I went to a ceroc dance class this evening. It’s a mixture of jive and salsa, but very different from my usual style in that it’s a party dance.

Cha-cha, samba and jive are the flashy, fun Latin dances, but each needs a particular rhythm. Most songs don’t fit the pattern, so if I go to a party where people are dancing to, say, Girls Aloud, I’m just as lost as every other guy in the room. But salsa and ceroc just need a beat, so are arguably more useful.

Here’s how ceroc is meant to look:

I had a great time. Teacher Lady stood on the stage and demonstrated the steps, then watched as we stepped through them, looking for common problems and fixing them as appropriate. Every couple of minutes she’d call for the women to move along, forcing us to dance with unfamiliar partners. This was entertaining. I did my best to be friendly, and some people reciprocated, and some were…less than cheery, let’s say. Still, most were very nice, and it’s a good way to quickly improve.

The steps themselves weren’t easy, but I can’t pretend they were particularly difficult. Four of us went, and nobody struggled. Our three and a half years of dancing means we can pick up steps pretty quickly, and the ‘taxi dancers’ – very friendly dancefloor helpers – said it was obvious we’d all danced before. The hardest part was not lapsing into jive halfway through, or stepping back to ‘complete’ the step. I did the latter a lot.

Then came forty minutes of open practice, during which we were instructed to ask strangers to dance. I’ll have to build up to this. That kind of thing leaves my comfort zone for dust, and one lesson’s worth of steps isn’t much to offer. Maybe in a few weeks.

The dancefloor was then used for intermediate lessons, but any interested beginners could have a smaller lesson in the corridor. We did, and got to ask questions about the rules of the dance. It’s far less structured than Latin: it doesn’t matter what foot you step forward on, or how you fudge a turn, as long as you make it without falling over. I’m sure that the higher difficulty levels require more thought, but it’s just not rule-based in the same way. This is pretty liberating.

Then came a second open practice session, for all difficulty levels. I plucked up the nerve to ask the taxi dancer to dance, and picked up a couple of tips. I thought this would be the extent of my leaving the shallow end of the pool, but a couple of minutes later I felt a tap on my shoulder, and Teacher Lady asked if I’d like to dance. I should mention that Teacher Lady was about my age, and distractingly attractive. I am incredibly nervous around such people at the best of times, and she was obviously very, very good at ceroc. So I was pretty intimidated as I walked onto the floor. I didn’t make a total fool of myself, though! She was indeed excellent, but it’s always lovely to dance with someone who knows what they’re doing. Admittedly I sent her into at least one jive spin, and made a mistake when – I swear to Darwin – my brain started composing this paragraph instead of thinking about the next step, but generally managed to concentrate and keep up. So that was fun.

The atmosphere was informal and very relaxed, and completely open to beginners. I think I could enjoy this.