Our March theatre trip was to a show with a ballroom dancing background, and the stage area in the auditorium had been transformed into the Empress Ballroom at the Blackpool Winter Gardens! The polished wooden floor was surrounded by seating on all sides and there were glitterballs hanging from the ceiling. The play’s setting was a throwback to the original “Come Dancing” competitions, shown on TV from the ’50s onwards, and we followed the stories of three different couples who were competing.
This involved watching the couples actually taking part on the dance floor, and then seeing them interact behind the scenes in their dressing rooms which were cleverly created by seamlessly wheeling several dressing rails onto the dance floor to surround a private space.
The couples, each from different backgrounds, arrived separately, and we were soon aware of their various hopes and dreams as well as the problems and worries they had left behind at home. For each couple the dance competition was their chance to find a path to fame and fortune, and to forget their humdrum lives for a while.
As it turns out the contest is a pivotal time for each of them and by the end their destinations are decided for better or worse. For some it has turned out well, while others have to come to terms with reality rather than dreams, but there is still hope for better things if they can move on.
Throughout the show the announcements over the tannoy preserved the atmosphere and tension of the dance contest and kept us in the loop along with the contestants waiting in the dressing rooms to come out and take part. There were some good performances and some dazzling ballroom and Latin dancing as well – a very entertaining and thought-provoking show.
Domestic abuse would not have been my first choice of subject for an evening’s Speaker to the members of Capel Ladies Club. However, Katherine Ahluwalia, the Training Co-ordinator for the Lighthouse Women’s Aid Project, made it a very interesting, informative talk, chilling though it was at times, but with a definite positive outlook on the work of this essential organisation.
We began with a Quiz highlighting different types of abuse which amazed us with statistics showing how common and widespread abuse can be. Over two million women aged between 16 and 69, and seven hundred thousand men have experienced abuse at some time in their lives, and locally one thousand women a year call in at Lighthouse’s Berners Street Centre.
“Lighthouse Women’s Aid is a charitable organisation based in Suffolk, providing support and advice to women and children experiencing domestic abuse in their personal or family relationships.” So says the leaflet, and indeed this organisation has been providing safe and supportive refuge in Ipswich since 1976! They offer advice and support from trained staff on any issue in complete confidence and without judgement, and they run a Women and Children’s Wellbeing Centre in central Ipswich. The incredible thing is they are a charity and as such are completely reliant on donations and fund-raising!
Capel Ladies Club gave Katherine a donation at the end of the evening, plus an extra £20.00, being the proceeds of a scarf and jewellery swap-shop organised by Mary Butters on the night.