Dancin' For Miracles, Sept. 09
For most people, September is the month that spells the end of summer. It's back to school for the kids, work expectations that seem to rocket upwards and everyday life that gears into “full speed ahead”! But for Ontario line dancers, September is a month to look forward to as it includes the weekend that follows Labour Day! That's the date for 'Dancin' For Miracles', a time to catch up with dancin' friends from all over the Province, to laugh, to dance, and to raise money for cancer research. A wonderful mix; thanks to the indefatigable Valarie Keller and her dedicated volunteers.
We tend to luck into lovely weather for this weekend and many of the dancers drive up early so they can walk the long sandy beach and swim in the warm shallow waters of Georgian Bay. We stay at cottages, motels, condos and hotels dotted along the shore. Then from Friday evening to Sunday afternoon, we dance, dance some more and have fun!
There is always a theme, and months before we start spending hours in Value Village and the Goodwill preparing for it! This year it was “black and white”. There was quite an ensemble of costumes on the Friday evening. We had cocktail waitresses, cows, Dalmatians, penguins, Nuns, even a few Charlie Chaplins (I always thought there was only one, shows you how ignorant I am!). The instructors were put through their paces; Valarie invariably has some form of torture for them! Then we danced. Lynn Warden is one of the best DJs around. She keeps the floor full but at the same time allows for opportunities for small groups to dance their favourites. She is completely fair and even handed. Everyone feels comfortable approaching her, yet at the same time you feel she is completely in control of that dance floor! When we get a bit muddled up, off goes the music as Lynn announces we have had our time for a practice and back on it goes so we can demonstrate we really do know ALL the steps!
Saturday morning we don't have to worry about breakfast, there is coffee, bananas and snack bars to give us energy. A warm-up, very serious (!) class helped us to stretch our limbs at 9 and then Ontario favourite Dan Morrison took to the stage with a smooth NC2 dance that is already making the rounds ‘The Climb’. Croc (you can't miss him … the one with the legs that seem to go all over the place!) and the ever patient Hope treated us to a fun easy dance, ‘You Belong With Me’ by Aussie Jan Wyllie followed by a classic that everyone was delighted to welcome back to the dance floor, ‘Do Wop Be Doo Be Doo’ by Gaye Teather.
New to the DfM stage, Carolyn Beer did a good job of teaching a new one from UK's Robbie McGowan Hickie, 'Bad Boy' and then a lovely waltz she wrote herself, As I Walk Away" to "Queen of my Heart" by Westlife. The talented Cathy Montgomery was on next with Double Trouble's latest, already successful, ‘Moonlight Madness’ to Canadian country artist Johnny Reid's ‘A Moon To Remember’. This was very well received. Then the other half of 'Double Trouble' Kathy K. (who always gets us laughin’) brought back an oldie but goody 'New Jack Swing' written by Dan's brother Steve with Deb Crew.
While we were busy having fun the Newmarket volunteers prepared our $3 lunch. No better deal in town – choice of sandwich, cheese & crackers, veggies and dip, olives, pickles and grapes. Beats McDonalds every time! As we were dining Valarie presented a new game – 'The Price is Right'. For $5 for ten tickets we had the opportunity of winning a price worth over $1000. Nine names were drawn and divided into three groups. Out came an item and the person who guessed closest to its value went through to the grand final. Glenn Mack, (who obviously must be a wonderful shopper!), was the winner of the final and went home with a weekend for two in Niagara Falls (much to wife Honey's delight), passes to all the area's attractions and a framed print of the Falls.
Leanne Holmes was on first after lunch and in her usual friendly manner treated us to a couple of dances to excellent country tracks, 'Live and Learn' and 'UBD Stomp'. Up next came the popular Fred Buckley with a hot new dance from the UK, 'Sin City Swing' written by Gary Lafferty. Lorraine Hapeman was new to the event. We were lucky to have her as she has her own event the very next weekend in Buffalo. Lorraine taught us a couple of golden oldies that are popular in her neck of the woods that were fun to dance, 'Rooster Strut' and 'Soakin' Wet'. Michele Carver is an excellent instructor and always chooses good dances; this year was no exception with a new country cha from Peter & Alison, ‘Speak With Your Heart', and another winning beginner dance from Dee Musk 'Broken Stones' (don't forget Dee will be at our Spring Workshop next April). Deanna Allen, together with Cathy Montgomery, has been bringing the Loretto Inn back into our local line dancing spotlight with popular monthly dances and a workshop. She is a very good instructor and we enjoyed ‘Love Sex Magic’ by Lawrence Allen and a good beginner ‘Your Spotlight’ by Canadian choreographer, Debbie Small.
While we were havin' fun in the line dance room, the couples were being kept on their toes by Pat and Joe Pallas, Joe and Linda Arnold, Mike Bishop and Deb Levesque, and Croc and Hope. I heard they all had a great time.
We then had a break from 4-8 which gave us plenty of time to relax with our feet up, or get them walking along the beach enjoying the sunshine. We were warned that we had to be back in plenty of time otherwise we would be locked up…. Sorry, I mean “locked out”! So we were a bit apprehensive when we headed back to the hall. No need to be as we discovered we were guests at a wedding. Luckily the theme for Saturday night was ‘Black Tie’ so we sure looked smart. However, it was rather disconcerting to realize that the wedding party did not seem to realize the etiquette of a black tie event. What with the Reverend Stu P. Dasso, the bride Ms. Jolene Haywee and groom, Mr. Bubba Humpalot, and their assorted relatives whose appearance was alarming to say the least, it was, to put it politely, a rather unusual wedding. For those of us who like things to be done “proper like”, we weren’t quite sure the wedding format and ceremony were entirely appropriate, but nevertheless we shed a few tears (of laughter that is!).
Later in the evening we were thrilled to again be entertained by the Canadian Country Cruisers. The Cruisers have been together since 1996 winning many competitions; as recently as 2007 they won a UCWDC Title. They have opened for Keith Urban and Tim McGraw so you can see why we were excited. We were fortunate to get the opportunity to see a new routine they will be dancing in their next Theatre Production in Delhi in November this year. It’s called ‘Once Upon A Cruisers Tale’. The colourful bollywood costumes set the scene and delighted the eye and as always their routine was skillful and creative. Lena told me that the team is a very close-knit family who love to spend time together. She added that “10 of us all have motorcycles, so when our two feet are not dancing, our two wheels are on the road. We support, respect, and love to spend time together; this is how this team has survived this long. And I hope for a long time to come.” We too hope they will be together and dancing for us for many years hence.
And, of course, Saturday evening is another opportunity for us to hit the dance floor ourselves. In addition, we had fun picking out the impressive prizes we wanted to win in Mrs. K’s Penny Auction. No one goes home empty handed from this event; besides the penny auction, you can buy ten envelopes for ten dollars and end up with ten prizes (as someone on our table did) and there are terrific raffle prizes to be won. The only thing is that your passengers have to run behind the car as the trunk, back seat and passenger seats are all full of prizes!!
Sunday brought quick reviews by the instructors and it’s amazing how much we remembered. Another $3 lunch and then a few hours of just ‘dancin’’ before everyone headed home tired but happy.
However, Valarie and her volunteers still had to pack everything up and take it all the way back to her home in Niagara Falls. The work that goes into this event is phenomenal and it takes a whole year of preparation. Valarie told us that Gloria and Hank Kirchner from Newmarket, rent a huge truck (at their own expensive), drive it to Valarie’s house on the Thursday, where everyone loads it up. They then drive it to Wasaga where the volunteers work for hours setting up the hall. The Newmarket ladies and their instructors always organize the lunches; there are volunteers behind the bar, at the front entrance, Rose and Ray (aka Curella De Vil), (Valarie’s sister and brother-in-law), are always busy, Mrs. Betty Keller and Mary do the mammoth job of the Penny Auction, Dolores created the wonderful decorations (each silhouette on the stage was of a different volunteer and brilliant table centerpieces Saturday evening) and, as always, there are the instructors who are out to have fun and help make the event successful. And, of course, our extremely capable leader, Valarie, seems to have endless energy and commitment. Thank you so much to each and every one. And, successful it was … Valarie has announced already that $8000 was raised to go to Cancer Research.
What more could you want … dancin’ fun and at the same time helping to raise money for such a worthwhile cause. Next year is going to be a biggie, it will be the 10th anniversary and Valarie has great plans. So don’t forget to mark September 10-12 as the ‘Miracle’ weekend. See you there!
Click on the thumbnails below to see the photos of the fun we had.