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Dancing at St Dunstan

Dancing was a not only a form of excercise for the blind veterans but was also the most popular indoor recreation at St Dunstan's.

An example of a dance certificate

Dancing at Blind Veterans UK has its origins in our early days at St Dunstan's Lodge in Regent's Park. The blind veterans decided to give a dance in honour of the V.A.D.'s (the British Red Cross volunteer nurses who helped care for them) but were not sure whether they would have the skills. So they roped in a dancing teacher and assistant who were tasked with teaching the veterans - some who had never danced a step in their life. They would often practice with the V.A.D's (who didn't know of the veterans plan to honour them) until the invitations were finally sent out.

The ball was such a success that dancing became the most popular indoor recreation at St Dunstan's. Veterans had at least two dances every week, one for beginners including one for beginners. Competitions were included and other famous dancers took part in teaching, judging and presenting prizes.

Dancing continued to be popular over time with the blind veterans and new styles were taught. In 1957 Miss Marguerite Vacani, one of the original dancing teachers in Regent's Park who also founded the Vacani School of Dance and whose pupils included the Queen, returned. She taught a Charleston class at our centre at Ovingdean, Brighton and had the veterans rock and rolling all night