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MumsnetGuestPosts (MNHQ) Fri 30-Jan-15 10:41:08

Guest post: Emma Freud -'why you should join us for the Comic Relief Danceathon'

On Sunday March 8, more than 2,000 people will descend upon Wembley arena for six hours of non-stop dancing - here, Director of Red Nose Day Emma Freud tells us why everyone should put on their dancing shoes for a good cause

Emma Freud

Director of Red Nose Day

Posted on: Fri 30-Jan-15 10:41:08

(1 comment )

Lead photo

'Claudia can't dance either but she does whatever I tell her to do, which is lucky.'

I am the lucky girl who gets to go out with Richard Curtis. Richard is the co-founder and producer of Comic Relief and I'm now director of Red Nose Day (I know, I literally slept my way to the top), and I have a story to tell you about the birth of the First Ever Comic Relief Danceathon.

A group of eight, old (not a euphemism) friends and I decided to do a Dance Marathon for Sport Relief in the playroom of my house. I can't actually dance – I look like a bad granny throwing inappropriate shapes – and to be entirely honest, I really did it to get in shape. Six hours of dancing burns around 3,000 calories, even when you dance as badly as I do. Supporting Sport Relief was a lovely by-product.

I found 12 dance teachers through friends of friends and asked them to come to my house to each teach a 30 minute class. It worked brilliantly – we shimmied, hip hop’d, line danced, street danced, jived, disco’d, raved, tackled some ballet moves and even had a go at Bollywood Bhangra. I don't know that I've laughed as much while sober in decades.

We thought the event would kill us, but actually the only casualties were our ribs, which ached the next day from all the lols. We danced like baboons, exhausted but loving it, and every hour we tweeted, Facebooked and Instagrammed photographs of us in action, looking more and more desperate, sweaty and ridiculous. By the end of the six hours we had over £7,000 on our giving page and felt like masters of the universe. The only deflating moment came when our youngest participant – my 24 year old god-daughter – said that she hadn't danced for that long in ‘like, literally, 2 weeks - I mean seriously, not since Eve's party’. Young people may do this kind of thing a lot, but for us old birds it felt like conquering Everest.

By the end of the six hours we had over £7,000 on our giving page and felt like masters of the universe. Young people may do this kind of thing a lot, but for us old birds it felt like conquering Everest.


The following week I Googled the number for Wembley Arena, rang them and asked if they would give us the space at no profit on Sunday March 8. They agreed (I love those guys) and said we'd need 2,200 sponsored participants to make it really fly. Easy! I thought... Not. The first step was getting my gorgeous friend Claudia Winkleman to host it (she can't dance either but she does whatever I tell her to do, which is lucky for me). The BBC then agreed to trail it on their special Comic Relief show – The People's Strictly - and decided to broadcast the entire thing on the BBC Red Button so that all over the country, people (spoiler alert: I'm already looking at you) could join in from their sitting rooms, gyms, classrooms or village halls.

Rather luckily, the following week I met the leader of the Girl Guides and gave her a Chinese burn until she agreed to get every Guide in the country participating in their Guide Huts. We found a brilliant director, a dancer from Chicago who had staged The Commitments and Monty Python Live - she agreed to direct the event, and together we auditioned the greatest dance teachers in the country. The 12 we found are truly astonishing – they are all giving their time for free, and each doing 30 minutes covering sixties swing, seventies disco, eighties anthems, nineties rave, diva songs, West End Musicals, reggae, funk, Bollywood and, rather spectacularly, Michael Jackson moves. There are no routines or tricky stuff – it will just be a massive number of people following these amazing instructors throwing simple but fabulous shapes.

Next I started pestering Comic Relief friends to come down, so they could take part and dance on stage with the instructors for one of the sections. For some reason, lots of them agreed – even the normally clever ones like Davina McCall, Edith Bowman, Jo Whiley, Rufus Hound, Arlene Phillips, Kimberley Wyatt, Zoe Ball, Sara Cox, Natalie Lowe and Ian Waite.

And so here we are: weeks away from the First Danceathon – with 30 amazing celebrities, hundreds of people already signed up to join us at Wembley, and thousands more committed to doing the BBC Red Button version. The only person missing at this stage is you. So you now have three choices...

1. Sign up for Wembley and join me and Claudia making utter arses of ourselves for an afternoon.
2. Watch it on the Red Button and join in, either with friends or on your Johnny-no-mates own so no one can see your shimmies.
3. Or sponsor me for making such an twit of myself.

No pressure. And thanks for staying with me till this bit.

By Emma Freud

Twitter: @rednoseday

patienceonastatue Sat 31-Jan-15 18:28:19

Argh I might join this, I love to dance and could do with a laugh x

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