Spring was very late this year and as we made our way down to the Catskills I was wondering if the blossoms would be at all visible. But they were, which was indeed a good omen again for the Annual Tim Gillis Spring Dance Weekend. That said, no need for any luck, Tim and Rosie know how to "make lemonade from lemons" or something like that, you know what I mean!!
If you have never been to one of Tim and Rosie's events you should know that it is like a cruise on land. Everything you could possibly need for a dance weekend is right there. For a start it is in a beautiful spot in the heart of the Catskill Mountains. The Resort is tucked away, peaceful and isolated from any urban sound. The patio is the perfect place to rest your feet for a few moments and gaze out over the lake, golf course and mountains. No need to rush around looking for something to eat, you have your place in the Dining Room for the weekend and you dine in style. The food is excellent and plentiful starting with a Welcome Party on the Friday afternoon with tables creaking under the weight of a mouth watering assortment of hors d'oeuvres including bowls of huge plump shrimp. To wash it all down there is an open bar for the party. (Do beware though, if you are teaching straight after the party (like I was) you should be prepared for much merriment, it is surprising what a fair number of margaritas can do to dancers!!!))
From the moment you walk in the door you are looked after! Tim and Rosie are fantastic hosts and they put all their energy into ensuring their guests are well looked after, nothing is too much trouble for them. They make you feel part of the family from the word "go"!
For those who like their dancing early, the event starts with a ‘bonus’ night on the Thursday evening. It includes a buffet in the Dining Room followed by bonus dance lessons this year given by Rosie, Lynne Martino, Johanna Barnes, Rona Kaye, Patti Bullock,. Ruben Luna, and I also taught. Those who would rather just dance had that option in the Nightclub. Then there were four extra lessons on the Friday morning before the weekend guests started pouring in.
The highlight of the Friday afternoon is the ‘Welcome Party’ but if all that good food was too much for you, open dance was offered. From 4 p.m. on there were 4 line dance classes (One class for beginners) and one couples class each hour. All dances are taught twice so if you have trouble making decisions you don’t have to worry as you’ll get a second chance at a dance!!
I really enjoy the fact that there are no classes during the meal breaks which are great times to socialize with your friends and make new ones. That said there is large dance floor in the Dining Room and music is played the whole time so you can jump up and down between courses and dance to your heart's content! Breakfast is buffet but usually your other meals are from a menu with plenty of choice. This year the service on the Friday evening was particularly slow due to a staffing problem. So Tim jumped into the fray and the next day all meals were buffet but with extra perks thrown in like shrimp, prime rib and so on. It worked out very well. I think the meal breaks with the gathering in the Dining Room is one of the reasons for the exceptionally friendly feel of this event. You get an opportunity to really get to know one another, share a lot of laughs, and feel like you’re part of the whole.
There is a dedicated teaching staff that appeared to have as much fun as the guests. From the local area first.... Despite her role as co-director and the multitude of responsibilities that go with that,, Rosie never seemed stressed and found time to teach a beginners class and a late-night bonus teach of an advanced dance plus a Zumba class each morning, in addition to keeping us all organized. Lynne Martino is so funny I think she should be on the stage, that said she was, on the Saturday night! More about that later. Lynne is also an excellent instructor and talented choreographer, she has won a number of competitions with her dances. Rona Kaye is a popular instructor and all her classes were full even, to her surprise, the class that featured two fairly easy dances to country music. People know that Rona chooses good dances to teach and trust her judgment. Rona also choreographs and 'Happy' was one of the big floor fillers at the weekend. Johanna Barnes is a well known choreographer who has a solid following of dancers who enjoy her choreography. She teaches other dances as well, including advanced, and also gave tips and instruction on west coast swing for this event. If you want to learn some technique Johanna's class is a good one to go, she is patient and willing to review steps as many times as necessary! Patti Bullock has one foot in the south and one in the north but I reckon she counts as a local right now! She is such a delightful person and a patient, enthusiastic instructor who focused on beginner dances at this event. Many many thanks to everyone who came to my classes, you are a terrific group and always make me feel so welcome.
Peter Metelnick flew over the pond specifically to teach at this event. Peter is a regular and has a large fan club here and they packed his classes. 'Timber' had to be one of the hits of the weekend although all Peter (and Alison's) dances went over well. Scott Blevins is also a regular and is seen around chatting and catching up on the news with the dancers. He also had full classes especially for Cha Cha Burn this weekend, many of the dancers wanted to learn this one including me! Michael Diven wore two hats, that of instructor and also of DJ and he threw his full energy and infectious enthusiasm into both roles. Michael is like the energy bunny, he just never seems to wind down. I should add here that Michael is also a choreographer with a number of dances to his name. Ruben Luna, Instructor/ Choreographer from California was the new kid on the block and soon made his presence felt!! Ruben is always out to enjoy himself and hopes that those dancers around him will have a good time as well!! And indeed I think they did!! If you didn't have a good time learning 'Oops Inside Your Head', then your funny bone needs re-jigging!
There was, of course, the option to learn some partner dancing and I heard from some line dancers who really enjoyed the opportunity to try something new. The couples instructors are really fun to be around, they were Mike Quigley and Donna Shea, Mal and Linda Zerden. and Mike and Dodie Serben. Some of the partner instructors wore two hats, and Mike Serben and Donna did excellent jobs manning the controls of the DJ booth. Including Bronco in the Nightclub, all the DJs did an terrific job, no-one could complain that they didn’t have an opportunity to dance.... there were three dance floors going in the evening and when those rooms closed everyone headed off to the Bar with Dave Kim in charge for karaoke and more dancing!
Another different aspect to this event is the opportunity to dance to a live band, in this case the Tim Gillis Band. It reminded me of when we would all desperately try to think of a dance that we could do to a particular song. That’s what we did both Friday and Saturday night ... there would be always be someone who had a good memory who would work it out and start a dance and everyone else would fall into line! I did dances I haven’t done forever and it was great fun.
But let me also add other bonuses– late night swim parties, ice cream sundaes and bagels; you wouldn’t starve at this event, it's a good job you were dancin' it all off! Add the show, of course! This year it was Rosie making lemonade! At the rehearsal at beginning of the weekend the instructors reckoned they might end up with simply sour lemons!! However, Rosie, as always, had a vision in mind that came up trumps on the Saturday night! Suffice to say, there were backward Muppets, Lucy and co in hula skirts, Elvis was in the house, the couples dancers added some class, a 'Grease' finale and Tim's solo which brought tears to everyone's eyes and a standing ovation. Short, sweet and full of laughter!
Recapping, this was an extremely successful event. Rosie and Tim had to cope with a Resort that has become so popular that they were designated less dance space than they would have liked. However, two of the rooms they used had been completely refurbished and were a pleasure to dance in. I thought the space worked out perfectly. In fact I don't think many of the dancers noticed any difference, they still had plenty of dance options. The only downside is that you must make sure to book early for the November Weekend as rooms are limited. This is such an fun event that word does spread. I know the first-timers who travelled down this weekend from Ontario had the most wonderful time. Once you are a part of the Tim Gillis family you want to remain at its heart, so come join the gang, you won’t regret it.
PS If you have a non-line dancing partner who likes golf, Tim is always on the look-out for golfers!! My husband Michael got in two rounds and was very happy!
PPS I should add here a note about Joyce Fritz Ritz' jewelry, she had some beautiful hand-made designs to sell. Check them out on her website. www.soulyjoyce.com
DANCES TAUGHT (Choreographed by Instructor unless otherwise noted)
Overnight (A) Rob Fowler
Syncopated Rhythm (I) Classic, Rob Fowler
Don't Wait (I)
Cha Cha Burn (A) with Jo Thompson Szymanski
Hey Go (EI)
The Little Things (I) Jo Thompson Szymanski
White Boots (B+)
Abrazame Amor (B) Ira Weisburd
Say Something (B+) Mary Lou Copp
Sambalero (B+) Ira Weisburd (Thursday)
I Hope You Find It (I) Niels Poulson
Hell on Heels (B)
Shotgun Jenny (B+) Kathy Brown
Cricket On A Line (I) Kathy Broiwn
MmmYeah (I) Rachael McEnaney, Roy Hadisubroto, Joey Warren
Say Something (I) Julia Wetzel
Trouble With My Baby (B+) Craig Bennett & Tina Argyle
Put The Gun Down (I) Guyton Mundy
Oops Inside Your Head (EI) with Philip Sobriel, John & Jo Kinser
Love & Party (EI)
Mini Barrel (B) Niels Poulson
Ol McDonald's Chick (B+)
The Older I Get (The Better I Used To Be) (EI) Harlan Curtis
Alabama Boy (I) Francien Sittrop
Story Of My Life (I) Craig Bennett
Mighty Fine (B)
Ain't It Fun (B+)
Swing Your Thing (B) Ria Vos
Timber (I) with Alison Biggs
Hit The Road Jack (EI) with Alison Biggs
Don't Say Goodbye (B+) with Alison Biggs
Wake Up Maggie (I) with Alison Biggs
Hold On to... (B)
Spring Lake Tango (B)
The Longest Time (B) Dee Musk (Thursday)
Man In A Mirror (A) Rachael McEnaney
& Simon Ward (Friday midnight bonus lesson)
Open Arms (I) with Kate, Jose and Fred
Rock N Roll Angel (I) Kate Sala
Gin & Tonic (B) Kate Sala & Robbie McGowan Hickie