“You and I came first”, Shirley reminded me, “We had such a great time that we persuaded the others to come and now here we are all together in our 5th year, it seems hard to believe”. But we weren’t the only ones who had been going for quite a while as was demonstrated when Valarie called the role call of the full hall to see who had attended for the longest time. So what kind of event could keep you coming year after year? “Obviously you’ve got to have some pretty big name instructors”, you might say --- WRONG! “Well it must be in one of those smart hotels” --WRONG! “It has to be in a very convenient location for driving or flying in”. – WRONG AGAIN!
So what does ‘Dancin’ For Miracles’, held in Wasaga Beach, Ontario have to make it such a successful event? First of all it has Valerie Keller at its helm supported by a dedicated army of family, dancers and friends who work incredibly hard all year round organizing the event. Then it has a fund raising focus and commitment that touches everyone. Add to that a tradition of fun, fun and more fun plus an atmosphere of friendship and welcome that brings all who attend under its wing. Then, of course, it has dancin’ and instruction by committed Ontario instructors who bring life and laughter to our favourite passion.
This past weekend was no exception. The Friday evening was the dance and more dance ‘All Request’ evening with our favourite DJ, Lynn Warden manning the sound system. Lynn, as always, (and I don’t know how she does it) ensured that everyone had an opportunity to hit the dance floor as she mixed and mingled, all levels, new and old, country and non country music. What a responsive and kind individual Lynn is with a quick wit for sure. We had a few breaks to rest our feet, one was when a representative of the local Cancer Society told us that with Val in charge the volunteers and dancers had raised nearly $70,000 for cancer research over the years, what an amazing achievement. Then time for the annual, “let’s have some merriment with the instructors activity”, this time musical chairs with a scavenger hunt twist. Suffice to say Fred won with a bra in hand!!! Don’t ask!!
We also took the opportunity to get our tickets from Mrs. Betty Keller and Mary Wilson who gather all the wonderful gifts for the penny auction which this year raised $1700. Part of the fun is deciding which jar to put your tickets into …. “I love the stained glass lamp, but on the other hand that bathroom basket looks gorgeous”. Decisions, decisions! Our thanks to Mrs. K and Mary for their labour of love which gives us so much pleasure.
Saturday brought dancers bright and early and as always there was coffee on hand, fruit and cookies. Instruction this year was started off by much loved Croc ‘Robert Young’, ably supported by Hope. ‘You Look Good In My Shirt’ looked good on the dancers. Having a bad hair day but still looking refined in red, Dan Morrison, dancer extraordinaire took us ‘Walking Back to Happiness’ for sure! Fred Buckley, a very popular crowd pleaser - especially in that outfit! -- (I should add that the instructors were a motley crew, do check out the photos!) treated the dancers to a ‘Love Trick’ while lively Jennie Johns (red cheeks and all!) reckoned ‘Yes, Please’ would answer all questions. Newcomer, George Leitch, showing no nerves with his Pirate hat on, got us going with some ‘Good Time Jackson’.
Aptly named Double Trouble (aka Cathy Montgomery and Kathy K.) needed no introduction despite their appearance (!). Their hilarious instruction of ‘Smokin Funny Things’ had a distinctly naval aspect to it. Gloria Kirchner was a flamboyant Pirate Captain to say the least and obviously all that rollickin’ beer drinkin’ has brought ‘Vague Memories’ in its wake! Valarie took time out of her door duties to assure us that the dance she was going to teach was ‘Not a Limbo’. We believed her as after all we believe everything she says!!! I ‘Centred’ the dancers for their route to the sound of the ‘Jungle Rhythm’!!! To finish it all off, Halloween came early in Wasaga and some local witches came ‘Flying High’ (obviously on some very rich brew) to pay us a visit!! I should add that the couples were also having a good time with instructors Dave & Linda Corke, Mike Bishop & Deb Levesque, Pat & Joe Pallas and Robert & Hope Young. All in all a full day of excellent instruction, the best value lunch in all of Wasaga prepared by our favourite hard working volunteers and their instructors from Newmarket and, of course, loads and loads of laugher endomorphins.
It was time to head back to our accommodation dotted all over Wasaga, to cottages, motels, hotels, and condos, surrounded by woods, overlooking the Bay or by the river. Wasaga sure is a pretty spot. Some had a walk on the beach, others put their feet up, still others tasted the local culinary delights. However, we were all back at the Hall for our evening of dance and surprises. Welcomed by the Rabbit who was late for a very important date, we entered through the Looking Glass to be greeted by Alice in Wonderland and her side-kick Little Red Riding Hood! As you might gather, the theme was Fairy Tales and Nursery Rhymes, and the costumes were a delight (and sometimes a horror!) to behold. Creative Dolores Pividor and daughter Gloria Kirchner were the decorators and every table had hand-made castles with candles which set the mood most impressively. This night was a set play list with some requests thrown in and the dance floor was soon hoppin’. However, there was anticipation in the air. Earlier in the day Valarie had announced that 26 contestants were needed to enter a special ‘Wasaga’s Next Top Model’ game show. First prize was $500 followed by a ‘Weekend in Nigara Falls Hotel Package for two’ and, in fact, every contestant would receive a prize. It cost only $5 to enter the draw to become a contestant so dancers eagerly lined up to win a chance to participate.
Finally, the Show Host, ‘Mowie Handel’ took to the stage to introduce the models who had traveled from far and wide to take part in this contest. From ‘Princess Hot Pants’ to ‘Dynamic Davina’, these 26 stunning models were a sight to behold. The contestants were invited to the front and the fun began. Each model held up a number which hid a gift and the contestants had to choose one. They went off with all sorts of goodies until the very final number turned out to be the $500 winner; congratulations and thanks to Jackie Mooney who donated $100 of her win to the weekend fund raising efforts.
In addition to this excitement, the raffle was drawn with more amazing prices and envelopes were opened to reveal still more prizes, in fact no one left this event empty handed. It was a good job that our registration package was contained in an attractive canvas dance bag instead of an envelope as it was put to good use with all our pickings. Trust Valarie to think of everything. So, as you can see, we have all sorts of fun and games at Dancin’ For Miracles! But there was still more on the Sunday, with review and open dancing and another fine lunch until all too soon it was time to head home. The theme for next year has been chosen. Dancers submitted their theme suggestions and the winner was ‘Black and White’. So we might look very smart next year in tuxedos and wedding gowns with a few skunks and penguins thrown in and perhaps some piano keys!!! Start hittin’ the Charity Shops now folks!!!
It is the most wonderful thing that our line dancing passion can provide us with such pleasure and at the same time give us the satisfaction of knowing that what we are doing is helping others. It was brought home to us in a very personal way when one of our special instructors told us about her ongoing courageous battle with cancer; her positive attitude and outlook was an inspiration to us all. Another survivor described the importance of family and friendship to recovery and how the line dance community has become an extended family in his life. Both emphasized that our fund raising activities were personal indeed. So I’d like to extend sincere appreciation to everyone involved in ‘Dancin’ For Miracles’ for organizing such a wonderful event that comes straight from the heart. I’m already looking forward to 'Dancin’ For Miracles' 2009.
Centred by Vivienne Scott
Flying High by Double Trouble
Good Time Jackson by Dan Albro
In Your Backyard by Thomas Haynes
Jungle Rhythm by Vivienne Scott
Keep Being Strong by Double Trouble
Love Trick by Rachel McEnaney
Not A Limbo by Rep Ghazali
She Believes by Kate Sala
Shiftwork by Helen Born & Nita Lindley
Smokin Funny Things by Double Trouble
Vague Memories by Dianne Bishop & Gloria Kirchner
Walking Back to Happiness by Alan Haywood
Yes Please by Kim Ray
You Look Good In My Shirt by Roma's Rebels