Estimated reading time:8 minutes, 23 seconds
Flame-haired Cate Mackenzie makes finding love a lot of fun. From May she’s running more How To Flirt workshops at a pub near Angel. Or you can be a bit more daring and join a session with her to learn how to love better. Like the best of stories it all starts with just one look… Nicola Baird finds out more.
“Some people say I haven’t produced a boyfriend for them yet. I say ‘I don’t have them in the cupboard!’ A boyfriend will show up when you are ready,” says Cate Mackenzie cheerfully. She’s the most empathetic woman, beautiful, curvy and with a very warm smile who clearly knows how to make flirting a lot of fun. We meet at the picture-filled bohemian Chelsea Arts Club not too far from Sloane Square, an area Islington Faces doesn’t visit much. The good news is that Cate doesn’t rate Chelsea* for flirting. Instead she recommends a trip to… Islington.
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“Go and take an adventure. Dress up and go to Brighton or St Paul’s Cathedral area. I recommend people flirt in Islington – with all its quirky pavement cafes and outdoor places you can relax. It’s rather like Italy. “ This might be stretching anyone’s imagination on a chilly day, even if you know Islington’s long connection with Italy (in Clerkenwell there’s even a Little Italy), but as Cate says: “A lot of what I’m teaching is how to get to be a bit more friendly.”
Fun things to do in Islington picked by Cate Mackenzie
- “I’ve gone to 5 rhythms dancing held at the Old Finsbury Town Hall on Monday nights.”
- “I’ve done stand up comedy at the Camden Head, 2 Camden Walk off Camden Passage.”
- “Islington has some great cafes. Find the little, quirky places! I liked Tinderbox (which was at Angel Central and closed last year). Do you know Candid Cafe? So romantic!”
- If I have a day off I like to wander around with no agenda and have an adventure just like I wandered the streets when I was a child.”
Cate recommends warming up by laughing. “I started doing comedy partly to help me do talks. I try and make the flirting talks funny. I tell a lot of stories and try to get people relaxed and laughing. Belly laughing and having an orgasm is similar, and that’s when you feel most open,” she says and then starts to explain the power of dance and story telling.
“When you are stressed you can’t take in too much. People are tense. Flirting is about being open, so once you are laughing and feeling relaxed in your belly it’s easier to take new information on board and I can go ahead with teaching.”
If this sounds complicated it really isn’t. A group of ticket holders get tips from an international psychosexual therapist, who also has a love column in Spirit & Destiny magazine and is as happy teaching seduction tips to groups as she is helping people with relationship stress. There’s no problem who turns up as Cate’s session is non gender specific and non binary – she doesn’t say men do this, women do that (though any couples will work together). What she does is help people connect and be willing to take a risk that allows them to get connected. That may just be saying hello, a lingering second look, the exchange of a phone number, or the confidence to up your flirting game.
“There’s an assumption that there’s this perfect way and there isn’t,” says Cate reassuringly.
Take a love coach’s tips on how to flirt
From May, every 2nd Tuesday of the month, you can join Cate Mackenzie’s flirting workshops to learn the subtle power of look-smile-connect. But here are some extra pointers:
- F for fun – stop looking for the one and have fun. Make a list of all the things you would like to do and start to do them. You’ll be surprised who turns up when you start to become more present.
- R for release – find the gold in every heartbreak. Even if you’ve had a bullying boyfriend recognise the gift that will make sure you never have that again. And if you do meet someone and it goes wrong you need to learn to release the past. Once you have found the learning in the situation say thank you and let go.
- C for commitment – most people want a signed contract that it is all going to work out without them taking a risk, but it doesn’t work like that. If you really want it, then you also have to be willing to give love a go without expectations. You have to go beyond your own ambivalence. That’s the commitment.
How do you get to be a love coach?
“I grew up in a community street in Battersea,” she says. “I was happy and I’d say hello to anyone. I was allowed to wander the streets from four-seven years old. After school I popped round to my neighbour, Esther, and danced with her to reggae. It was a very mixed culture. My mother was an amateur social worker and our house was often home to pregnant girls, and refugees. It was also a party house. I thought life was like this, happy.”
But when Cate was 12, Esther died suddenly; her parents split and she moved with her mum and her two sisters to a much smaller place in South Kensington in a street which lacked that community spirit.
“I was only a kid so I closed down,” says Cate who was clearly traumatised by the loss of the life she loved. It was only when she went to study sociology in Manchester that she found a new niche as a community artist, teaching dance and drama – what she calls embodiment skills. “I could feel my heart opening again. All my work has helped me become the person I was,” she says.
Considering how much our childhood experiences shape our confidence and relationships as adults, Cate’s experience has undoubtedly helped her better understand, empathise and respond to her clients’ experiences and then find ways to get them to flourish.
Are sex therapists a bit scary?
Cate’s husband, Paul Wogan, is now also training to be a counsellor. “We’ve done stand up together,” she says recalling two shows at the Edinburgh Fringe “but I really appreciate our conversations now. His learning and exploring means we can talk about anything now.”
“As a sex therapist I’m teaching embodiment. It’s where we find our presence and magic and are able to calm down and relax because we’re not in our heads. Each person is different. I dance every day, but for some it is comedy – my husband is really passionate about it – others play golf, or yoga… or even do the ironing,” she says with her characteristic warm smile. Despite her reassurance it is hard to imagine that a spot of ironing could get anyone in the mood for sex.
What interviewing a sex therapist has shown is that it’s not all about sex.
Cate is brilliant at sharing tips on how life can be better if you can find out what helps you forget your daily cares and allows you to be absolutely in the moment. Once you can do that, then you’ll have no trouble saying hello to strangers – even the ones you think might be worth that lingering second look.
- 29 April – 2 May– Mind Body Spirit Wellbeing Festival’s Love Dome for flirting talks (free once you have paid for entrance to the event)
- 10 May 2016 (& every 2nd Tuesday in the month from this date) flirting workshops at The Joker, 58 Penton Street, N1. Book here. Here’s a report about what to expect, published by a local newspaper.
- 5 June Evolve Wellness Centre, South Kensington Open Your Heart to Love Workshop, 1-6pm with Cate
- See Cate Mackenzie’s website http://catemackenzie.com/
- It’s official, Islington is the singles capital of England and Wales, see the story here.
- If you plan to flirt in Chelsea Cate suggests a trip to the V&A, cafes in South Ken, the Saatchi Gallery or the Serpentine Gallery.
Over to you
If you’d like to nominate someone to be interviewed who grew up, lives or works in Islington, or suggest yourself, please let me know, via nicolabaird.green at gmail.com. Thank you.
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This blog is inspired by Spitalfields Life written by the Gentle Author.