The success and enjoyment of our ballroom events is down to a huge team effort. From the moment you click on the link to take part the team are working hard towards your amazing evening. The event night itself is the culmination of hard work and commitment by so many people who work tirelessly to make the experience the best. We wanted you to see what the event feels like from some of those involved.
In this blog post we have the different perspectives from a participant, a judge, an Ultra Events rep who took part himself, the DJ in charge of light and sound, and the Master of Ceremonies.
First up we hear from Gemma who took part in our April 2018 Event in Leicester.
“Ultra Ballroom, what can I say? Exciting, exhilarating, nerve-racking, something everyone should experience! I first heard of Ultra Ballroom from a post I saw on Facebook and thought how different it sounded and the perfect way to raise some money for a cause close to my heart. I had seen cancer a lot in the few years leading up to that moment, my brother had lost his tongue, my best friend her womb, my mother in law had lung and brain tumors and my parents had lost their best friend, I had been yearning to help the cause for some time but always felt if I was going to ask for money it needed to be something that pushed me.”
“I asked my husband but he wasn’t free for the event night so it wouldn’t have worked, that’s when I realised that my mum would be the perfect partner and with a little (lot) of persuasion she agreed. The training sessions were amazing. Mum and I were always close but they pushed us closer. We had such a fun time, the sessions were the perfect mix of laughter and serious work, Ginette had this balanced perfectly…we only needed the whistle a few times to restore order.”
“The night of the event was so special, we felt like celebs with a dressing room and rehearsals, everybody buzzing, doing hair, make-up, and photos. Honestly, I was terrified, but in a good way and as soon as we had danced we wanted to do it all over again. We had become such a close group and the encouragement and joy of watching each other perform was heart-warming.”
“When the fundraising total was read out on the night I couldn’t believe it, to have been part of raising such a huge amount felt so fulfilling.”
“In the years following the event we have continued to dance and have lessons with Ginnette which has done wonders for my confidence, every lesson brings a smile and I’ve learnt so many different dance styles it’s brilliant.”
Mike Bentley is a theatrical professional who has judged many of the Ultra Event Ballroom competitions. What is it really like to be behind that judging table, ready to lift those all-important paddles?
“Ultra Ballroom events are so incredibly special to me. As a judge, I get the unique opportunity of watching couples walk onto the dance floor after receiving just 8 weeks of training and perform a ballroom or Latin dance. It sounds impossible but I tell you it’s not and the results are truly a joy. Each performance I have watched has a common thread which is the passion and the determination to dance for a loved one. At the heart of every dance is the reason that they are there in the first place which is that cancer has touched their life, it’s a bond that I share too, which in turn gives every event this unique and powerful positive energy. The dancing always ranges in ability and styles, with outfits from comedy villains to princesses, to- wow look at that dress! The emotion is real and each couple always brings something to the table that showcases what they have achieved in 8 weeks. I have laughed and cried in equal measure at the events and it really is a joy to judge, nothing gives me more pleasure than producing a 10 and screaming that was fabulous.”
The Sound & Light
Aieysha is a DJ and her company Total Soundz provides the light and sound for many of our events around the country. She always provides a special touch and creates a unique atmosphere with clever and thoughtful use of lighting and music on the evening. She will often use light colours that match or enhance the costumes of the dancers and these are the incredible touches that make her such a valuable part of our success. Here she tells us her story.
“Feel good atmosphere”
“That’s how I would describe the Ultra Ballroom shows.”
“However, in order to fully understand my relationship with Ultra Ballroom I need to take you all the way back to the beginning. For me, that was October 2017 in Wolverhampton. Having DJ’d at the more blood and thunder Ultra White Collar Boxing and Ultra MMA events previously, I was asked to do my first Ultra Ballroom show. Although a completely different discipline, I could sense the same dedication and passion from the dancers as I did from the fighters. I knew this was a big night for all those out there under the sparkle of the glitterball tripping the light fantastic and I wanted to do everything I could to make their night extra special. The performances were amazing, the costumes were stunning, and everything was fabulous.”
“So, what does it mean to me now? The first thing that comes to mind is the coffee and the red bull!! Well, I need something to keep me going during what can be a very long day and night. Myself and my crew are often the first people on-site, bright and early in the morning, setting up our sound, lighting, and DJ production. Once the sound and DJ equipment is rigged up, the dancers begin to come in for rehearsals. It is so exciting to get the first glimpse of the beautifully vibrant costumes they’ll be wearing in the competition. It also gives me a chance to start planning the light show and supporting music. I like to make sure our lighting technicians can complement our dancers’ costumes and performances to allow them to shine in the best possible light, after all, it is their moment. So, rehearsals have finished, and all the lighting has been rigged and programmed and it’s time for a break, right? Absolutely no chance. It’s time for final checks before the first guests start arriving and need entertaining. The night really takes off now. From here on it’s a nonstop exhilarating thrill ride of everything strictly.”
“Although I spend a lot of time preparing my music for the shows, I never have a pre-made playlist. It’s all in the moment, reading the crowd and by the seat of my pants. For me, it’s all about the mood and playing those tracks that get you tapping your feet and nodding your head without you realising it, regardless of the genre, tempo, style or release date! Basically, I’m very much like the house band, supplying music for the dancers, filling every gap with just the right music for that moment. As a DJ there is no better feeling than seeing a packed dance floor, feeding off the music you’re playing and that’s what’s so special about DJing for Ultra Ballroom. I love music and being able to share this passion makes me love every minute of what I do!!!”
The Master of Ceremonies
Tom Best is a professional Master of Ceremonies who has worked all over the world hosting events and being the voice at football matches. He always brings something special to the ballroom events. He introduces the couples and brings the crowd along with him and creates a fabulous atmosphere on the night. Here are his thoughts on those very special evenings.
“When I was first approached to host the Ultra Ballroom events, I have to admit, I was a little nervous as it was somewhat out of my comfort zone compared with football, boxing and mixed martial arts events that I was used to. There was no need for me to worry though as Ultra Ballroom has proven to be the most positive, colourful, and joyous events that I could have dreamed of. I am continually astonished as to the standard of routines that can be achieved in just 8 weeks, and the costumes on the dance floor (and sometimes in the crowd) just blows me away. I am thrilled to be a small part of such wonderfully inclusive events, which bring people together, learning new skills and making new friends for life, and raising money for such a truly worthwhile cause. See you on the dance floor!!”
The Event Rep
Tom Digby is one of Ultra Events area representatives in the North of England, he is in the unique position of having both organised and taken part in a ballroom event, here are his thoughts on how the event was for him as an organiser and as a participant.
“I took part in the Halifax event and it was the best yet most nerve-wracking experience of my life.”
“I have boxed in front of big crowds, delivered speeches and presentations to even bigger crowds too but this event had me more nervous than I’ve ever been.”
“I started training without a partner but was soon matched up with Lauren and we chose to do the waltz… I couldn’t move quick enough for the jive but I’m used to swanning around with my chest puffed out so the waltz it was.”
“We started off slowly with phenomenal teachers helping us with our posture, hands. Arms, legs, and more importantly steps and timing. After the first few weeks of learning basic steps we stepped up our efforts, chose a song, and with a lot of help choreographed a routine to include spins, lifts, spinning lifts, and lifts with spins. From being complete novices to start with the judges were very impressed on the night and knew nothing about my backstage anxiety, nausea, and shakes ( not the same for my dance partner).”
“When we stepped onto the stage the music started and we danced our hearts out. Beauty and the Beast was our song and we loved it. To do something so out of our comfort zone and smash it like we did, as all the group did was truly amazing. One of the best experiences I’ve ever had…I’m not bitter that we didn’t win in the slightest …. honestly 🕺🏼💃🏻”
“As the event organiser I have to look after the participants from signing up and registration through to dance choices, song choice, support with tickets and fundraising, and arranging and delivering a phenomenal show on the night. Lots and lots of work but… easier than learning to box step, reverse turn and lift… bow and take a raucous standing ovation from a loving crowd.”
“The transformation from the first session to the show is always a hugely fulfilling time. Costumes, music and sound, light and judges .. out of this world. When the nerves kick in your crowd make the difference between a misstep and a step with confidence, the difference between a score of 7 and one of 10.”
“I’ve boxed, run, cycled, swam and danced for charity so I know it’s on the dance floor where those supporters really make a difference 🕺🏼💃🏻”
The best experience!
So there you have it, a special night from so many different perspectives. The one thread that runs through all of this is the clear joy of those watching and taking part. It truly is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that will not be forgotten whether you are dancing, watching, or working hard in the weeks beforehand to make sure it’s a success. The one thing that is clear is the passion from everyone…. Teamwork really does make the Dreamwork.