The 32nd Cambridge vs Oxford Varsity Dancesport match was held at the St Ivo Centre in St Ives, on the 7th of May. With the two teams being ranked 1st and 2nd in the country following the national student dance competition in Blackpool in March, it looked like it was going to be a close run competition.
Dancesport is the term given to competitive Ballroom and Latin American dancing – a pastime that has grown increasingly popular with students, particularly following the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing Series. Oxford have in fact been coached by Strictly Come Dancing's Ian Waite and Cambridge have been coached by Anton Du Beke and Erin Boag.
The Cambridge team is also coached by Ipswich-based Bruce Lait and two ex-Cambridge students who have just turned professional – Paul Walker & Dave Mallabone. Cambridge Dancers' Club now has 2000 student & non-student members (it is believed to be the biggest dance club in Europe) and is now running beginners classes six days a week to cope with the high demand.
The Varsity match consists of eight couples from the Oxford team dancing against eight couples from the Cambridge team in a waltz, quickstep, cha and jive. Couples are placed 1-8 in each heat and then their marks are added up to give an overall total. The performance of the dancers determines whether or not their university will award them blues. The sport is a 'Full Blue' sport in Oxford for the women, but has been a 'Half Blue' sport for women in Cambridge since 1991 and for men since 1999. There were nearly 100 competitors and 100 spectators taking part at this year's match.
The second Team match was the closest of the two competitions and we were unsure what the final result would be; however it was not to be Cambridge's year and they had to settle for the second place slot behind Oxford again. Oxford gained 1320 points overall and Cambridge gained 1560. The best Cambridge couple in the B team were Florian Wansel and Mai Trinh, but special mention should also be given to Alex Marsh and Mary Issit from APU who performed particularly well in the match and won the beginners competition at varsity. This follows their victories in the beginners category at all the university competitions all year..
The main Varsity match saw a much stronger Oxford team as Cambridge unfortunately lost two of their main ballroom couples through ineligibility by the Blues rules. Despite the strength in Latin, the overall score was Oxford 1142 points and Cambridge 1738 points. That gives overall total of the number of Dancesport Varsity matches won: Oxford 22; Cambridge 10. The best Cambridge couple in the A team were Scott Bradley and Nicola Gray. Half blues will be awarded to eight Cambridge University Dancers: Stephen Ward & Cat Harris; Chris Horner & Joanne Chapter; Scott Bradley & Nicola Gray; Robert Hiersemenzel & Rebecca Knickmeyer.
Cambridge had great success in the Salsa and Rock and Roll competitions, easily dominating both events.
More information about Cambridge Dancers' Club and its teams can be found at: www.cambridgedancers.org