Dinner & Dance

On Saturday 13th February 2010

Members ready for dinner.
Guests get some line dancing instruction.
The dancers get to try a traditional dance step.
Line dancing proves popular.

After a small opinion poll some months ago, a dinner and dance was organised as this year’s winter regional event. Members preferred a sit down meal to a buffet and wanted some sort of entertainment but not necessarily a disco. So we recreated the “dancing through the decades” event that was so popular at the Mensa diamond anniversary celebrations in 2006.

Guests started arriving at the Charnwood Arms Hotel in Coalville, Leicestershire, and were soon mingling and making new friends. The hotel had offered an excellent room rate so many people decided to stay overnight which meant they could also take advantage of the good value wine list! We dined on soup, melon, chicken, beef, brie tart, apple pie and Eton mess before working off the calories with a little dancing.

My dance teacher and I taught basic steps of a number of dances and were delighted that the dance floor was packed throughout these mini lessons and that everyone joined in so enthusiastically whether they had danced before or not. We started with a basic waltz; first the men being shown their steps then the ladies. The fun started when couples joined up and tried dancing around the room. A few collisions but no injuries! Next came a progressive barn dance so that we all got to say hello to each other. Then followed some energetic cha cha cha and rock ‘n’ roll by which time we needed a short break for some liquid refreshment and to regain energy. Line dancing proved popular as no partners are required and the steps were easy to learn. So we did two dances. By this time we were impressed with the level of ability – and hip swaying - so added extra steps to the salsa. And finally there was the last waltz just to see if people could remember what they had learned two hours previously!

After all this dancing the night was still young. This year I am fundraising for Cancer Research UK. Merry Metcalf and myself had donated around two dozen prizes - wine, chocolates, perfume, silk scarves, hardback books, gift sets and more – so that a raffle could be organised. Andy Farrell and Christine Gigou were my lovely assistants selling tickets and with everyone’s generosity we raised £84.25 for this worthwhile charity. With so many prizes most people won something to take home too.

The evening was rounded off with a “DIY disco” although many people were exhausted from all the earlier dancing so preferred to sit and chat with newfound friends, only venturing back onto the dance floor when the Macarena or Time Warp were played. As 1.00 am approached guests began drifting off to their bedrooms or home with heart shaped balloons, that I’d provided as table décor, tied to their wrists. Well, it was Valentine’s Day!

Thank you to the 40 members and their guests who came to this event and made it an enjoyable evening. I’ve had requests to repeat the format next year. There may well be another meal and opportunity to dance at a venue easily accessible from the M1 next February. Watch this space!

Maxine Bates