Tea dance fans set to have the time of their lives

The Ragroof Tea Dance at Chapelfield Gardens for the Norfolk and Norwich Festival. Picture: Denise Bradley The Ragroof Tea Dance at Chapelfield Gardens for the Norfolk and Norwich Festival. Picture: Denise Bradley

Tuesday, May 13, 2014
5:09 PM

Dance fans are set to have the time of their lives with the return of the Ragroof Tea Dances to the Adnams Spiegeltent this weekend.

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The Ragroof Tea Dance at Chapelfield Gardens for the Norfolk and Norwich Festival. Picture: Denise BradleyThe Ragroof Tea Dance at Chapelfield Gardens for the Norfolk and Norwich Festival. Picture: Denise Bradley

The Ragroof Players are once again bringing their old school tea dance glamour to Norwich, and this year their events have drawn inspiration from the movies. The classic Patrick Swayze film Dirty Dancing is the theme for the first Ragroof event on Saturday, while on Sunday it is the turn of The Great Gatsby to take to the dance floor.

Dorothy Max Prior, co-director of the Ragroof Players and who dances under the name Dorothy’s Shoes, said Ragroof loved coming to Norwich because of the great reception from the audiences who are always up for a good dance.

“It’s always amazing to be in the Spiegeltent, and Chapelfield is such a beautiful setting with the gardens. The whole ambience is just lovely,” said Ms Prior.

The Brighton-based Ragroof Players have been running tea dances for a number of years and this is about their fifth visit to the festival.

“We are a theatre company and we started the tea dances as an off-shoot of one of our shows, Shall We Dance?” Ms Prior said.

“We interviewed lots of people about their memories of tea dances, and the one thing they all seemed to remember was the glamour, so we decided to reinvent the tea dance for a new generation and for all ages.”

Tea and cakes, short taster dance lessons, and lots of fun are the key ingredients, with different themes being added into the mix and people being invited to dress up - or not - in the style of the occasion.

In homage to the Dirty Dancing story of Baby and Johnny’s summer of 1963, Saturday’s tea dance will step back to 1960s America and feature, among other numbers, Penny’s merengue, Johnny and Penny’s mambo, and Johnny and Baby’s dance finale - complete with that iconic lift.

“To use the famous quote, nobody will be putting Baby - or anyone else - into a corner,” said Ms Prior.

“We will be mambo-ing, merengue-ing, and cha cha-ing, and channeling the spirit of the Kellerman holiday camp,”

Meanwhile the glory days of jazz will be celebrated at The Great Gatsby tea dance, where people will be transported back to the time of the novel recently made into a film by director Baz Luhrmann and starring Leonardo DiCaprio.

Expect the Charleston, Peabody and Black Bottom to be among the dances.

“I am sure there will be lots of people in Charleston dresses and lots of feathers,” said Ms Prior.

“We will be going back to the days of prohibition - look out for whisky in the teapots!”

• Visit www.ragroofplayers.co.uk

• For more NNF Festival Focus features click here.

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