“I wish I could dance in the UK with you,” said my friend Cynthia, “It would be so exciting to meet the choreographers of all these dances I love”. Cynthia is now living in Russia and consequently I haven’t had had much of a chance to dance with her, so I decided this would be the year to make her wish come true! Finding out that Big Dave Baycroft was running an event in Bournemouth where one of my sisters lives I got in touch. “Why don’t you come along and instruct”, he said “It would be great to see you.” Well, his invitation was not to be ignored and so the plans were made!
Bournemouth is one of my favourite English seaside towns – it’s a real jewel on the South Coast. With beautiful sandy beaches that stretch for miles, flanked by cliffs with magnificent views over the English Channel and along the coast, it attracts flocks of holiday makers. Bournemouth town centre has great shopping from large chain stores like Marks & Spencers down to trendy little boutiques. Lots of clubs and restaurants keep the town alive and bustling into the early hours of the morning. At the same time, if you want some day trips, the enchantment of the New Forest is just a short drive away to the east or you can head up to Salisbury to check out its famous Cathedral or west to Boscombe with its charming thatched cottages. Everywhere you travel around Bournemouth there are distinctive and delightful very English sights to see.
I picked up Cynthia the day before the event so she could enjoy the delights of Bournemouth. But first of all we checked into the Carrington House Hotel. From the front it didn’t look large enough to accommodate a dance event and even the lobby, although smart, was not very spacious. Right next to the lobby was the restaurant where breakfast was to be served and further along was a cosy bar which served sandwiches and light snacks as well as drinks. The Hotel also had a good size swimming pool, a children’s play room and outside play area, and also a games room. Our room was modern, comfortable and very quiet. After unpacking we headed off to look for the ballroom. Making our way through the hotel to the back, to our surprise we passed two large ballrooms. Then, as directed, we headed down a flight of stairs to the basement and stopped with our mouths open!! In front of us was an enormous ballroom with extremely high ceilings. At one end was a bar and further over was a large dance floor with a stage. Now we couldn’t wait for the event to begin!!
After a day of enjoying the sights of Bournemouth, we were ready to dance. Big Dave and Pauline had spent hours decorating the ballroom and getting ready for their guests. The theme for the Friday night was ‘Sports’ and Dave had a screen set up so that people would be able to dance and watch the World Cup football at the same time! I took the opportunity before the dancers came to find out a little about our hosts. Big Dave told me that last year he had the opportunity to take a voluntary redundancy. Dave said he was ready for a change but did not want to take on another 9-5 accounting job so he decided to concentrate on line dancing both teaching classes and running events across the country and has so far been very successful. Although his inclination is to the funky, more advanced dances, his collection of music and knowledge of dances runs the full gamut from classics to country and he is currently teaching classes of all levels and tastes in music. I first met Dave at the Tampa Line Dance Classic last November where he was one of the DJs and I was very impressed with his competence. He is looking forward to returning to Tampa again this coming Fall together with Shaz Walton and Neville Fitzgerald as the 'Brit Pack'. Dave and Pauline also have a holiday home in Tucson, Arizona, which is an area they both love and they would like to spend more time over there. Meanwhile, Pauline is the back-up crew! She has her favourite dances and enjoys working and participating at Dave’s classes and events. But, in addition, she is passionate about her job at a children’s nursery school. Her face lit up when she talked about her interaction with the children. Pauline is a dedicated, hard working individual whose work behind the scenes helped make the event run smoothly.
The next people on the scene were my fellow instructors, Teresa Lawrence & Vera Fisher, and Dee Musk. I met T&V a number of years ago through my dance ‘Jungle Rhythm’ and subsequently have always tried to pop by one of their classes whenever I am in the UK. They are such supportive and encouraging instructors as well as tremendously talented world renowned choreographers and I have enormous respect for them. Plus they are so much fun to be around! It was a pleasure to be able to spend a little time with Dee whom I met only briefly in Tampa last November. The mother of two young children, six and thirteen, Dee told me how much she loves teaching line dancing and it shows in her ability to communicate to the dancers in a precise yet fun loving manner. As well as teaching at events all over the country, Dee has her own regular classes. Of course, she is also a well known choreographer with her dances spreading beyond the UK borders.
So the stage was set and soon the dance floor was full of dancers in their red and white regalia. There was a short break when T&V, Dee and I taught a fun dance ‘Long Gone!’ which we had written together specifically for the event. Then it was back to the dancing until 1 a.m. The next morning dancers headed down for an excellent full English buffet breakfast which was part of the package and the workshop started at 10 a.m. Over the weekend T&V taught four dances - a lovely waltz ‘If You Want to’, fun beginner country dance ‘Hillbilly’, lively Latin track for ‘Gloria’ and ‘Lock All The Doors’ (by Neville Fitzgerald). As always T&V have interesting, unusual moves in their dances and their teaching patter evokes lots of laughter. Dee took to the floor to teach her beautiful, flowing ‘I Surrender’, the lively ‘Smiley Faces’, fast paced ‘Ai No Corrida’ and ‘No Promises’ (by Shaz Walton). I had fun teaching ‘Don’t Let Go’ and ‘Castaway’ to ‘Rockstar’ by Chipz. All the dances were reviewed later in the day on Saturday and also again on the Sunday with breaks in between for lots of open dancing. I should add here that Dave also taught – ‘Solo Humano’ (Debbie Ellis) and ‘Bad Boy Tango’ (Kate Sala). This was in addition to keeping the music going from early Friday morning to late Sunday and also leading some of the dances in the evening, all with good humour. His stamina was remarkable.
After a tasty sit down dinner in the Hotel Restaurant (also included in the package) it was time for the evening dance with its ‘Music’ theme. There were lots of chuckles as the Village People paraded around the floor, along with the cast of Chicago and some lively Can Can girls! The groups had handed in their ‘All Time’ Top 10 and the floor was packed as we danced down memory lane. Calico then took to the stage – an attractive trio of two young women and one young man, all whom line danced at some point during the evening. They were absolutely terrific – I just loved them. They had fantastic voices and played many line dance favourites both new and from the past. There was something really special about dancing to a talented live group which specializes in line dance music.
The Sunday was more of the same and Dave kept the music going until late but all too soon it was time for everyone to say their goodbyes and hit the road. Some of the dancers had travelled long distances for the chance to dance but nothing stops a committed dancer!!! Many thanks to Dave and Pauline for an excellent workshop which particularly delighted the funky dancers. There was a variety of dances taught, lots of open dancing, quizzes, raffles and other fun things to do taking place in a first rate hotel. Quite a combination. Check out Big Dave’s website for all the other events he is running, there is something for everyone. Now to rest my aching feet!!