About a year ago I visited the excellent Bridewell museum in Norwich. To walk around the Bridewell is to journey through 700 years of life in Norwich, from its development as a market town, through the history of industries such as weaving and shoemaking and much more. Upstairs in the mid 20th century I found myself in a listening booth hearing the sounds of the Stones and the Who and listening to the memories of Barbara Kerrys, who as a girl had enjoyed going out to dance at a Norwich nightspot (I can’t recall the exact details but it could have been the ‘Sampson and Hercules‘ or the ‘Jolly Butchers’ where landlady ‘Black Anna‘ sang the blues or possibly the less raucous sounding ‘Norman School of Dancing’). Whichever it was it sounded like a pretty special place.
Perhaps shows like Strictly Come Dancing have brought dance back into fashion. But there’s a big difference between watching dance and doing it. What has happened to dance as a popular pastime? Dancing does something that words or images can’t do. Dancing is communicating without speaking. It’s an important social ritual.