I came to this country in 1975.
When I came here I was going to be an instructor, not a dancing instructor, but an instructor in a University. That was my goal.
I went to lecture in Lancaster University, Manchester University. I met my first girlfriend, and she wanted me to dance salsa. She had seen people dancing salsa. I did not want to dance salsa, as I had only done ballroom dancing.
|Uncle Phil at Newcastle Salsa Congress
At the time that she met me, I was a professional author. I had my
own shop and did very well, playing golf. And as the business was going
down, and I was taking her out. I decided to take her to Salsa, and
that’s when I saw the dancing.
Dirty Dancing was just coming out at the time, and I thought this could be really good.
It could be really romantic for us. So I started attending classes. But within 2 years, because I already had skills in dancing, people where demanding that I should teach them.
I was the best in the classes. That motivated me. So I started teaching in 1994. Up to 95′, 96′ and my class was up to 70 – 80 people per night. I decided to quit for Salsa. I was a social worker then, so I decided to quit. My business at the golf club was also not doing good and I was getting into debt.
So I thought I’d just do some Salsa. I was also buying properties, buying houses and stuff. Then the business just peaked out. I was the only one from here to Scotland, apart from my teacher. My teacher was a policeman. He was old and didn’t want to travel, he didn’t want to be known as the Salsa teacher because of his job.
So I started to go around. Up to Scotland, to do the promotion for Salsa.
In the North of England, including Cumbria, about 75% of people have been taught by myself- people gone through Salsa North West.
From that – and because of the demand – I started to go for competitions and going through competition stages. I had partners here and there, but they where letting me down. They wanted me to pay for their boyfriend’s travel to the competitions and there came a time when I thought about my sister’s kids.
The little girls. I’d coach them. Even if I travel with them, spending the money I am actually developing my own girls. That’s how I started the three girls, and because they where my nieces:
They used to call me “Uncle Uncle Uncle!” and people started making it a joke.
We’d been doing shows, we had been competing all over the world.
We’ve been to Miami and the British championship. We won the European competition which was to do Salsa. We won the world salsa event in 2008 in Austria. Then after I retired because the British dance council did not want me to continue, and then they made me a judge. As dance judicature, you cannot be a competitor because you know the tricks.
I start to become an instructor for other instructors, and it became a business. I have qualified a lot of people, I train them and they go for exams. Because of these two things, I started hosting the championship itself.
I started hosting the British championship. You cannot organize an official British championship without my authority, you see, as I have the license. I started hosting the competition in Preston and then we decided to go to Bolton. Which is a massive competition, all competitors coming for miles. But it was getting too clustered for me then I lost the sponsorship.
So I started to organize the congresses. Because I had been doing that, all my students all my friends they come up and do all sorts of things. But they do that, I have not stopped to assist them as I am here to assist Sam because we need so many people to dance, and also make a business.
So you see that’s why people respect me, because I’m here to assist on those grounds.
As you grow older, you’re not there to lead. You have to leave. They can take the skills that you are offering.
I’m trying to pass on to the people and encourage them. This is really fantastic.
To dance. Everybody has got a dance in them, I would encourage that. There is a lot of benefits to dancing, not just the physical benefit of it or the mental benefit of it. You getting on with people, meeting people its so fun. But you have to be careful, its an addiction.
You can get addicted.
I can tell you. Some of the people that I’ve seen, and that has arrived. I was in Cyprus just a few months ago, and they where there. I was in Bristol, they where there. In Birmingham, they where there. Now they are here!
People save weeks and weeks just to come out, and it becomes part of there life.
I would encourage anybody to go dancing.
The exercise you do, you don’t even realize that you are actually doing it but still enjoying it. That’s good if you want to live long.