Storm in tea cup over Tufnell Park dance classes for over-50s

A STORM is raging over Saturday afternoon tea dances for the over-50s.

To organisers Jayne Rowe and Artur Dabrowski, nothing could be more sedate than waltz and foxtrot sessions in a school hall at the weekends.

But residents are horrified by the plans, claiming that rowdy dancers will spill out of the gates and cause a nuisance if the tea dances at Acland Burghley School, in Burghley Road, Tufnell Park, go ahead.

After months of to-ing and fro-ing, Camden Council has finally granted permission for the classes - but has hit the Carmen Dance tea dance club with a host of conditions in a bid to appease residents.

Ms Rowe, a friend of Strictly Come Dancing star Anton Du Beke, has dismissed the row as a “storm in a tea cup”.

She said: “It was good to get the licence but I was surprised – and still am surprised – by the antipathy of residents.

“I can absolutely understand their concerns about local problems such as litter, noisy children, drug taking and alcohol-related crime and disorder. But our events are going to be far more civilised than that.

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“Our clientele are not normally the type to go out and get involved in that kind of thing.”

The storm erupted when Ms Rowe and Mr Dabrowski applied to Camden Council for permission to stage tea dances at Acland Burghley School on Saturday afternoons and on the odd evening – and asked for permission to serve alcohol in case their dancers, whose average age is around 60, fancied the occasional glass of wine.

As previously reported in the Gazette, Ms Rowe and Mr Dabrowski withdrew the alcohol application - saying their dancers would be perfectly happy with a cup of tea - in the face of mass resident opposition.

But residents were still unhappy – saying the noise and congestion would make their lives unbearable.

Susan Reynolds, of Churchill Road, Tufnell Park, wrote to Camden Council saying: “I live right opposite the school and the noise is already unbearable. Most weeks, we have noise seven days a week even in the school holidays. Please help our lives be better, not worse, than it already is.”

Caroline Noon, also of Churchill Road, insisted the classes would add to an “already very bad parking situation in Churchill Road”, saying: “The road is already too narrow to allow easy passing or parking and the road gets jammed very easily.”

While a petition from Churchill Road residents added that “families and young children will experience sleep disturbance caused by people leaving the venue”.

Camden Council granted permission for Saturday afternoon tea dances at a licensing meeting on Tuesday October 12, but said no more than 120 people would be able to go to any one event, and that all windows and doors would have to be kept closed.

In addition, no more than 12 events year can take place in the evenings, on Fridays or on Sundays.

Ms Rowe said the condition would cause the dancers no problems, but added: “We have held two dances already and I don’t think anybody noticed the difference.”