Wasaga Beach, Ontario, Canada
"Rain" they said on the radio, but we were having none of it; it was the weekend for 'Dancin' For Miracles' and the sun was going to shine! For sure it did and it was an absolutely gorgeous few days with breathtaking sunsets. It is the time for the annual pilgrimage to Wasaga Beach for Ontario line dancers. It is the opportunity to catch up with friends you don't necessarily see very often; to have an adventure with your little group; to make some new friends and, of course, to be part of the biggest cancer fund raising line dance event in Canada and this was the 11th year.
Everyone has their favourite place to stay when they get there. There is a lot of choice with motels, hotels, cottages, condos and so on. Wherever you stay you will have fun if other line dancers are staying there as well!! The staff say they love line dancers at the place where we stay. They reckon we are really happy and fun-lovin' people so there's a compliment!!
Of course, dancing and fund raising are the main aims of the weekend but quite a few dancers add in some extra days so they can take advantage of all the attractions the area has to offer. Strolling the long sandy beach is a real stress reducer and you can also play golf or head out on a scenic hiking path.
The event starts with a dance on the Friday evening and as always the instructors were "in for it" with no choice but to play one of Valarie's fiendish games while the audience roared with laughter .... it's a kind of initiation!! Lots of dancin' the first evening. Our much loved DJ Lynn Warden had to go to a wedding (the wedding couple obviously didn't have their priorities straight choosing this particular weekend!) but Dan Morrison and Mike Bishop ably pressed the buttons on the controls until Lynn came back Sunday morning.
Saturday morning started bright and early with Jenny Johns and a zumba session enjoyed by the dancers. A troupe of ballet dancers taught a dance written by Rose Turcotte to a Stompin' Tom Conner song that had us in giggles. Then time for instruction, the list of dances follows below. Dan took to the floor first and his dances are always popular. Betty Standish followed, her first time teaching here., what a sweet lady she is. We were pleased to have Margo Cameron next up on the stage ... Margo is a very clear and capable instructor. Croc (aka Robert Young) kicked up his heels and we tried to follow suit!! Sue McFarlane from Ottawa, first time here and she had already spent hours helping with the set-up the day before. Michel Cabana also from Ottawa taught one of his own creations, Double Trouble (Cathy M and Kathy K) as always had us laughin' while we were learnin'! Popular Fred Buckley dedicated one of his dances to wife Eddie, it is their 25th wedding anniversary next week, so congratulations to you both. Another first timer, Laura Koetje, did an excellent job of teaching despite a very painful ankle. Meanwhile Mike Bishop and Deb Leveque and Pat & Joe Pallas were putting the couples through their paces.
And so the day went on as we danced, laughed and caught up on all the news! In addition we joined in the "Penny Sale", "Raffle Table", "Chinese Auction" and "Minute To Win It". No-one ever leaves this event empty handed and there are wonderful gifts to win. Thanks as always to Valarie's Mum, Mrs. Betty Keller, who coordinates the Auction and was there despite just getting over shingles. "Minute To Win It" was a new game and the participants certainly were good sports. The top three won terrific prizes ... first prize was a laptop computer to Laura Koetjie, second prize of a weekend in Niagara Falls went to Michel Cabana and Geri Amyot won a $50 gift certificate for Home Depot. It is just unbelievable how much work goes into collecting all the prizes during the year, let alone sorting them out and then getting them to the venue and setting them up. It takes hours and hours but to all the volunteers do know that we sincerely appreciate all your efforts. I should add here that the 'Crazy Soles' from Ottawa handed to Valarie a cheque for over $2000. They raised this money over the past year through demos, garage sales and so on.
Saturday evening we were entertained by the Country Cruisers who always have something new and different, what a talented group they are, led by the creative Lena Kovacs. We also enjoyed seeing some of our instructors participate in one of the dance routines. The outfits the dancers wore for the evening dance were entertainment in and of themselves as well! The theme was 'Dance Around the World' and some of the costumes sure were far flung!!!
Sunday morning, lots of review "Did we really learn that only yesterday?" was one of the refrains .... typical line dancers!! We ate well again with the $3.00 lunch, many thanks to the volunteers who prepare these nutritious lunches for us and in the mornings there is always coffee, fruit and cookie bars for us when we arrive.
The organizational reins of 'Dancin' For Miracles' are held firmly in the hands of the extremely capable and seemingly inexhaustible Valarie Keller. Valarie is backed up by a dedicated team of volunteers which includes many members of her family and friends, as well as line dancers themselves. One new helper said to me that she was astounded that part of the set-up involved scrubbing the stage as it was filthy. This was just one of the many behind the scene tasks that needed to be carried out before the dancers entered the hall. When we arrived, the hall was as always nicely decorated and we were greeted by warm smiles and friendly welcomes despite those many hours already put into preparation. Many many thanks to Valarie and her helpers. This is a particularly special event through their efforts and after so many years it feels like family as you step in the hall. Valarie and her team have already started planning for next year's event with a theme of 'Leather & Lace' so check out the Goodwill close to you!!
Dances taught (written by instructor unless otherwise indicated:
Down To The River
Rock This House
Peppy Toe, Jan Wylie
Sleeping Child, Maggie Gallagher
For The Sake of Love, Edwin Cheow
ROBERT YOUNG (Croc):
Tijuana Waltz, Jan Wylie
Two Times (Classic)
Bye Bye Mambo, Helen Conroy Noonan