JUL 10 DANCING 365
www.londonsalsascene.co.uk , photos by Mike Payne
Four years ago, ballroom and Latin American dance instructor Terri Flett took a group of students to a dance weekend at the Piccadilly Hotel in Bournemouth. “It was just a holiday with my students, that was it. When I saw the ballroom, I fell in love,” said Terri, “It was a beautiful space for dancing and the floor was perfect.”
Weeks afterward, Terri had a casual conversation with a local dance teacher friend. “All the teachers who took dance groups to the Piccadilly were worried. The hotel had gone up for sale and there were rumours it would be turned into a conference suite or a swimming pool and the ballroom would be demolished.”
With some 30 years as a dance instructor, Terri has a tight-knit circle of long standing friends on the ballroom scene, many of whom are leading dance instructors and performers. “I knew a lot of the teachers who taught on dance holidays at the Hotel. They approached me and asked if I’d step in and save the ballroom,” Terri recalled.
“It was always my secret ambition; I think a lot of dancers feel the same. I love dance, I’ve always danced, it’s always been my life. I wanted my own place, my own ballroom, where I could teach and share my passion with other dancers. Saving the ballroom mattered to me, I wanted to keep this space open for dancers,” she explained.
It was a huge leap into the unknown. With decades spent as a dance teacher – teaching up to 500 people a week at evening classes and at her dance studio at Ewell in Surrey – Terri had no previous experience of running a hotel. Overnight, she acquired a three star, 45 bedroomed hotel, plus a staff of 40.
It was a steep learning curve for the UK’s first ever dancer-owner of a private hotel. “It was a shock. It was the business side that took a lot of getting used to, dealing with all the health and safety issues, the environmental issues, plus having responsibility for so many staff. Saving the ballroom and the hotel meant taking on a massive mortgage too. I’m very lucky, my husband Stewart has been incredibly supportive and encouraging,” said Terri.
From the outset, Terri had a vision for the new look Piccadilly. She was committed to maximising use of the ballroom with its beautifully kept sprung maple floor, chandeliers and all. There were a fair amount of dance holidays on offer at the Piccadilly, but Terri stepped up the pace. Four years on, the Piccadilly is the UK’s No1 dance hotel, offering dance holidays, classes and events every day of the year. A lover of the art deco period, she brought that passion to refreshing the Hotel in elegant 1920's style.
For dance lovers, there is a huge array of dance holidays and dance styles on offer, taught by some of the UK’s leading experts. On 7th-8th March next year, the Hotel Piccadilly hosts a dance weekend with Strictly Come Dancing favourites Vincent and Flavia. Previously, Strictly’s Anton du Beke and Erin Boag, James and Olla Jordan and Darren Bennett & Lilia Kopylova have all guested at the Hotel. Currently, Terri has opened up the Piccadilly’s dance calendar to include more Latin/Latin American ballroom dances and instructors. Ian and Ruth Walker – formerly undefeated World Latin American Champions – host a mid-week Ballroom, Latin ands Social Dancing break from Sunday 25th to Friday 30th July.
In the meantime, Tango Federico brings authentic Argentine Tango to the Piccadilly from Friday 20th Monday 23rd August. London’s Mr Wonderful is another regular at the Piccadilly – his next event is a Ballroom, Latin American and Social Dancing mid-week break Monday 23rd- Friday 27th August. To learn to dance with Terri herself, there are regular breaks through the year – including an “HMS Piccadilly” a kind of virtual dance cruise, accompanied by themed dinner menus, from Sunday 18th – Friday 23rd July.
As the youngest person on record to qualify as an ISTD Ballroom and Latin American instructor in her teens 1970’s, Terri has a special affinity with young dancers. Resident teachers at the Piccaddilly are Ryan Wilson, 23, and Olesia Kosik, 22 - the youngest ever couple to become professional ballroom instructors and compete in the UK; they are also hosting a week of ballroom, Latin and social dancing from Sunday 12th – Friday 17th September. Attracting more young people to ballroom dancing, Ryan and Olesia run regular bootcamps for students from the University of London and Southampton.
Terri’s vision for the Piccadilly has its roots in a total dedication to dance that began with ballet classes at three years old. Although no one in her family danced, Terri was a natural from the start. While still in her early teens, she started to teach ballroom and Latin American at a local dance school. Within a couple a years, she was right at the top of her dancing career, touring internationally with Peggy Spencer’s Latin Formation team, regularly appearing on BBC’s Come Dancing, and winning hundreds of medals and dance titles all while she was still at school!
“It was all one amazing experience after another,” she says. “The highlight was performing along side Paul McCartney at the launch of his new band – Wings. Dance has given me so much, this is my way of giving that pleasure to other dancers.”
Terri Flett is always looking to introduce new teachers and new dance experiences at the Piccadilly. If you are a dance teacher and want to bring your group to the hotel, or stage your own dance holiday, just contact Terri Flett.
To book a dance holiday and for more: Terri Flett, Hotel Piccadilly, Bath Road, Bournemouth, Dorset
BH1 2NN visit: email: CLOAKING Call: 01202 298024 www.hotelpiccadilly.co.uk