So You Want To Learn Rock and Roll Dancing in Manchester?
So did we, and miraculously, the options are few and far between. But there is one, and we’ll direct you to it. But first, let’s discuss Rock and Roll dancing generally and what you are likely to encounter if you want to learn in Manchester, Stockport or Lancashire.
You’d think a city as large as Manchester would be bristling with options to learn Rock and Roll dancing, but a quick delve onto Google not only shows you there are relatively few options, but the information it delivers isn’t terribly relevant. And raises more questions than you’d imagine. I’m going to tell you about the journey we had learning to jive or dance rock and roll.
My journey started out going to a Rock and Roll themed anniversary party in Denton. I’ve always had two left feet so tended to avoid dancing, although I always fancied the idea of learning. My wife was more enthusiastic about dancing generally, and as she is quite easy on the eye, she was invited up to dance many times and I was like a spare part on the sidelines. So I decided it was time to learn. And my wife decided it was time to learn properly.
As you do, I went on Google and typed in “Where to Learn Rock and Roll Dancing in Manchester”. The first few results you get are paid ads, and none direct you to any *actual* Rock and Roll dance classes in Manchester.
Then you get a few business listings, some for swing dancing (not the same) and some for general, Latin, ballroom, and other types of dancing. Nothing too specific for Rock and Roll dancing.
Then you’ll find an entry for hen nights, one for a place in Oldham that has a whole page on it, but no actual classes, you’ll find Lane’s School of dancing that again offers nothing Rock and Roll specific, a few sites offering Lindy Hop and Swing (again, something else), a few venues for people that can already dance, and a few more ads that led me to no actual dance classes.
I thought it surprising that as the North West is the British home of Rock and Roll since the days of the Beatles, there are so few Jive dance classes here. The famous Top Ten club started in Belle Vue in 1962 run by Jimmy Savile and Dave Eager. Herman’s Hermits, the Stones, the Tremeloes, the Hollies, Tina Turner, and the Merseybeats all performed there. But fast forward a few decades and there’s nowhere to learn Rock and Roll dancing? What was I missing?
I ended up on YouTube, which is all very well, but video learning isn’t ideal, and we thought that what we needed was actual face-to-face tuition.
When you delve into the subject a bit more (I went down the rabbit hole on this so you don’t have to), you find out that there are different types of Rock and Roll dancing. Jitterbug, Jive, Boogie Woogie, Calypso, Bunny Hop, Lindy Hop, Hand Jive, Twist, The Stroll, etc.
Which one do you want to learn? No, I didn’t know either. I wanted something that was more “all round”. Something like you see at Rock and Roll dances and can practice at home.
My online journey eventually took me to the last place on the internet I go for anything: Facebook. And there is where we eventually found the classes we attend.
Where to Learn Rock and Roll Dancing in Manchester
So you’ll have to travel a short distance to find Jive or Rock and Roll dance classes in Manchester, all the way to sunny Ramsbottom in fact. Not far from Oldham just up the M66. It takes no time at all to get there from the M60.
The couple who run it are called Michael and Kyla Sixsmith. It’s on from 7pm Wednesday evenings, currently at Ramsbottom Cricket Club. You’ll find it at Acre Bottom, Bridge St, Ramsbottom, Bury. BL0 0BS.
It’s not at all formal or stuffy. It’s very inexpensive and you’ll be there for at least a couple of hours for each lesson. There’s a car park, a bar, plenty of seating and after your first lesson, you’ll come away having really felt like you learned something. It’s great value for money and Michael and Kyla are a really friendly couple who know their eggs. You’ll feel yourself among friends immediately.
Here’s what to expect.
Most of the couples you see have only had a handful of lessons there (the girl in the polka-dot dress is Kyla). After two or three lessons, you’ll be getting the hang of it as you see above.
If you are a Facebook user, you can find their page >>here<<. It’s a private page and you have to ask to join and wait (no, I don’t know why that is).
If you are not a Facebook user (and that’s lots of us – and why this blog post is here), you can send an SMS or Whatsapp to 07846 594431 and they’ll fill you in on all the details.
Tell them Stuart sent you. I don’t get paid a penny for that, it’s just so they know this article works and how you found them. If you bump into me at the dance classes, now you know my name, do say hello.
About the Rock and Roll Scene in Manchester and the North West
The Rock and Roll community in Manchester, Lancashire and Yorkshire is an informal mish-mash of small clubs, friends and Facebook groups. There is no proper central source of information that compiles it all yet that I can find. What websites exist haven’t been updated in ages and consequently, there isn’t that much out there that Google can actually find and deliver to you when you are looking for where to learn Rock and Roll dancing in Manchester. That doesn’t make it terribly easy for newcomers, especially if you are not a Facebook user, and that is really why I wrote this article – to point you in the right direction. But if you are reading this, I’ve done the work so you don’t have to. And this article is only here as Micheal and Kyla are great teachers who deserve a bit more exposure.
Well actually, this article is here for another reason too. The folk you will meet on the Rock and Roll scene in the North West are *really* friendly folk who love dancing and love Rock and Roll. But it’s fair to say they are often not in the first flower of youth. Nothing wrong with that of course, but the scene also needs some new, younger blood too. As older people drop out, the scene needs new ones to maintain critical mass or venues die. A popular Rock and Roll evening in Denton has just recently closed its doors as door receipts didn’t cover the costs. And that’s a shame.
So if you are in Manchester or the North West, and you fancy some Rock and Roll dancing, you now know where to learn, now you need to know where to go dancing.
Where to Find Rock and Roll Nights in Manchester
You might be old enough to remember making shapes at the Ritz, Smokeys, Upstairs Downstairs or Rotters. But those venues are long gone. But dance nights in Manchester are still out there if you know where to look.
After a lesson or two, you’ll feel confident enough to attend a dance. Lots have live bands, and I’ve never seen any trouble at any of them. Again, most of the dances I could find are cross populated by many of the same people. They all know where they are and at the events, you’ll find leaflets for the forthcoming dates. Once you are actually in the scene, you’ll easily find out where they all are.
Many are in Lancashire or Yorkshire too, but it’s only half an hour up the road. But first, you need a latch-lifter (as my Grandad used to call it), so here’s what I know. You can Google or follow the links below for further details on the venues below or use the comment section below to add more.
Accrington: At the Pop Club in Accrington, BB5 2NJ, you’ll find Rock and Roll nights a couple of Friday nights a month and some Sunday afternoons. Good old school venue, with good parking and a good size dance floor. We like this one. Micheal and Kyla run some if not all of the evenings here, so ask them. Recommended.
Radcliffe: St Mary’s Social Club, M26 2WQ. Micheal and Kyla host a few dances here, better to ask them. They have an FB page >here<. We went here, it’s small and cosy but the ventilation is really poor. No draught Guinness either. The aircon doesn’t work, the windows don’t open and they can’t open the fire doors for fear of upsetting the neighbours. After an hour it’s like a Turkish sauna.
Halifax: Halifax Rock and Roll Club. Not a bad venue, but parking is a bit competitive. We liked it here and some people had some great period outfits. Super friendly people. Well worth the short drive from Manchester. It fills up quickly on busy nights and then it’s standing room only. Get there early. Recommended.
Sale: We’ve not been to this one personally yet, the rumour is it’s a bit “cliquey”. I’m not actually sure where it is in Sale yet as it’s not well advertised. It might have even moved to Altrincham. Use the comment section below if you know. Edit: an indignant woman in the comments below said this was unfair but still gave no page or actual location. So we are still none the wiser.
Urmston: Known as “Crepes and Drapes”, it’s at The John Alker Club, Flixton Rd, M41 6QY. They have a FB page here. This seems to be a popular evening. We’ve been here, it’s not a bad venue, there’s a car park and clean toilets, it’s run by a bloke called Adge and they do ‘pie and peas’ too. Very northern, eh? Not my first choice, but I’d certainly go again.
Belle Vue – Gorton: We’ve not been here yet. They have an FB page here. I’m not sure of what crowd to expect in Gorton nowadays. And I say that as a Gorton-born and bred lad. I’m so Gorton that my Great Grandfather was Bouncing Billy Barker. But Gorton is rough nowadays. Can I even park my Range Rover safely there? I really want this venue to be good. I remember the Lake Hotel and the places they speak of. I know that rock and roll dances were pretty much born in Gorton. Gorton is part of rock and roll history. If you have been, tell us in the comments below.
The closest thing to a resource I have found is >this gig guide< which is national, but covers many venues in the North West.
I’m sure there are others, and if you know of any, or have any opinions or clarifications to share on this article, do please use the comments section below. Let’s try and get the Rock and Roll dancing scene in Manchester moving again!
Is it Worth Learning Rock and Roll Dancing?
It certainly is. And certainly as a bloke. And here’s why: in Rock and Roll dancing, the man leads. The woman does most of the work and the twirling, but she is led by you.
There’s more: it’s good exercise. Better than vegging out in front of Eastenders. Plus women like to dress up to go dancing. That means floaty dresses, polka dots, 50s fashion, pony tails and occasionally, stockings. Are you more interested now?
Many men aren’t that confident or maybe they don’t know how. That’s why you should have some lessons over there in Ramsbottom. All women like to dance, but not all men can dance. If you are one that can, then you have a big pool of women to dance with. What’s not to like?
Lots of men sit around the edge of the dance floor and only watch. Listening to a live band and watching the dancing is fine, you might even get the odd glimpse of stocking tops during a twirl if you’re eagle-eyed. And who doesn’t love that? But surely better to be one of the blokes that can join in as well? Go have a few lessons and you can join in too.
See you on the dance floor!
Comments, corrections, opinions, etc. are welcome in the comment box below.
Great article, well written and informative, for any young at Heart who remember the late 1950s or early 60s, it’s a great night out and fantastic like-minded people who love the music and the clothes. Long Live Rocknroll
Brilliant article. Google rnrgigguide and it gives you all the rock roll clubs around and tells you when the artist nights are and who is on. Keep dancing and enjoy. Xx
A little disappointed re the ‘It’s Only Rock n Roll Sale Mcr’ review. They used to have to turn people away when they were in the Masonic Hall in Sale, due to fire regs (the building has since been deemed unsafe) but now they have moved to Thomas Halford Catholic College in Altrincham I have found them extremely friendly and welcoming. They have amazing bands and a cracking choice of top class DJs. However, having been a regular at Micael and Kyla’s class in the past I completely agree with your assessment – top class teaching in a friendly informal setting.