Your hol­i­day: Wind­sor

Ball­room danc­ing is def­i­nitely in our DNA!

Chat - - Contents - By Bev­er­ley Hunt, 42, from Black­pool

Ly­ing on my back, I stared up into the dark­ness above. White lights twin­kled and spun over­head like shoot­ing stars.

But I wasn’t out­side stargaz­ing...

It was 1978 and, aged 3, I was in my jim­jams, ly­ing across two comfy chairs in­side the Willes­den and District Old Time Dance Club in Lon­don.

The twin­kling lights were cour­tesy of the glit­ter ball that ro­tated in time to the ball­room mu­sic.

As I strug­gled to stay awake, my mum Su­sanne pulled me onto her lap.

‘Did you dance too much?’ she asked. ‘No, Mummy,’ I said. For me, there’s no such thing as danc­ing too much.

Some­thing most of my fam­ily would agree with.

You see, the rea­son 3-yearold me would at­tend the dance club every week, was be­cause my fam­ily were ball­room mad!

Grow­ing up, I learnt it had all started in 1944, when my grand­par­ents met at a tea dance in Lon­don.

‘I was so ner­vous when I asked your grandma to dance, my palms went clammy,’ my grandad Arthur, now 94, would say with a chuckle.

Ex­cept, once he’d spun her across the floor, the nerves had melted away.

‘We fell in love on that dance floor,’ my grandma Pa­tri­cia, now 90, al­ways said.

They’d mar­ried soon after – and, in Au­gust 1947, my dad, Arthur Jnr, had come along.

At first, Dad wasn’t too keen when my grand­par­ents had tried to get him waltz­ing and fox­trot­ting.

‘Danc­ing’s for girls,’ he would huff.

But when, in 1964, he’d spot­ted my mum Su­sanne, then 14, at one of the classes, he’d changed his mind!

And just like Grandma and Grandad, they’d fallen in love with one an­other – and with danc­ing. Whether tea danc­ing, ball­room, or Latin, over the years, my par­ents and grand­par­ents loved get­ting togged up and

hit­ting the sprung dance floors.

They never turned pro­fes­sional, wouldn’t en­ter com­pe­ti­tions.

They just loved to lose them­selves in the mu­sic, the moment, and each other’s arms.

I came along in 1975, and was whisked around the dance floor – sand­wiched be­tween my waltz­ing par­ents – be­fore I could walk!

I loved it when Dad or Grandad took me for a twirl.

I’d start the night in my pret­ti­est dress, then be changed, yawn­ing, into my py­ja­mas. And as my par­ents took it in turns to dance, I’d fall asleep to the sound of the cha-cha-cha, and the scent of beeswax pol­ish.

No won­der, then, that I grew up to adore danc­ing.

When I was 12, I was thrilled to get my first pair of gold danc­ing shoes.

‘I look just like you and Grandma,’ I’d squealed to Mum.

All through school, then while I worked as a wait­ress, I’d ball­room dance in my spare time.

I al­ways as­sumed I’d marry an­other dancer. But when I got to­gether with my hubby Paul, I had to prac­ti­cally drag him onto the dance floor. ‘It’s not my thing,’ he said. Maybe he was in­tim­i­dated. After all, by now my par­ents and grand­par­ents had nearly 50 years’ danc­ing ex­pe­ri­ence be­tween them. And I wasn’t too bad my­self!

Or maybe he just didn’t have the Ri­ley genes.

Be­cause when our son Ethan was born in 2002, I soon re­alised he had happy feet like me.

Not only had he en­joyed high-kick­ing in the womb, as soon as he was able to stand, he’d be danc­ing with the adults.

The whole fam­ily would still go danc­ing each week.

‘I’ll watch the coats!’ Paul would al­ways joke, set­tling at a table with a pint.

I didn’t mind. Es­pe­cially now I had my son to dance with.

I taught him ev­ery­thing I knew. By the time he was 10, he was wow­ing every­one.

‘He should com­pete,’ my dad said.

I agreed. I re­gret­ted not hav­ing com­peted when I was younger, but I’d never found a dance part­ner who was good enough.

‘If only I’d known some­one who could dance like you!’ I joked to Ethan.

At 14, Ethan found a danc­ing part­ner and started com­pet­ing. Sure enough, by May 2016, he was a fi­nal­ist at the North West Masters Tro­phy at Stock­port Town Hall.

The whole fam­ily was there cheer­ing him on as he quick­stepped and jived past us in his black trousers, white shirt and red tie.

He didn’t win, but I felt so proud of him.

I’d love to say my boy is go­ing to be the next Bren­dan Cole or An­ton du Beke, but he’s told us he wants to be­come a farmer!

As for me, these days, I teach ball­room danc­ing lessons, and my par­ents and grand­par­ents are still danc­ing.

Grandma and Grandad re­cently cel­e­brated their 71st wed­ding an­niver­sary, and you couldn’t get them off the dance floor.

And the rest of us Ri­leys all plan to fol­low in their fancy foot­steps!

Aged 12, I was thrilled to get my first pair of gold shoes

My grand­par­ents danc­ing on their wed­ding day

Top toe-tap­pers Mum and Dad

Four gen­er­a­tions Me and Ethan, my mum and dad, and Grandma and Grandad

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