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Phyllis Kitley - Dance Lessons

"Originally my grandparents moved to the new town of WGC to facilitate my aunt in setting up a dancing school. As no other halls were available at the time she was able to use the ballroom of the Cherry Tree Hotel for all her classes. 

My aunt, Phyllis Kitley taught alone as far as I know, but she may have had an assistant or two. Her classes ran from when she started in the 1920s until approx 1965-70, and these took place during the week in school term times, after school of course. All ages were catered for. I myself as a small child remember doing basic style ballet around 3-6 years old - toddlers stuff. I seem to remember an assistant at this time. When I was a bit older I joined ballroom dancing from approx 1948-52. I know there were also ballet classes, but I did not join in those. My aunt ran dancing classes which pupils paid for. lt was never a club.

I believe we performed locally for at least parents and so forth but I do not remember much of this. There was always a Young People's dance in the winter for both pupils of the ball room class and any other young people who wished to participate i.e. teenagers and early twenties. I remember wearing a pale green chiffon long dress to one of these, it was a cast off from a relative from pre 1939. At the time there was still clothes rationing.

I did not enjoy these classes as I was often selected to show people how not to do things and then my aunt would sweep in and do things perfectly. I ended up thinking I must be the world's worst ball room dancer! Presumably we did not pay. My aunt's war work was working at the Imperial Hotel Torquay teaching servicemen with spinal and other injuries to ballroom dance etc as a form of physiotherapy.

She subsequently worked there in all the school holidays as a social organiser, putting on dances and balls and arranging bridge sessions etc."

This memory was donated to the Trust's archive by Meryel B during the 'Where Do You Think We Played?' project. The above advertisement for Phyllis Kitley dance lessons appeared in the Welwyn Times in 18 October 1934 and is shown here courtesy Welwyn Hatfield Times.