A Brief History of the ISDC

ISDC was formed in 1944 by a man with great vision and an even greater dream. That man was F.J.Mainey, who at that time was based in Cleveleys near Blackpool.

He thought the time was right to revive Old Time social dancing but he was determined to make it happen nationally, not only on the Fylde Coast. He contacted many people and slowly his enthusiasm and firm belief in his ideas gained momentum and his newly formed society was named - The International Sequence Dance Circle.

He had the foresight to use ‘Sequence’ in the title, not ‘Old Time’ and branches were soon formed all over the UK, also in Belgium, Denmark, Norway and Canada. Harry and Jess Ashworth (Audrey Singleton’s parents) joined the first ISDC club
opened in Blackpool and very soon Harry, a renowned musician and musical director, became F.J. Mainey’s right hand man, opening his own dance club in Preston in 1946, the first one in the town.

F.J. held his first ever ISDC Festival at the Blackpool Winter Gardens in 1944, and then moved to the holiday camps at Prestatyn and Filey in the early 1950’s. All were very successful. In the mid 1950’s he approached the Isle of Man Tourist
Board and they were very keen to hold a Festival on the Island. So the popular ISDC Isle of Man Festival began, which attracted over 2000 dancers to the Island for a week of dance, competitions and spectacle. Two ballrooms were used during the Festival week, the Palace Ballroom, the largest in Europe, and the Villa Marina. Live bands played for the dancers including, on more than one occasion, the Ivy Benson Orchestra.

F.J. suffered ill health during the latter part of the 1950’s and relied more and more on Harry and Jess. When F.J. died in 1960, Harry kept his promise to F.J. and took over the running of ISDC and the Festival, continuing to build up the business with his exceptional organising ability. His daughter Audrey and her husband Stuart Singleton joined forces and ISDC became a family affair.

Harry and Jess Ashworth were consummate professionals and Stuart and Audrey followed the same ideals and standards. Following the death of Harry after a short illness in 1975, Stuart & Audrey took over the Directorship of ISDC and the organising of the Festival, despite having to overcome personal tragedy when their eldest daughter, Diane, died suddenly in 1981.

The Festival was held in Douglas, Isle of Man, for the final time in 1984, when Stuart & Audrey decided to transfer the event back to the mainland for the first time in 27 years. The Festival was subsequently held in Harrogate for 4 years, then Llandudno, North Wales, for a further 4 years.

It was now proving so popular that a much larger ballroom was needed. Fortunately, the fabulous Spa Royal Hall Ballroom at Bridlington, East Yorkshire, welcomed the ISDC Festival to the town and the first ISDC Bridlington Festival was held in September 1993. The Festival remained in this magnificent ballroom for the next 25 years.

Besides the Festival, the ISDC Association Regional Areas have worked across the UK, with professionally qualified members who regularly came  together to promote sequence dancing, held annual rallies and donated thousands of pounds to many charities every year.

Stuart Singleton (Director of ISDC 1975-2011) attended his last ISDC Festival in 2011 before sadly no longer being able to be involved in the organisation of ISDC, due to ill health. However, Audrey continued to organise and direct the Festival along with her youngest daughter Jill Whitter.


It was with heavy hearts that Audrey & Jill made the decison to bring the ISDC & The ISDC Festival to a close and the ISDC Dance Festival took place for the final time, playing out to a capacity audience, at the magnificent Spa Royal Hall Ballroom, Bridlington, on 16th September 2018.


Audrey & Jill would like to express their sincere gratitude to everyone involved with the ISDC Dance Festival and thank everyone who have supported the ISDC over the years.


Below are some images from the ISDC Festival through the years:




Inglewhite Road  




Call us:

01772 785525 


See our NEWS page for the latest information about ISDC and the ISDC Festival.



Images now added to the GALLERY section from the 2018 ISDC Dance Festival - 'The Final Farewell' Many thanks & photo credits to: Elissia Whitter, Lesley Marshall, Matt Whitter, David Whitter, Larry Green, Marcus Lonyon, Collette Tyler, Steven Shaw and The Spa, Bridlington


 Photo's added to the GALLERY section from the 2016 and 2017 ISDC Festival. Thank you to Elissia Whitter, Larry Green, Lesley Marshall, Avril Watkins, Kelly Sloan & Ellen Harrison for the photo's.


Visit our 'GALLERY' sections to see photo's from past ISDC Festivals.

Plus - fun photo's from the 2014 70th Anniversary Festival Photo Booth can you spot yourself and your friends?


 PHOTO'S from our 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 & 2018  ISDC Festivals are in the Home Page 'Gallery' section.




For all your questions


Print Print | Sitemap
© The International Sequence Dance Circle