Tea Dances with a Twist! (TDT) is an intergenerational and inclusive regular event that takes place in central Plymouth. A team of dance practitioners and volunteers have been trained to deliver a dance event that is accessible to people over 50 and for people who are in a wheelchair and/or living with Autism, Dementia, Alzheimers or Parkinsons.
Evaluation of TDT events to date have shown that when surveyed:
1. 74% of regular participants stated that they experienced benefits to their physical health and/or mobility (calculated over a scale of 0 to 5). Besides statistical data, anecdotal feedback further supports improved health benefits as we are aware that a number of participants now regularly attend other related sessions and events, thus increasing their overall activity levels.
2. Just over 81% of regular participants stated what a significant differences the tea dances made to their social well-being (84% stating that events had a positive impact on their mental and emotional health, and 79% having widened their social circles).
3. Through promotional activities we have increased attendance of veterans, their dependants and carers to approx. 27% for each event. The Plymouth Dance Armed Forces Dance Coordinator is actively working on increasing this number further.
So, what happens at a Tea Dance with a Twist!?
The entrance fee is a donation of between £1 - £5, ensuring that there are no economic barriers to attending and each participant receives a voucher for a free cup of tea from the cafe that also sells the most delicious cakes.
Then for 3 hours the participants can listen or dance to a live band with a singer in the iconic venue that is Plymouth Guildhall. The tables are decorated with table cloths and fresh flowers, sometimes in line with a theme, depending on the date (St Patrick's Day, Valentine's Day, Easter, Christmas, Armed Forces Day, etc).
No one sits on their own for more than 5 minutes before one of the TDT team members (easily recognisable in their yellow T-shirts) joins them for a chat or invites them to join them on the dance floor.
“A lady came on her own and was nervous but is very glad she came as people dance together and get involved.”
When the band takes a break, the dancers lead a circle or line dance, enabling all to join in, with or without a partner. Some people are experienced dancers (ballroom, latin or sequence dancers), whilst others are absolute beginners. The music and dancing varies from traditional ballroom and latin, to pop music, jive, swing and rock and roll.
"We are too old to go clubbing and too young for the waltz. This is perfect!"
The event attracts individuals, couples, friends, families (2 or 3 generations), ex-service leavers/veterans and/or their carers and dependents, carers with the person that they are caring for who may be in a wheelchair and/or be living with Autism, Dementia, Alzheimers or Parkinsons, carers and residents from care homes who contact us to reserve a table!
“One of the gentlemen I had the pleasure to dance with today hadn't danced before, or left the house in nearly a year. Today was the first time he had danced since June 2014. He began to dance after his wife passed. He thought it was great that dance practitioners were around to help as he felt embarrassed otherwise.”
A number of new friendships have also been established, particularly between the men attending on their own.
Approximately 33% of those attending are male and 88% are aged over 50. Geographically we attract participants from Plymouth, South East Cornwall and South West Devon.
We have between 85 and 125 people attending each event (depending on the weather), with approximately 600 people on our register, with the majority attending more than one event. The age range has been from 3 and a half weeks to 104 years old.
At each event we encourage participants to tell us what they like and don't like about the event - they do this by either writing on postcards that we provide or by talking to the team who record their feedback on the postcards, which are then placed into a postbox. This feedback, along with the data is analysed after each event and enables us to develop the project each month, in response to the participant's comments. This, in the past, has resulted in the introduction of a raffle or new styles of music and dance. The involvement of the participants and ensuring that we are providing them with the environment and experience that they want is crucial.
To date, we have run 14 TDT events and we have a further 2 planned. This Crowdfunder for £10,000, would enable us to deliver a further 5 events between June and December 2018.
“I thought it was wonderful to see people dancing and enjoying themselves. The tea and cake were delicious. Great atmosphere and welcome. I will spread the word so more people know about it...Just the thing Plymouth needs - people having fun."
Frequently Asked Questions:
1. Why do you need to raise funds for this event when you charge an entrance fee?
The minimum cost of hiring the venue, The Band, the professional dance practitioners and transforming the space into a welcoming and sociable environment is approximately £2,000. The income from "on the door" donations and raffle equate to approximately 10% of the costs for each event. Therefore we need to raise funds from a variety of sources to ensure that this project can proceed and be economically accessible for all.
To date we have received financial support from:
Arts Council England
Awards for All
Drake Foundation/Plymouth City Council
The Royal British Legion
Plymouth City Councillors Community Funds
Corporate donations as raffle prizes (including from Babcock, National Marine Aquarium, Barbican Theatre, Eden Project, H.Watts Florists)
In kind support from CityBus Plymouth and Cornish Tea
We are currently waiting for the outcome of a number of funding applications that, if successful, will support the long term future of this project. However, at present, without the Crowdfunder, we will have to stop the events at the end of March until further notice.
2. Would it not be cheaper to use another venue?
It is true that the hire cost of Plymouth Guildhall is the greatest cost for each event, however, the central iconic and easily accessible location is one of the key elements of the success of the project. Many of our attenders have strong and happy memories of dancing, socialising and performing at Plymouth Guildhall during their younger years, that are rekindled.
The environment created by the Plymouth Dance team is friendly, welcoming and "ritzy". Ensuring that the attenders feel like they have been invited to the best party in town.
3. Why is it called Tea Dance with a Twist!?
Because it is not a traditional Tea Dance! The dance and music memories of attenders ranges from 'Happy' by Pharrell Williams to Classic Waltzes. So, in the course of one event people Jive, Waltz, Cha Cha Cha, Salsa and strut their stuff as Disco Divas. No partner or experience is necessary to be a Tea Dance Twister!
If you have any other questions, please feel free to contact us.