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Monday, 8 July 2013

The International Sequence Dance Circle


The International Sequence Dance Circle was formed in 1944 by  F.J.Mainey, who at that time was based in Cleveleys near Blackpool.

He thought the time was right to revive Old Time social dancing but he was determined to make it happen nationally, not only on the Fylde Coast. He contacted many people and slowly his enthusiasm and firm belief in his ideas gained momentum and his newly formed society was named - The International Sequence Dance Circle.

He had the foresight to use ‘Sequence’ in the title, not ‘Old Time’ and branches were soon formed all over the UK, also in Belgium, Denmark, Norway and Canada. Harry and Jess Ashworth (Audrey Singleton’s parents) joined the first ISDC club opened in Blackpool and very soon Harry, a renowned musician and musical director, became F.J. Mainey’s right hand man, opening his own dance club in Preston in 1946, the first one in the town.

F.J. held his first ever ISDC Festival at the Blackpool Winter Gardens in 1944, and then moved to the holiday camps at Prestatyn and Filey in the early 1950’s. All were very successful. In the mid 1950’s he approached the Isle of Man Tourist Board and they were very keen to hold a Festival on the Island. So the popular ISDC Isle of Man Festival began, which attracted over 2000 dancers to the Island for a week of dance, competitions and spectacle. Two ballrooms were used during the Festival week, the Palace Ballroom, the largest in Europe, and the Villa Marina. Live bands played for the dancers including, on more than one occasion, the Ivy Benson Orchestra.

F.J. suffered ill health during the latter part of the 1950’s and relied more and more on Harry and Jess. When F.J. died in 1960, Harry kept his promise to F.J. and took over the running of ISDC and the Festival, continuing to build up the business with his exceptional organising ability. His daughter Audrey and her husband Stuart Singleton joined forces and ISDC became a family affair.

Harry and Jess Ashworth were consummate professionals and Stuart and Audrey followed the same ideals and standards. Following the death of Harry after a short illness in 1975, Stuart & Audrey took over the directorship of ISDC and the organising of the Festival, despite having to overcome personal tragedy when their eldest daughter, Diane, died suddenly in 1981.

The Festival was held in Douglas, Isle of Man, for the final time in 1984, when Stuart & Audrey decided to transfer the event back to the mainland for the first time in 27 years. The Festival was subsequently held in Harrogate for 4 years, then Llandudno, North Wales, for a further 4 years.

It was now proving so popular that a larger ballroom was needed. Fortunately, the fabulous Spa Ballroom at Bridlington, East Yorkshire, welcomed the ISDC Festival to the town and the first Bridlington Festival was held in 1993 and continues to host the annual ISDC Festival to this day.
Besides the Festival, the ISDC Association has Areas across the UK with professionally qualified members who work together to promote sequence dancing, hold annual rallies and donate thousands of pounds to many charities every year.

ISDC always welcomes new members as long as they are qualified with a recognised Professional Dance Teachers Association and actively involved with the running of Sequence Dance Clubs.

The ISDC Festival at Bridlington is not only for ISDC members, everyone and all social sequence dancers are most welcome. The ISDC Inventive Dance Competition is recognised by the British Dance Council (B.D.C.) and open to Professional Members of Associations affiliated to the B.D.C

Stuart Singleton is sadly no longer able to be involved in the organisation of ISDC due to ill health, However Audrey, now joined by their youngest daughter Jill Whitter, continue as Directors and are committed to taking the ever popular ISDC Festival from strength to strength.

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