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January, 2009

  1. To Ceroc or not to Ceroc

    January 29, 2009 by Amy Hansford

    Ladies and gentlemen, forget the gym, forget going for a run – if you’re only doing (or failing to do) one bit of exercise in the week, let Ceroc lead the way to your new sustainable regime.

    If you don’t have time to read this note (I have a feeling it’ll be a long one), check out for more information. In the meantime, here’s the word from the horse’s mouth on what it’s like to be a newbie at a Ceroc night. Note the use of ‘night’ over ‘lesson’.

    I hate the gym and I hate the outside world, so I figured I needed some sort of keep fit class. Inadvertantly stumbling onto Weight Watchers and discovering Ceroc earned you more food points, I thought I’d check it out. The above website pointed me towards a regular event taking place on a Thursday night nearby, appealing to my lazy not-liking-to-travel-far nature. Having read all the FAQs and other information available, I went expecting a structured dance lesson with a bit of free time at the end.

    Arriving at the church hall armed with my already completed membership form (downloadable) and small fee I breezed in, was given a membership card and a dvd with all the beginners moves on. At this point there were only about 8 people there – would I be dancing alone? By 7.30pm there were about 30 people with plenty more arriving through the night, relieving my concerns. Important note: no-one made a fuss out of me being a beginner. Huge benefit. Means you feel on a par with everyone else in the class instead of having your incompetence pointed out.

    Quick note: I thought Ceroc was going to be like keep fit utilising dance moves. So wrong. It’s more like a jive or lindyhop or salsa dance. Very social.

    The coach was great – friendly yet not overbearing and demonstrated all the moves on the stage. Excellent man:woman ratio with the women moving along the men in turn. In 45 minutes we covered just THREE moves. Perfect. Not loads to remember, but plenty to practice, ending up with a smart looping routine. And it was informal – no-one pointing at your feet and telling you you’re going the wrong way. If it goes with the flow, it’s all good. While the intermediates started their lesson (by now there being at least 50 people there) 7 of us went upstairs with two instructors to review what we’d just learned.

    With extra attention from the instructors we were all fluidly working through the routine by the end of the extra 45 minutes. It was great having the opportunity to hone where I should end up after a spin and practice with others. Then back downstairs for the ‘Freestyle’.

    By now I’d been dancing an hour and a half. The previously well lit church hall had now turned into a proper party – decent disco lighting in a darkened room, a table with water/pop and a window with tea/coffee. Everyone was going for it, beginners mixing with intermediates, people spinning here and there and everyone just having a damned good time. An intermediate asked me to dance. He was really good at leading and so he made me look like I was a professional, spinning me here and dipping me there. Magic.

    But this is the thing – it didn’t feel like I was going there to keep fit. It felt like I was on a night out. Everyone is friendly and no-one is left out or, equally important, hassled. It’s a brilliant concept, and you don’t get lost if you miss a week as you learn new moves each session. I will be cancelling my gym membership this week. And investing in a plaster collection for my little toe – it’s going to be hard pressed every Thursday from here on in.

    I attended the Ceroc night at St George’s Church Hall, Muswell Hill, N10 3AH.
    Sessions are Thursdays with beginners 7.30-8.15, intermediates/beginner revision 8.30-9.00 and freestyle until 10.30pm.
    ?8 per session, ?2 membership payment on your first visit, ?6.50 if you’re just there for the freestyle.

  2. 16 things

    January 23, 2009 by Amy Hansford

    There’s one of these quiz virals going round at the moment suggesting you list 16 interesting facts about you. This is preferable to the usual 100 question long list quizzes full of yes/no answers. Sorry everyone, but the people who read these ignore pretty much every ‘yes’ and ‘no’ in favour of thte interesting full length answers. So why not give this one a try?

    My 16 interesting facts are below. Please note that they are interesting according to what *I* think is interesting and what isn’t already common knowledge. For example, most people know I’ve been on kids tv a few times and that I have 9 1/2 toes. No need to include them…

    1. I was the first pupil in Bishopshalt school to go on the internet.
    2. When I was little, if I saw Bill Oddie on tv, I thought it was my Dad.
    3. I secretly enjoy alphabetising things.
    4. I was about 4″ tall until year 8 (age 12)
    5. As such, my original career plan was to be a stunt double for children.
    6. I have never broken a bone in my body, but have broken the bones of others.
    7. My tap dancing has been critiqued by Lionel Blair and Wayne Sleep.
    8. I’ve beaten death several times.
    9. I had lunch with Doctor Who.
    10. I’ve provided financial advice for a celebrity.
    11. One of my relatives was eaten by cannibals.
    12. Being told I’m really efficient is a bigger compliment than being told I’m pretty.
    13. I am prouder of my nieces and nephew than anything else I have ever personally accomplished.
    14. I judge everyone on tv.
    15. I wore fake boobs for a year. No-one noticed the difference except me.
    16. I was almost the owner of the only replica Ecto-1 in the UK.

  3. Costumes: Kids’ TV

    January 22, 2009 by Amy Hansford

    A good friend of mine needs a Kids’ TV themed costume for this weekend. Remembering that I’m a Londoner, these are all characters from UK based tv shows, old and new. It’s up to you how you interpret the costume; this is just a handy list of some notable mentions.

    Andy Pandy
    Animaniacs – Yakko, Wacko or Dot?
    Art Attack
    Astrix / Oblix
    Basil Brush
    Bill and Ben plus Little Weed
    Bugs Bunny
    Byker Grove
    Care Bears
    Chip and Dale? **new**
    Daffy Duck
    Dangermouse? **new**
    Duck Tales – Huey, Louis, Duey or Scroodge McDuck?? **new**
    Dungeons and Dragons? **new**
    Ed the Duck
    Elmer Fudd
    Fireman Sam
    Fraggle Rock
    Fun House contestant / Pat Sharp
    Gordon the Gopher
    Grange Hill pupil
    He-Man / She-Ra
    Henry’s Cat? **new**
    In the Night Garden
    Inspector Gadget
    Knightmare (This would be my choice)
    Maid Marion / Sheriff of Nottingham
    Marvin the Martian
    Paddington Bear
    Penny Crayon
    Phantom Flan Flinger
    Pink Panther
    Poddington Peas
    Pokemon (I didn’t want to include this but Alex said I had to)
    Postman Pat / Jess
    Rainbow Brite
    Rod Hull and Emu (get yer puppet for only ?20 in the shops!)
    Roland Rat
    Sesame Street – Yip Yip Yips, Oscar the Grouch, Bert and Ernie
    Shoe People
    Spit the Dog
    Spongebob Squarepants *new 22/1
    Taz the Tasmanian Devil
    Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
    The Raccoons
    Thomas the Tank Engine
    Thunderbirds / Lady Penelope / Parker
    Timmy Mallett
    Tin Tin / Snowy
    Transformers? **new**
    Worzel Hummidge /Aunt Sally
    Yogi Bear

  4. Costumes: Tube stations

    January 5, 2009 by Amy Hansford

    One of the up and coming costume party themes at the moment is that of Tube Stations. As bizarre as it sounds, there are just over 200 tube stations (including DLR) and they bring up all sorts of costume ideas.

    Below are many costume suggestions, less the stations for the DLR as they’re not (as far as I’m aware) included for the purpose of the party for which this list was originally made. Which is a shame as that’s where some of the names get really inventive.

    Angel Islington – angel (did you really need to ask? really?)
    Arsenal – lots of weaponry / an Arsenal fan
    Baker Street – Baker / Sherlock Holmes
    Bank – Banker
    Barbican – Barbie (in a can if you can manage it)
    Barking – Dog
    Barons Court – Panto style baron (i.e. Baron Hardup)
    Becontree – Chrimble tree with a beaconesque light
    Belsize Park – Bellboy
    Blackfriars – Friar all in black / Burned food in a giant frying pan
    Blackhorse Road – Panto horse
    Bond Street – James Bond
    Bounds Green – Green bondage
    Bow Church – Prest/Nun/Monk covered in bows
    Bow Road – Generally lots of bows
    Brent Cross – Brent Spiner from Star Trek looking annoyed
    Burnt Oak – Singed
    Canada Water – Bottle of water / Canadian
    Canary Wharf – Yellow bird
    Chalk Farm – Farm animal drawn on a blackboard
    Chesham – Chess piece
    Cockfosters – Cockeral and can of Fosters
    Colindale – Colin Farrell / Colin McRae (rally driver) / Colin Firth
    Colliers Wood – Shaggy dog
    Covent Garden – Priest/Monk/Nun with a flower
    Dagenham East – Dagger
    Dollis Hill – Dolly
    Ealing Broadway/Fulham Broadway – ANY Broadway show character with a London twist
    Earls Court – Jolly jolly posh. What ho.
    East Ham/West Ham – Pig
    Elephant and Castle – Elephant (and a castle if you can arrange it)
    Euston – astronaut (as in ‘Houston, we have a problem’…)
    Euston Square/Leicester Square – Cube/Square
    Fairlop – Fairground person/freakshow
    Finchley Central/Road – Finch
    Gloucester Road – Dr Foster
    Golders Green – All in gold and green / Goldmember
    Goldhawk Road – Golden hawk/bird
    Grange Hill – Grange Hill uniform / Dinner Lady / School Nurse / Teacher
    Green Park/Greenford – All in green
    Greenwich – Green witch
    Gunnersbury – Lots of guns
    Hammersmith – Giant hammer / MC Hammer
    Hampstead – George Michael
    Hanger Lane – Noose / Pilot / Air Hostess / covered in hangers
    Harrow and Wealdstone – sign: Hello – I have a stone and know how to use it.
    Harrow on the Hill – sign: Hello – I have a stone and I live on a hill.
    Hatton Cross – Ricky Hatton
    Heathrow – Pilot / Air Hostess
    Hendon Central – Police trainee
    High Barnet – Tall wig
    Holland Park – Dutch outfit with clogs
    Hornchurch – Priest/Nun/Monk wearing a hat with horns
    Hyde Park Corner – Jekyll and Hyde
    Kew Gardens/Ruislip Gardens – Botanist / Flower / Weed / Bill and Ben
    Kilburn/Kilburn Park – Singed
    Kings Cross – Angry king
    St Pancreas – operation patient halfway through
    Kingsbury – King fresh from the grave
    Knightsbridge – Knight
    Lambeth North – Pearly queen/king
    Marble Arch – Giant marble
    Mornington Crescent – sleepy pyjama wearer who’s just woken up
    Neasden – cut out knees
    Northolt – RAF person
    Northwood – Lumberjack
    Notting Hill Gate – Hugh Grant / Julia Roberts
    Old Street – OAP
    Oval – Cricketer
    Oxford Circus/Piccadilly Circus – Ringmaster / acrobat / lion tamer
    Paddington – Paddington Bear
    Park Royal/Royal Oak – Royalty
    Parsons Green – Parson/Priest
    Pinner – Giant tack
    Preston Road – Preston and Chantelle
    Queens Park/Queensway – Queen / Freddie Mercury
    Queensbury – dead queen
    Ravenscourt Park – Black bird
    Rayners Lane – Clare Raynor
    Richmond – Someone who’s loaded
    Rickmansworth – Rick Astley / Rick Mayall / Ricky Tomlinson
    Roding Valley – Horse rider / jockey
    Royal Victoria – Queen Victoria
    Russell Square – Russell Crowe / Russell Grant / Russell Brand
    Shepherds Bush – Shepherd and sheep
    Sloane Square – Dr Mark Sloane (Diagnosis Murder)
    Snaresbrook – person caught in a bear trap
    St Pauls – Paul McCartney / Paul Gasgoine / Paul McKenna
    Stanmore – Stan Laurel
    Stockwell – Giant Oxo cube
    Sudbury Hill/Sudbury Town – soap suds
    Surrey Quays – Captain of a boat / sailor
    Swiss cottage – Swiss cuckoo clock inhabitant
    Temple – ANY God (have fun with this one)
    Tooting Broadway – Brass player
    Tower Hill – Beefeater
    Tufnell Park – Phil Tufnell
    Turnpike Lane – Big fish
    Victoria – Victoria Beckham / Queen Victoria /
    Warren Street – Rabbit
    Warwick Avenue – Duffy
    Waterloo – Abba / Napoleon
    Wembley – Footplayer
    West Brompton – Cyclist with a tiny bike
    White City – all in white
    Whitechapel – Priest/Monk/Nun all in white
    Wimbledon – Tennis player

  5. Costumes: Pantomime characters

    January 1, 2009 by Amy Hansford

    The most popular costume idea request I get is for couple outfits. This is tricky as sometimes both people are up for it, and cometimes there’s one person who really just isn’t that keen on dressing up.

    The important thing is to dress up as much as you feel comfortable with. Going to a teddybear party? You can just wear some teddy ears, and maybe some mittens, and that’s enough. Or, you can go the whole hug, pad yourself out, do the face, teddy ears etc. You could even be really inventive, do all that, wear red shorts and tshirt with a brown vest, strap a tape player to your tummy and be Teddy Ruxpin. You will truly be the hero of the party. Inventiveness is far more excellent than a hired Pudsey Bear costume.

    However, I digress. Today, couple costumes for a pantomime themed party.

    Aladdin and Widow Twanky
    Aladdin and the Genie
    Aladdin and the Princess
    Buttons and Cinderella
    Cinderella and Prince Charming
    Cinderella and an Ugly Sister
    Cow/Horse combo
    Dick Whittington and his cat
    Dick Whittington and King Rat
    Hansel and Gretel
    Peter Pan and Hook
    Peter Pan and Wendy
    Princess and the Pea (a little abstract, but potentially quite funny)
    Puss In Boots and any other nursery rhyme character
    Sleeping Beauty and Prince Charming
    Snow White and any dwarf
    Ugly Sisters

    The secret is that, ideally, one of you needs to be the lead character from the pantomime. The other person can be anyone else from the cast list, as the seed of recognition is planted once the onlooker has figured out the pantomime you’re from.

    And the beauty of this theme is that is doesn’t matter what gender is playing whom – it’s panto, darling!