in many cases the older dancers were far more proficient and agile than their younger counterparts.
Simply Dancing Partners has been so successful that they also organise corporate events and team building activities for Blue Chip companies. Jenni and her team also helped re-introduce Tango Teas at the Waldorf Hotel. The future looks rosy too as there are talks in place to open a branch in California.
Courses are not cheap but then again if you want the very best, as in most things, it is worth paying a little extra. Most importantly dancing is a fantastic form of exercise and wonderful way of meeting new friends, so if you are in the “third age” and want to not just watch “Strictly” but feel a part of the action contact Jenni soon.
The irony of this story is that classes are so well attended that Jenni has to pay for her own private lessons…but at least she knows she is getting the very best!
or contact Jenni on 020 3648 0377