"The dancers were so nice to come out and support us last year for our first-time event", Fred Buckley and I exchanged comments, "but did they enjoy themselves enough to want to come again?" And so we agonized as the date drew closer for LTGTR ... #2!! Well, the numbers exceeded our wildest expectations with over 130 dancers turning out to share the Good Times on October 23.
But let me take you back a little to the Friday evening to be exact when the set-up crew went to work. Danny and Ray lugged chairs up and down a flight of stairs, moved heavy tables from one room to another as well as heavy stereo equipment quite a distance from a van, then down steep stairs to the halls. Ernie clambered up and down a step ladder hanging up the lights while Penny offered encouragement. Deb, Lorraine, Kathy, Joan, Rita, Nicky and Denise put up decorations throughout the halls. And, of course, Eddie had her pulse on everything and in her calm capable way kept Fred and I grounded as we raced around. As Fred, Eddie and I said, we couldn't have done this event without our friends and I want to thank them. Plus, of course, the friends who donated gifts for the raffle and door prizes and helped out on the day in so many ways ... helping at the door, making coffee, cutting the cake and the final clearing up. We love our dancing but perhaps the greatest gain we have made from this wonderful activity is the friendships we have made.
And the icing on the cake was the terrific crowd of dancers who obviously came to have some fun! As well as our local dancing gang, we had dancers from as far away as Sudbury, Michigan, Forest, Niagara Falls, Peterborough, Whitby, Brampton, Pickering, Courtice, Burlington, Ajax, Brooklin, Oshawa, Oakville, Newmarket, Cavan, Millbrook, Caledon, Shelburne and Mississauga and we so appreciated them coming such distances. Some of the dancers were already waiting in line at 11:15 a.m. with smiling faces while we were sorting out the last minute things that always need to be organized. By 12 noon the crowd had grown and we were ready to start with Wayne Kralik. Although he has been teaching in the east end of Toronto for many years, Wayne was a new face to many of the dancers. Fred and I had seen Wayne teach and thought he was terrific and you could soon see that the dancers thought so as well. First he taught his own dance 'Old Time Rock 'N Roll' which everyone thoroughly enjoyed and then he took us on a horse and buggy ride! You see .... you should have been there! You definitely missed out if you don't know what this means!!! Wayne is a multi talented man and teaches clogging as well as line dancing so we now know some simple clogging steps.
Next up was Marlene Maskell, the guiding light behind the Coyote Cave in Peterborough. The 'Cave' is a terrific place to dance at and is well worth the trip to dance there. Marlene has been teaching for a long time and has a following of devoted dancers. It's no wonder as she's such a nice individual and lots of fun to learn from. In her competent way, she taught us the nice and easy 'Life is a Gamble' and followed up with the trickier 'Honkytonkville'.
We then had a open dance break and those who wanted to try out some beginner two-step popped over to the Second Hall to learn from Jim and Linda Booth, back by popular demand. Although LTGTR is primarily a Line Dance Workshop, we wanted to have some open dancing as well as learning and it seemed a good idea during that period to give people the opportunity to find out a little about couples dancing. Jim and Linda are very capable, experienced dancers yet patient and encouraging to the "newbies". When I popped in, it seemed to me that the trickiest part for the dancers was who would be the leader! I think they decided that the bossiest person should take that role!!! Later in the afternoon Jim and Linda had the dancers doing some East Coast Swing moves most proficiently.
I was next up to do some teaching starting first with Leah De Plancke's fun beginner dance 'Let It Roll, Let It Ride' then premiering my latest dance 'Good To Me' to Keith Urban's terrific song 'God's Been Good To Me'. It was a little tricker but the dancers caught on and even the more beginner dancers wished each other luck and hung in there!! What a game group they were even watching out for the redback spider (you see ... you had to be there!).
Fred joined me then to teach the dance we had co-written for the event which we called 'Good Times'. After a little arm wrestling over the microphone(!) we then had to decide which song we would use!! We had two tracks, one which Fred preferred, The Corrs 'Summer Sunshine' and the other which was my favourite (although I do enjoy the Corrs too, I must add!) which was another Keith Urban song 'Live to Love Another Day'. So we ended up doing both and left it to the dancers to make their own choice!
We had another open dance break then Fred took over the floor to teach 'One Night Will Do' and 'Baby Love' .You cannot learn from Fred and not be caught up with his enthusiasm for dancing. Besides being such an excellent instructor, clear in calling the steps and observant of the floor, he exudes warmth and encouragement. I also reckon he is one of the best DJs around. Fred's approach is to set out a dance sheet with dances that will bring most of the dancers to the floor but for every three of these dances he inserts two lesser known, or trickier dances, and/or requests. This way all the dancers present will have an opportunity to get on the floor and no one sits down for very long. It worked perfectly at this event and he ended up by playing nearly all of the requests during the evening dance. It has been a privilege for me to work with Fred on LTGTR.
And the last slice of afternoon fun was a 'Blast from Past' which Tammy Wyatt had kindly agreed to teach. Tammy is the resident instructor at the Wild Rose Saloon and also teaches in Mississauga and the Bronte Legion in Oakville. She is a fantastic instructor and lots of fun to be around. I think the dancers all agreed as we bopped down memory lane with 'Honky Tonk Stomp'.
But besides dancing we also did a little eating with an excellent buffet dinner which followed the workshop. We then started the evening dance with the traditional 'Good Times Roll Around' circle dance with Rod Stewart singing in the kitchen! Then the dancers took over the floor completely with short breaks for the raffle, 50/50 and door prizes. We had to be out of the hall at 11:30 so dancers kept on prancin' as the decorations and lights were being taken down around them and until the caretaker finally put his foot down!!
We had an experiment this year in an attempt to ensure that all the dancers who wanted to would be able to attend the event. In the Second Hall we set up speakers connected to the main system so that the same music was played in both halls and the instructors could also be heard in both places. A number of dancers took the opportunity to dance in the less crowded space. There were tables they could sit together at and it was also cooler which they liked. Hopefully this option will enable us to keep the registration at this level. It was just so great to see so many dancers having fun together. The dancers make an event and the crowd that came to this one were the best. Thanks to you all.
So, as you might have gathered ... Fred, Eddie and I are already planning the next one with a smile on our faces and fond memories of LTGTR 04! Hopefully see you there!!!
NOTE: Thanks to generous dancers the raffle raised $215 which has been sent to Oxfam to help hurricane victims in Haiti. The 50/50 raised $284 so a lucky dancer walked away with $142 and Fred is using the other $142 to buy a television for one of his elderly seniors who lives alone and cannot afford one.
I read a poem at the event and dancers have asked to see it. So it follows:
Thanks to you all for coming and having fun.
To Fred and I, you are all number one.
To 'Let the Good Times Roll' needs a special dancer
One with a smile and a joke, that kind of prancer.
It also needs some talented good-time teachers
Who kick up their heels, not just teach to us.
We're lucky to have the gang who came today
Perfect types to have fun with and to play.
Wayne is a new face to many of you here
But his students have told us loud and clear.
He gets them cloggin' and steppin' in line
He's just the best there is and that's no lie!
We're lucky Marlene came from the Coyote Cave
If you've never been there you've missed a rave.
Marlene runs a great club that is really a treat
There are lots of laughs & fun which is really neat.
A good time was sure had with Jim & Linda last year.
Do bring them back, the message was clear.
They're patient and fun as you learn to 2-step,
Today you did some swinging or something like that!