The Gay Men’s Dance Company (GMDC) exploded onto the scene just 18 months ago and has taken the capital by storm. With its first Charity Gala taking place at the Troxy next month and even more classes set to launch soon, founder Alex Scurr explains why now is the time to showcase the group’s successes.
Hi Alex, how are things? How have classes been going so far this year?
Things are busy! Very good, but busy. We added another three classes to our timetable this year including our drama group, a completely new subject for us, as well as exceeding 300 active members and planning our first – hopefully annual – Charity Gala. Plus I’m launching my own Foundation too, to raise money for existing charities. Everything is good, I’m very happy, but as you may imagine it’s a lot of work and a lot of very different things are happening at the same time.
You have a huge event coming up at the Troxy in East London in April – tell us about it. What can we expect?
The event is a showcase of what the guys have been working on in class but in a more formal setting. It’s a variety show: we have numbers from classic musical theatre – West Side Story; iconic films – Time of My Life from Dirty Dancing; our all-male Single Ladies renamed ‘Single Laddies’; and a Magic Mike– inspired routine as well as many others. Plus we have our choir and our pole dancers performing, as well as a few special guest acts.
The whole evening promises to be uplifting, fun and sexy, but we’re also doing the show for a reason beyond jazz hands and sequins – we’re officially opening my new Foundation, which will be working for and with existing charities to create a healthier and more connected LGBT community. There’s also an afterparty immediately after the show finishes at Troxy, which we may have a few surprises for too…
It’s amazing how much you have achieved with GMDC in such a short space of time. How did the group start?
Thank you! It started in September 2015, I think I had 24 people in that first class. At first I just wanted to have one class that I taught a week where I had full control over what I taught and how it ran. I wanted to have a hobby myself at the time and saw there was nothing for gay men who want to dance, so I thought I’d start it and see if I could make it work. I had no idea it would grow so quickly.
Are you surprised at how quickly everything has taken off?
Yes, incredibly. At the beginning I was working hard, but I think I was lucky with timing and advertising etc, and everything just kind of fell into place. The first six months happened without me really realising. It wasn’t until June last year when I decided I needed to quit my other jobs so I could continue expanding GMDC that it really hit me how big and serious it was all getting…
What have been some of your highlights so far?
There’s been many, from little things like great nights out and social events with the boys to our first GMDC couple, producing our first (smaller) show last year and seeing everyone working their arses off on the day for it. Being nominated and winning bronze in the Boyz Awards was great too. From a company perspective, our first charity event at the Two Brewers raised over £3,000 for London Friend, and Pride In London as an event last year were both amazing achievements. But if I had to pick a personal one it would be winning the GMFA/RVT Sports Day.
You’ve founded The Alex Scurr Foundation, which you’ve been raising funds for through GMDC. What does the Foundation do?
Well it’s not actually officially open yet – not everything is finalised so I can’t confirm too many details – but basically we’ll be hosting various events to raise money and we’ll be working with various existing charities – London Friend, GMFA, Dean Street, ELOP, Diversity Role Models, Positive East and Opening Doors – to assist them in the amazing work that they’re already doing. The idea is that we’re helping to create a healthier and more connected community. Some of our work will be dance/performing arts based, or simply helping to fund existing or new programmes the separate charities run.
Can readers join in any dance class at any point in the month? How can they join?
We work in termly blocks, like at school, and we have four terms a year, usually starting in January, April, July and September. We always hold some trial classes before a new term begins. Anyone of any age, weight, nationality, sexuality, ability – and soon gender – can join at the beginning of a term. This way we can assure progression. If anyone’s interested in joining they can complete the online form at thegmdc.com/join or drop us an email using email@example.com.
Finally, why should people come to the Charity Gala on Saturday 8 April?
Other than the fact it’s for a great cause and it will help our community? Because it promises to be a fantastic celebration of over 100 ‘normal’ guys and everything they’ve achieved in a short space of time. The show will make you laugh, cry and wish you were on that stage with them. One of the main goals I have is to bring some fun to people’s lives, so if you have a job that you’re not insanely passionate about, bored of going out to the same clubs every weekend or have an interest in theatre or the performing arts, why wouldn’t you come?!
The Gay Men’s Dance Company Charity Gala is on Saturday 8 April from 6.30pm at the Troxy, 490 Commercial Road, Limehouse, London, E1 0HX.
Join the Facebook group (@GayMens DanceCompany) and book tickets for the Troxy event via eventim.co.uk.