Marwa Ramsi is the founder of Norwich Latin Dance, which offers regular Bachata classes, workshops and parties in the city. Here, she explains how she started the classes soon after leaving the UEA – and lists nine good reasons to keep dancing
I started Norwich Latin Dance shortly after leaving university for multiple reasons. The first was because of my passion for not only dancing but for teaching dance as well. I had the opportunity to teach some of the classes at UEA and absolutely loved it. There is something quite magical about taking someone who claims they ‘have two left feet’ and seeing them grow into regular dancers who are obsessed with dancing.
When I left university, I felt there was a massive drop in the number of fun, social activities that were available to young adults to attend without having to know anyone. I was also fortunate in that by this time I had met my now-partner, Jack, who was running Bachata dance classes in the city. I started Norwich Latin Dance initially covering Samba, Cha-Cha and Rumba alongside a sprinkling of other dances. And now, I teach, alongside Jack, weekly Bachata classes, and I introduce other dances to the community which come from all across the world through our parties and short courses.
My mum is Moroccan, and dance is a massive part of the culture there so although I was born and grew up in London, there was always music and dancing in the house. That didn’t mean I could dance but it meant I did it anyway. I didn’t have any formal dance classes until I went university and that is where I really fell in love with dancing. I was part of the Ballroom and Latin dance club there for 5-6 years and I was so obsessed that for a lot of that time, I practised and danced almost every day and was involved in all aspects of the club including teaching, performing and competing.
I did my first degree, an MNatSci, at UEA and then found that, whilst I loved the theory of science, being in a lab really didn’t suit my personality. It was actually being the president of the dance club at UEA that got me thinking that maybe I would be good at business and marketing, and so, I went on to complete another master’s degree in business management. Something, I never thought I would or could do but ended up loving it.
Following on from my degree, I decided to pursue a career in marketing which I have absolutely loved. It’s lucky too that I do because I incorporate my marketing skills into our dance business.
Our classes are super flexible because we want the lowest barrier to entry. You do not need to sign up, simply turn up on a Thursday night at Karma Kafe just before 7pm with £5 in cash per person, and someone will be on the door to greet you. The classes are drop in so if you can’t make it one week, that is fine.
If you are worried about not getting it or being behind, you can message Norwich Latin Dance on Facebook or on Instagram and ask for the Bachata basic steps video. This is a video that Jack and I created which covers the basic step that a lot of the initial content of Bachata is based on. Although we go through it in class, it might help those feeling a little anxious to prepare at home. But of course, there is also no need to as you can turn up and our teachers will take care of you!
The classes are partner work, but you do not need to come with a partner as we swap partners every few counts, you do not need to have ever danced before and you do not need to wear anything special! We always recommend worn-down trainers so there isn’t too much grip.
Everyone starts somewhere and I was terrible when I first started! The point of dance classes is to learn how to dance so why not give it a go and see how far you can get? One of the best things I ever did in my life was dance. It’s changed my entire career path, helped me meet people I never would have met, gets me out of the house, gets me socialising and makes me happy, even on days I feel down.
There are so many benefits to dancing – I consider it a ‘superactivity’! In short:
– It’s a gentle form of exercise so great for your muscles and your mobility
– The exercise also increases serotonin and endorphins, both of which are hormones which help to elevate your mood
– It’s learning new skills, so great for your brain, your memory and your dexterity
– Learning new moves and using dance as self-care also activates dopamine, another ‘happiness’ hormone
– Dopamine is also released when listening to music, so that’s a double hit of happy hormones
– It increases oxytocin – the hormone that makes you feel good after physical contact. Bachata is partner work, so you are dancing with people all the time
– It’s a social dance, you swap partners, dance with lots of people in a relaxed setting, this helps people feel more connected, helps them make friends, and reduces loneliness
– It’s helped people find lifelong friends and partners
– It’s helped people build confidence and be less afraid to try new things and put themselves out there
My hope and dreams for Norwich Latin Dance are the same as when I started. To continue creating a beautiful, safe community where people can learn how to dance, feel happy, feel less alone, improve their mental and physical health, find friends, build confidence in themselves and spread the word about how great learning how to partner dance is.
Featured images supplied by Marwa Famsi