This year Sport Relief takes place from Friday the 18th to Sunday the 20th of March and the theme for 2016 is feeling proud, so, when I was asked to visit one of the many projects that Sport Relief funds here in Wales, I jumped at the chance.
Or should I say, I ‘Ghoomar’d at the opportunity!
I made my way to Barry on a wet and wintery night which was such a contrast to the fact I was going to meet the women from a Vale of Glamorgan all female group who go by the name of the Rainbow Women’s group, I couldn’t help but have a little laugh to myself.
I hadn’t had much of briefing, but what I did know was; I was to be at St Margaret’s community centre in for six o clock, I was meeting a group of women, and I was attending a dance class.
Now, normally the words dance and class in a sentence would send something close to cold shivers down my spine. It’s a long running fact (not, joke, such is its realism) that I have no rhythm. In fact, I have no rhythm, no co-ordination and some real issues with right and left which naturally makes any sort of dancing difficult, but given it was all for a good cause I decided to swish my apprehensions under my ballet pumps!
I was once described as an immobile, intoxicated, left hoofed moose, whist at a friend’s wedding, when I attempted to Let the Good Times Roll via my bottom half, so, I was pleasantly surprised when a very sweet little black and white cat greeted me at the door of the community centre.
Surely this meant I wouldn’t be the actual worst dancer in the building?
‘Lucy. Out.’ A man’s voice shouted and I guessed it was directed at my so far one and only ally. Lucy seemed to roll her yellow eyes before tip toeing her way past me without even as much of a trace of an apology.
‘Traitor.’ I muttered before introducing myself to the man who turned out to be Steve, Steve who seemed to have even less of an idea of what was going on than me.
‘I’m here to blog about a dance class?’ I said eventually after going round the mulberry bush and telling the poor bloke that I was from Merthyr, it was snowing in Merthyr and my mother was worried about me driving ‘all that way’ from Merthyr. Unfortunately for Steve, my nervous disposition comes out in pointless word vomit.
‘Oh you are here for the Bollywood class.’ He told me. And that initial shiver that had tingled when I realised I was actually going to have to dance somewhat gained momentum and felt like a massive thunderbolt of panic hitting me between the shoulder blades.
‘Uh yes?’ I said trying to muster enthusiasm and shush the moose within me.
‘Ah yes, the Rainbow Women.’ He said. ‘They do lots here; Zumba, Pilates, Yoga and now Bollywood!’
‘And what exactly are the Rainbow Women?’ I asked wondering how much of a geek/nerd/idiot I would look if I took my brand spanking new notebook and pen out (purchased especially for the occasion) to start making notes?
‘Well,’ he mused. ‘They are a group of women who provide lots of activities and events for ethnic minority women in the Vale of Glamorgan. Good bunch.’ He added with a smile. ‘Not the most punctual mind!’
‘Activities like Bollywood?’ I said.
‘Just like Bollywood.’ He smiled.
And then before I knew it a whirlwind of blonde hair and bounciness bounded her way over to me with registration forms and a welcoming persona.
‘I’m Diana. The teacher.’ She said in offer of an explanation, and given her feet seemed to be on springs and her eyes sparkled like three million carrot diamonds I suddenly felt even more out of my depth.
‘Bollywood,’ She said in an Eastern European accent which meant I couldn’t help but question her authenticity, ‘is an all over work out. Your eyes, your wrists, your toes, everything moves. You go to gym; you don’t work your eyes or wrists.’ I agreed with her whole heartedly and wondered how one would exercise their eyes but such was her enthusiasm I dared not question it.
The next person I met was Basma Inbasheh, who I now know to be the chairwoman of Rainbow Women, and she was equally as friendly and welcoming as every other person and feline I’d already encountered. Basma explained that, in total, there are 82 members of the group and many different languages.
‘Will there be 82 tonight?’ I asked assessing the hall and clinging on to the fact that if there were 83 of us, 84 including Diana, at least I’d be able to hide should it all get too much.
Basma laughed. ‘Not tonight.’ She said before taking the mere fifty pence fee from me to join in.
In fact, there were fourteen of us all together and without over thinking I just found a space, (as instructed) wiggled my arms, (as instructed) then wiggled my eyes (as instructed) and got on with it, or as Diana would say, I
‘Took a chance on the dance!’ Mind, saying that, she also shouted lots of other things, things like; Bee, lotus, sunshine up, sunset down, boomerang and many other commands I’m pretty sure I missed.
After about ten minutes I couldn’t help but wonder why I hadn’t been introduced to Bollywood before? It was fun, fast and fiery, it was also funny given my left hoof (as previously stated) status, but such was the warmth and encouragement of the Rainbow Women I didn’t feel out of place, out of my depth or even out on a limb! In fact, I felt fabulous which is definitely a form of pride and so I couldn’t help congratulate Sport Relief for ticking all the boxes.
And who wouldn’t want to be told to ‘Shimmy shimmy’ on a Friday night, ey?
So, what did I learn? Apart from the fact, I’m not quite as left footed as initially thought, maybe only three quarters on the scale.
Well, I learnt that the money raised via Sport Relief helps lives of some of the poorest, disadvantaged people both at home and across the World, and half of the money raised by the public is spent in the UK, and it’s given to groups like the Rainbow Women.
I learnt how important groups like the Rainbow Women’s are for support, confidence and community spirit, not to mention health and wellbeing in deprived areas of Wales. It truly was something beautiful to behold seeing women of all colours, cultures and creeds enjoying exercise!
I learnt that Bollywood dancing is a jolly good laugh and I learnt that even though I’ve combated 13.1 miles on several occasions I still have underactive eyes and wrists, which is something I promised Diana I’d work on!
To find out more about the work Sport Relief do here in Wales check out their website: