'Anybody can do it' - meet the 70-year-old dancer bringing 'life-changing' rock 'n' roll to Norfolk
PUBLISHED: 17:15 03 February 2020
Rocking Foxes' Sharon Wentworth is bringing her lively, jiving spirit to village halls across Norfolk, encouraging others to embrace the 'life-changing' power of dance - whatever their age.
Sharon Wentworth has danced for as long as she can remember - from standing on the feet of her two older sisters as a child, to learning 1950s rock 'n' roll in the bars and clubs of south London.
"We just did it - passed on the moves we had learned to our friends," she recalls. "It was all about the dance. Yes, there were trouble-makers - or so it was rumoured, the Teds and Rockers - but it was never as bad as the publicity at the time would have you believe."
Growing up at such a time inspired a passion for dance, and ever since, Sharon has tried many different types and styles - but her favourite has always remained rock 'n' roll.
"Anybody can do it because the music is so great," she says. "It lifts the spirits and makes people want to tap their feet, jiggle their bodies and simply dance."
Her love for the style saw her set up Foxyrock 12 years ago - a regular dance night in Foxash, Essex.
"At the opening there were about 15 people," Sharon recalls. "Nobody danced much. I had a job to encourage them on to the floor. I suggested that I could show them some dance moves - they were all up for that."
Foxyrock flourished and soon moved to bigger premises. It was so popular that Sharon was asked to set up a second group in Ipswich.
She continued running both groups until around two years ago, when she handed the reins over to DJ Nadge, the clubs' resident disc jockey. The clubs still run once a fortnight and have hundreds of members - but Sharon hasn't stopped.
Since moving to Norfolk, she has set up "R'Occold", a monthly Sunday afternoon tea dance in Occold, near Eye, which includes refreshments and her own homemade cakes - just another of her many hobbies.
She had never intended to start anything up again, she says, but missed it - the dancing, the organising, the sense of purpose - too much.
"I am in my 70s and really don't feel much different from when I was in my 50s or 60s," she says. "Sure, I get tired sometimes, with a few twinges, but on the plus side I am very bendy, lively, positive, optimistic and am so not done. People who come to Occold are all ages - mostly older, I suppose. The Everly Brothers said 'you never get old if you rock 'n' roll' and that is exactly right. I see it all the time when people come along who are perhaps living alone, feeling low and saying they are unable to move much. Get that rock 'n' roll music on and they begin to smile - it's priceless.
"They're transported back in time and the years simply slip away. Already that person has washed, dressed and made the effort to get out and come along," she says. "I have had people tell me it is life-changing and I know it's true."
The fashions of the era are also another reason many people attend Sharon's groups. "I have ladies and gentleman who are really not that bothered about the dancing but love the fashion of the era," she says.
"One lady confided to me that she suffered with depression and at night, when unable to sleep, she would dress up in her rock 'n' roll clothes and make-up and the whole experience would lift her out of her mood."
In fact, Sharon says you don't even have to know how to dance to join in. "Rock 'n' roll is inspirational and innovative so nobody can possibly get it wrong," she says. "I particularly welcome those with two left feet, no confidence and no sense of rhythm - we can get that sorted, no problem."
Sharon is currently running classes for beginners at Bunwell, Tacolneston and Occold, with hopes to find a suitable venue in Norwich later on this year.
Visit www.rockingfoxes.co.uk for more details.
STILL YOUNG ENOUGH TO...
NHS guidelines suggest that healthy individuals aim to take part in 150 minutes - that's 2.5 hours - of moderate activity a week.
Norfolk County Council's new campaign, still young enough to, encourages older people throughout Norfolk to stay active and embrace a healthier way of life. To find out more about what activities you can do, visit the website at www.norfolk.gov.uk/stillyoungenoughto or follow along on social media at #stillyoungenoughto
You can also find more information about what activities are near you at www.norfolk.gov.uk/what-we-do-and-how-we-work/campaigns/healthy-ageing