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Sunday, 13 September 2009

Happy Birthday to The Place!

Happy 40th Birthday to The Place in Euston which is looking great for its age!

In September 1969 Robin Howard founded the Dance centre in the converted Victorian drill hall for a season of works by the London Contemporary Dance Company.

40 years later, the dance styles, as well as the walls have expanded to accommodate different disciplines and continue to break down social, political and linguistic barriers.

This weekend it opened its doors for people to come in and "taste" a selection of classes The Place has to offer for free.

It was "Urban Flavour" day on Friday 11, with three specialist classes and three teachers: Lil Tim on behalf of Jonzi D Productions, Marso on behalf of Company Decalage and Jeffrey on behalf of Zoo Nation. The friendly staff greeted guests with a free 'goody bag' (it was all dance-related leaflets, but it came in a bag!) and some delicious looking home made jam for sale to raise funds. Then we were ushered to the studios for classes, which covered the basic skills in each of the disciplines, street dance and b-boying.

The classes were just under an hour each, for beginners, but that didn't mean skill wasn't needed! Marso showed us the strings of a toprock to footwork routine, while the Zoo Nation class was a stylised street routine, vibing to an R'n'B track. It was pleasing to see that at least (I forgot to count) 6 eight-phrases were taught in the hour as well! Lil Tim taught several basic toprocks to footwork, and in true b-boy style finished off with an open circle for freestyling, where even the less confident dancers had a go.

Jonzi D turned up to host the afterparty at 9 o'clock, but unfortunately, with so many young participants the dance floor was a little bare. Surprising, seeing as it was a Friday night, inside a dance centre...

Nevertheless, a defiant Jonzi took hold of the microphone and said "Let's make this our party then!" leaving it up to the older dancers to take to the open circle, before jumping in and dancing to Chaka Khan's I Feel For You.

Even a hyped up freestyle circle couldn't keep the after party going on for too long though, so the after calling it a night, the Place staff invited everyone into the bar for drinks where a Latino band were playing salsa music.

During the interval in the band's set, a calorific birthday cake was cut into generous slices for all in attendance.

Even though it was a Friday night, even journalists need to get home, so we took a share of cake for the journey and headed off.

Many happy returns to The Place. It's looking great at 40, and we want to raise our glass to another 40 years of dancing!

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