40th anniversary waltz for Sheffield dance centre

pictured at the Drapers  Dancing School High St Beighton Sheffield , are Owners Hayley And Scott Draper
pictured at the Drapers Dancing School High St Beighton Sheffield , are Owners Hayley And Scott Draper

Raymond Draper was the first of a long line of Drapers to leave the family tradition of mining.

Instead he chose a career in dancing, starting to teach in rented halls in Killamarsh and Sothall until an old miners welfare hall in Beighton came up for sale.

That’s how Drapers Dance Centre started 40 years ago - an anniversary that will be celebrated on May Day Bank Holiday Monday.

Joining current members will be dancers from the early years, including Bill Vernon, who turned up on the first day only to find nobody else had. There was one pupil the next night and a handful on the third.

Now, buoyed by the Strictly Come Dancing effect, the centre offers 30 adult, 15 children’s and two adult social dances a week as well as coaching for competitive dancers.

Raymond and his wife, Carol, are due to attend the free celebrations on May 6 when memorabilia such as photos and medals will be on display.

Raymond taught their son, Scott, to dance, and when he and Carol, stepped back in 2004, Scott and his wife, Hayley, took over. They have both competed at international level, and Scott’s continued involvement in the competitive world of dancing has seen couples come to Beighton from Germany, Hong Kong and China for coaching.

A third ballroom was opened last year to cope with local interest in everything from ballroom and Latin America to street dance and ballet. “There is definitely still the demand, which has been helped by Strictly Come Dancing and other dance-related programmes,” said Hayley. “It has made dancing a lot more acceptable.”

And the future seems assured. Six-year-old son Max Draper is on the books.