Fun and funk in your fifties - Haven't Stopped Dancing Yet!
Nikki Spencer, founder of Haven’t Stopped Dancing Yet! 70's and 80's throwback disco events, shares her story with Hot Flush.
It all started when Haven’t Stopped Dancing Yet, the1977 track by Gonzales, came on the radio late one Friday night. I think I may have even leapt in the air and yelled “that’s it!” and the idea of doing my own 70s & 80s soul, funk and disco night really started to come together.
I had been thinking about it for a while, but those words “Haven’t Stopped Dancing Yet” just summed up what I was feeling. I was in my late 40s and I loved to dance to all those feelgood tunes, so why shouldn’t I still dance?
I had split from my kids’ father and every other weekend they stayed with him. I actually had ample opportunity to go out dancing but where could I go? One night I tried to go clubbing in central London with a friend but we didn’t even make it through the door. The long queue and the possible humiliation of being turned away for being too old was all too much to bear and we ended up heading home and dancing around my kitchen table instead.
I used to work as a TV producer, so I was used to organising things. I booked a venue, a fabulous ballroom in Greenwich near where I live, found a couple of vinyl DJs and started selling tickets.
What helped hugely was an article about the planned night in the local paper. Up until then I didn’t know if it was just me and a few friends who still wanted to dance to the music we grew up with, but my phone didn’t stop ringing with people saying, “I’ve been waiting years for this!”.
Over 250 people turned out for that first night in 2010. Eight years and demand has just grown and grown. We run about ten events a year in north as well as south London and we do private events and festivals too. We are also taking the club to Brighton in October.
Life in your forties, fifties and beyond can be tough when you are trying to juggle everything and hold it all together: children to bring up, parents getting older, us getting older, illness, issues of self-confidence, anxiety and, of course, the menopause, so for just one night people love that they are able to forget about it all and just dance.
There are numerous scientific studies showing that dancing is one of the best things we can do. Not only is it brilliant exercise and makes us feel good, but apparently it can even stave off dementia, so it’s win win, I reckon.
HSDY nights are really unlike anything else you will ever go to, and that is down to the fabulous vinyl DJs we have, our wonderful dancers, who get everyone up and partying from the outset, and last but certainly, not least, the people who come along.
We get lots of regulars who come back again and again, but there are always new people too, who have heard about us from friends, read about us in Prima or Stella magazine, or found us when they have googled ‘club nights for the over 40s’.
For me the best bit about running HSDY is that I get to work and party with some amazing people.
There have been so many wonderful stories over the years: the couples who have met and moved in together after meeting on the dance floor, the group of women who all came to party in memory of their best mate who had died of cancer, the widow in her 40s who has got her groove back after coming to HSDY. The memory that still brings a tear to my eye, is of the friend who checked herself out of the hospice for the night, so she could have one last dance.
I love seeing families clubbing together: there’s a photographer in his 30s who brings his parents, mums come with their daughters in their early 20s, a wonderful woman celebrated her 70th birthday with her daughter and friends. We never put an upper, or lower, age limit on coming to HSDY, it's more a state of mind and attitude.
We give 10% of profits from HSDY nights to cancer research. Both my parents and so many of my friends have been affected by cancer and I love the fact that when we are partying our socks off we are helping Cancer Research UK at the same time.
I’m now 57 and whilst some of my contemporaries are taking early retirement I seem to have become an accidental club promoter - and I love it!
It has changed my life in so many ways, not least my wardrobe. I have always loved clothes but this has taken it to a new level with an ever-expanding collection of retro jumpsuits and shiny shoulder padded numbers. A memorable moment, not long after I started HSDY, was when my youngest daughter, who was going through that ‘deeply embarrassed by mum’ phase, came into my bedroom, saw a pair of silver shorts on the floor and yelled “Don’t you EVER wear those!”. I simply smiled sweetly back at her and said, “Too late darling, I wore them last night”.
Thankfully she is much cooler about it all now and comes and parties at HSDY when she is home from university. Though she still leaves the dressing up to me, I certainly haven’t stopped dancing yet!
Nikki Spencer and her team from Haven’t Stopped Dancing Yet organize amazing disco nights for those of who still want to boogie. Hot Flush and friends danced the night away with them recently. See what a great night we had in our HSDY vlog, even with Jo's broken ankle! Their next events are taking place:
23rd June, Stanley Halls, Croydon
7th July, Islington Assembly Hall.