We often say that the Capital Dance School is the oldest Latin American and Ballroom Dancing School in London – because it’s true. Here’s the timeline of the School:
1937: Gwenethe Walshe arrived in England from her hometown of Wanganui, New Zealand. She was a ballroom dancer, and the bright lights of London resonated with her gracious, elegant spirit and soul.
1938: Gwenethe founded the Gwenethe Walshe School of Dancing, in Baker Street, with the aim of providing high quality Ballroom and Latin dance instruction to the masses, at affordable prices.
1939-1945: Gwenethe worked by day as a Women′s Voluntary Service (WVS) nurse during WW2, and at night continued to teach dancing.
1945 – 1990s: Gwenethe and her first husband and dancing partner, Dimitri Petrides, held the title of Britain’s first Latin American dancing champions, and became fellows and examiners of the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing (ISTD). Gwenethe was instrumental in founding the Latin American arm of the ISTD. She co-authored a book, Ballroom Dancing, with Phyllis Haylor and Peggy Spencer, which is available to purchase here.
1970s: The Gwenethe Walshe School moved around the corner from Baker Street to its current location in the basement of the St James Roman Catholic Church in Blandford St, and continued to offer group classes and private tuition at affordable prices to Latin and Ballroom dancers.
Late 1990s: Gwenethe’s health sadly deteriorated with old age, and so her protégé, Vernon Kemp purchased the school from her, and continued to run the school in her legacy. He changed the name of the school to Central London Dance.
2006: Gwenethe passed away, on the Gold Coast in Australia, surrounded by family. Her legacy remains today in the Latin American Dancing world, especially within the ISTD and across Britain.
2013: John Partington purchased the School, and changed its name once again to the Capital Dance School. Some things have not changed at all though – John continues to uphold the legacy established by Gwenethe, and continued by Vernon of providing high quality dance instruction, alongside some of London’s best dancing teachers, at affordable prices. The School’s loyal, happy group of dancing students forms a strong community in the heart of central London – still in that same quaint studio under St James Catholic Church.