Skip to main content
A tea dance in the Borough Hall
Photo by Magda Rakita

Greenwich Dance's Guide to Tea Dances

Posted on:

Greenwich Dance have been hosting tea dances for over 20 years, and now that we are settled within our new home we are bringing them back for all to enjoy!

Read on to find out more about what to expect...

What is a Tea Dance?

A Tea Dance is an afternoon social dance with tea and cake. It evolved from the concept of afternoon tea in the 1880’s and became hugely fashionable in the early 20th century. They’ve enjoyed something of a renaissance in recent years, both with older generations who remember them from first time round and young vintage enthusiasts.

What kind of dancing is it?

Think Strictly Come Dancing! Our host, Peter Meager (of Equality Dance) will play a mix of songs such as the waltz, foxtrot, tango and cha cha cha with a few contemporary classics thrown in. He will also teach you some Sequence dances which are set routines (usually 16 bars long) that are repeated. Peter will announce the dance before each song, so everyone knows what to do.

Do I need to know all the steps?

We are running pre-dance workshops to help guide those new to tea dancing through the steps, and the dances are welcoming to complete beginners. There are sure to be some regulars there who know what they are doing and they are a joy to behold. So fear not - all you need is enthusiasm and if at any point you feel stuck simply approach one of our friendly regulars or Peter who will be happy to lead the way.

Oh. Hang on. There is one golden rule – dance in the same direction as everyone else (we don’t want any collisions!)

Do I need a partner?

It’s traditional to dance with a partner, but you don’t need to bring one. Part of the fun of a social dance is meeting new people to dance with, so you can come on your own. Of course, if you’d rather dance all afternoon with your own partner or friends, that’s fine too. Peter also encourages role reversal so don't think that just because you are man that you need to lead, or vice versa. He'll have you swapping in and out of those gender stereotypes before you can say 'equality'!

Did you mention tea and cake?

Absolutely! There’s a break in the middle for a cup of tea or coffee and a nice, big slice of cake. It’s included in the ticket price – we know all that dancing is thirsty work. We also have a bar open throughout, if you fancy something a little stronger.

What should I wear?

There’s not a set dress code but most people like to dress up - think dresses (especially floaty ones) and smart trousers and shirts for the men, and perhaps a bit of sparkle. Some people wear special dancing shoes but it is by no means essential. Ladies might like to wear a comfortable pair of heels.

Are children welcome?

Yes – we welcome all ages and abilities however it is important that everyone uses the dancefloor for social dancing and not running around to prevent accidents. Children should always be supervised by their parent/carer. Those who don’t like tea or coffee can always have a glass of milk or squash.

Anything else I should know?

Don’t be afraid to ask someone for a dance, and don’t be surprised if someone asks you.

Find out when our next Tea Dances are

it's just magical from Magda Rakita on Vimeo.