On a Box Now Checked

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Some people call it a bucket list – others prefer to say wish list, dream destination, or whatever. On 23 August 2015 I posted about a place that was on both mine and my wife’s list. After monitoring the website at various points before our journey, on Wednesday, the 9th of August 2017, we checked the box.

About a month earlier at the golf club where I work, I met an English couple who were new members. I told him about our upcoming trip, including our plans for this location – to which he replied, Why? Once I mentioned the reason, his inquisitive frowning face changed to a smile.

We planned the day in advance. We knew when the ship docked in Liverpool, the location and distance to the train station, the train schedule, return times, and the essential information about our destination. We were on a mission for our time of dancing on one of the most famous ballroom floors in the world – the Blackpool Tower Ballroom in Blackpool, England.

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Blackpool is on England’s west coast, about a 90-minute train ride to the north from Liverpool. It’s a seaside resort that is very popular with commoners. Madame Tussauds, water parks, a carnival atmosphere, and more aren’t on my favorite things list, but the famed ballroom was our attraction.

Given the floor, the historic significance, and the ornate surrounding – absolutely Bucket List for us. Our ticket included a 90-minute tea with sandwiches, fruit, and tarts.

Image from Blackpool Tower website

Architectural elegance and charm from a time that has past define the Tower Ballroom (which dates back to 1894).

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Surrounding the large floor were the organists on a stage at one end; tables to sit at the opposite end; and settings for tea along one side.

Dancing to an organist (instead of recorded music) was a new experience. Two organists shared the duties, so music was continuous. One organ, the mighty Wurlitzer, makes a grand entrance being lifted to the stage from below … then lowers out of sight when the player’s shift concludes.

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We already knew to expect a different style of ballroom dance at Blackpool (American vs. International). Amazingly, for at least the first three dances we simply sat at our table thinking, We can’t do that! We never get a chance to dance because everyone on the floor is doing the same thing … the same steps/pattern.

I approached a couple near our table about what we were observing. They explained that the English and many Europeans dance sequences, which are set patterns that every does. The clue would be to listen to the organist because he would announce the name of the sequence and dance, so we should listen for the terms traditional or ballroom that will signal an non-sequence dance.

Sequences are fun to watch, but not if you are there to dance and you don’t know the sequence! We were surprised by the number of sequences … and dancers sat down if they didn’t know the sequence.

This is the Engagement Waltz.

We finally made it on the floor … and the first thing that we noticed was the amount spring in the floor – especially in the center. Our tea-table was almost in the center, and the movement made photography difficult – and of course I started wondering about potential motion sickness. Yes – the movement was that noticeable!

We stayed for almost 4 hours, and we were glad to check the box on our Bucket List. With the ship departing at 8 pm, we were fortunate to have a few hours in Liverpool (the previous post).

Here’s a short (90-second) promotional video showing the Blackpool Tower Ballroom. Enjoy … and you notice sequence dancing.

Next stop: Belfast, Northern Ireland

For other posts about our time in the British Isles, click here.

My past post about Blackpool’s Tower Ballroom

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33 thoughts on “On a Box Now Checked

  1. My goodness, it is very grand isn’t it Frank! I’m not surprised you wanted to go there and dance – but such a pity you weren’t forewarned about the dancing style. I’m glad to hear you got a turn or two around the floor though – was it worth it?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Pauline,
      Oh yes … and we are glad we went! The sequence thing did catch us by surprise. They actually looked easy … but one has to learn it first. Interestingly, more people were dancing sequences than traditional. During one of the traditional tangos, less than 10 couples were on the floor.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. CONGRATS to you and your wife for checking off the Blackpool Tower Ballroom. Really great the way you two continue to do your ballroom dancing hobby up right!

    P.S. What else is on your bucket list?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Merril,
      Very cool indeed. Amazing how the plan worked so well. We didn’t know it would be a go until about 3 weeks prior as we had to be sure a private party didn’t rent the venue. Once they were selling tickets, we knew it was a go!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Jo,
      Many thanks for the congrats … and cheers to us for accomplishing this trip. On our walk back to the train station so we could return to Liverpool, I told my wife that I can’t believe we didn’t get a picture of us in this ballroom! As many pictures as we took, and this one we forget. 😦

      Liked by 2 people

  3. What a splendid ballroom that is. I have no idea what a sequence dance is, but it all sounds far out of my capabilities. Glad you managed a few turns around the dance floor with your wife. My family used to go to Blackpool in the summer holidays and it was in a boarding house there that I saw my first piano and tried it out. I remember playing ‘God Save The Queen’ with one finger. This prompted my mom to buy us an old piano and send my sister and me for lessons.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sylvia,
      Loved the way this post is tied to your love for the piano. Thanks for sharing it. In terms of sequences, I had the feeling that some were taught at an early age … but that just may be my thought. I called them sequences because that is the term the English couple used – so maybe there is another name. Cheers to our Blackpool connection.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. How exciting, Frank. I wouldn’t have known anything at all about the pattern and sequencing expectations in the British ballroom dancing. But in a way I suppose that matches what we think of as British formality. I’m so glad that in the end you were able to spend some valuable time dancing and fulfilling a long-held desire. I would think that will remain a highlight!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Debra,
      “British formality” is a great way to describe sequence dances. Thanks for coming through! 🙂 … but we were very surprised by the number of sequence dances. Nonetheless, we got to dance at Blackpool – and for us, that was quite a thrill.

      PS: I’m glad you saw this post. 🙂

      Like

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