Photography: Karla Pixeljager
By Pete Meager of the United Kingdom Same Sex Dance Council
This year’s Same-Sex European Championships took place over three days at the end of July at the Gretel-Bermann Sporthalle in Berlin. This large sports hall became home to hundreds of enthusiastic spectators morning, noon and night supporting their favourite dancers from all over Europe. Over 130 couples were entered into both Adult and Senior Latin & Ballroom categories whilst Showdance Couples & Teams also took to the floor fighting for a prestigious European Championship title. This year was extra special, with additional ESSDA 10th Anniversary Grand Slam titles on offer which were made up of a combination of couples results from 2017 competitions at the Pink Jukebox – London, Le Rendez-Vous De Paris, The German Open in Furth as well as the results from the European Championships in Berlin. Being the largest same sex dance competition in the calendar, it never fails to deliver an exciting and highly entertaining event – packed full of the very best of Ballroom and Latin dancing. However, this year the standard was extremely high, and each category seemed to be even more competitive than usual with so many titles on offer and so many countries wanting to stake their claim. The UK was represented by a string of talented dancers winning titles all the way through from D Class (beginners) through to our highest standard of dancers in A Class. We were delighted to see some highly energetic performances from Michael Litke and Sergio Brilhante who once again took first place in Men’s A Class Latin whilst claiming the European Championship title for the first time since they started dancing together at the end of last year. They also came in first place for the ESSDA Grand Slam 2017 in Men’s Latin, closely followed by Peter Meager & Tim Cheng, who tied with Tom Dane and Kevin Haycock for second place for Men’s Ballroom – all of these successful titles being brought home to the UK. The UK also struck Gold when Darren Whitby and Vishesh Mehta took the European Championship title in Men’s Adult Ten Dance – a fantastic achievement as their debut in this category at European level. They also came second in the ESSDA Grand SLAM 2017 Men’s Latin, so a good outcome for them both at many levels. Audiences were entertained by talented couples, Carley Haslem and Mary Matthews who participated in the Showdance Couple section taking Bronze on the podium, whilst Soren & Bradley Stauffer-Kruse wowed the adjudicators and took the UK to Gold! The Pink Dancers (Showdance Team) were also there to defend their European title from Helsinki, but it was a fierce battle this year and they were proud to come in forth place amongst some wonderfully entertaining and very strong Showdance teams from all around Europe. The overall Showdance section was highly competitive and all of the participants gave it their all to fight for a title in this sought after section of the competition. The United Kingdom Same Sex Dance Council (UKSSDC) were out in force with a highly visible UK competitor camp at one end of the Sports Hall, whilst clapping and cheering could be heard from the spectator area all day long from UK supporters who had flown out especially to motivate and follow their friends and family through the competition. It was great to see same sex dancing in Europe at its very best, and the UK playing such a major part in this same-sex dance community.