Since 1988, hundreds of happy pairs of feet have pounded their way through tap routines at Janet Austin’s dance classes.
The Brighouse woman who has put a spring into the step of numerous dancers is celebrating the 25th anniversary of starting her first class. Her efforts to spread the word about the joys of tap dancing have been so successful that she now runs three classes - two at Waring Green Community Centre in Brighouse and one in Huddersfield.
More than 40 members of the Janet Austin Tappers kicked off their silver celebrations with a summer dinner at the Auctioneer restaurant and a tongue-in-cheek awards ceremony to mark the year’s achievements. Janet said: “I made it a little bit more special than usual with balloons on the tables and gift boxes for everyone. I also took all the press cuttings and photos I have collected since the class started and displayed them on boards around the room for the Tappers to look at. We had a fabulous time.” Janet said she decided to start the class in 1988 when dance lessons she was attending folded. “I was a bit apprehensive because I hadn’t taught dance before but the classes just took off. Initially we had a lady who played the piano for us but after a while we started using recorded music. The whole emphasis has been on having fun. Tap-dancing is a total tonic - if you’ve had a bad day or are feeling a bit down, getting out on the dance floor is a great way to leave your troubles behind.”
The Tappers have taken part in 17 Roy Castle Tapathons (pictured above at North Bridge Leisure Centre)and helped to raise thousands of pounds for the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation. They also helped to recreate Roy Castle’s famous record-breaking tap routine at BBC Broadcasting House on The One Show in March. “That was a fantastic day that has stayed in all our memories,” said Janet. The celebrations have continued with a summer soiree at Janet’s home and in August there will be a picnic in the park in Huddersfield. In September there will be a bowling evening and the date the first class started in October will be marked with a get-together. “Tap dancing seems to be more popular than ever - and I would not have predicted that,” said Janet.