A dance class set up as ‘a bit of a hobby’ has grown so huge that founder Debs Forsyth has resigned from her job to run it full time.
The Midlife Movers sessions started in Sandwich 12 weeks ago but demand exploded – resulting in classes opening in Thanet, Deal, Dover, Folkestone and, this week, Canterbury.
Mum-of-five and nan of five – soon to be six – Debs, says the idea came after her search for a dance class suitable for herself proved impossible.
The 54-year-old, from Sandwich, said: “I used to always dance and over the years took some little classes but they didn’t suit me. I did a Clubathon but it was all 90s anthems and was quite high impact so I started to think I could do something myself.
“One Sunday morning I did a little post on one of my Sandwich (facebook) pages about having a little dance class in a hall with 70s and 80s music and the rest is history!
“A couple of days later I had my trademark log and a venue for the Sandwich class and I was relentless, putting the idea on every local noticeboard and it worked.
“Two weeks later I had a venue in Deal, where there are around 100 members. So I now have Sandwich, two classes in Deal, Dover, Folkestone and three classes in Thanet and one in Canterbury with people asking for them all over Kent and beyond.”
The Midlife Mover classes are aimed at those aged 40 and over. Some members are slightly younger but most are in their 50s,60s and 70s with three members in their 80s.
The classes are to disco music and are flexible. Debs said: “No-one has to be perfect, it’s about having fun. People do what they can and might want a sit down and a drink.
“A lady in her 70s who follows my classes said ‘we all grow up dancing, then it is just the odd wedding and then there is nothing. Midlife Movers has given us dancing back.’
“There is old time dance clubs but nothing else anything like mine.”
The format has proved so popular Age UK has paid for sessions over a 6 week period in Sandwich and may be extending this to Thanet, Dover, Deal and Folkestone.
Debs says the explosion in dance sessions is a bit of an accident but, with around 300 members, she has now handed in her resignation for her work in the community job and is going to run Midlife Movers full-time.
She said: “It was such a simple idea and now I feel I have to run with it. Instead of fitting it around work I can dedicate all my time to it and make a Midlife Movers army!
“I love it. It is a wonderful, accidental phenomenon.”
In Thanet the classes run at Minster Old School Hall on Mondays from 5.30pm-6.30pm and then at Chilton primary from 7pm-8pm and on Thursday at Church House, Birchington, from noon to 1pm. Debs is also looking for a suitable venue to start sessions in Broadstairs
Cost is £3.50 a session. Debs said: “It has never been about the money. I love that it is getting people moving and getting people together and giving people something to enjoy like a great big, magical melting pot.”