"Go to sleep!" muttered my husband, Michael, at 2:00 a.m. as I listed out loud all the things that I needed for the workshop later that day! It had finally come around, the workshop I was doing with Fred Buckley, 'Let The Good Times Roll...'. For over a year we had talked about organizing a low key, for-fun workshop to encourage dancers who had never been to a workshop before to try one out. At the same time, we wanted to make sure our more advanced dancers would enjoy themselves and also wanted to include couples dancing. Finally we decided that we had talked enough and it was time to take the plunge and early Spring we booked the two halls at the Victoria Park United Church in the east end of Toronto for Saturday, October 25. The date was obviously meant to be as it was literally the only Saturday in the Fall that our schedules and the Church matched with an open spot!!
And now after months of planning and agonizing,(with Eddie Buckley, our calming and practical influence in the background - thanks so much Eddie) the day had come about!! We had decided to go for a half day workshop, starting at 12 followed by a dinner and dance. However, our day started much earlier as we set up the halls with decorations and lights, registration desk, music equipment and so forth. The banner my husband so carefully made for us took pride of place on the wall. At this point I must add how much I appreciated my dancing friends and I know Fred and Eddie would say the same. They all chipped in to help without hesitation and with good humour and the halls were a hive of activity.
The excitement mounted as mid-day drew near and around 11:30 the dancers started turning up at the door. Soon the room was abuzz with chatter and laughter. We had a full house. Originally Fred and I had hoped for around 50 local dancers but we ended up with over 100 attending. Many came from Toronto but others came from places as far away as Peterborough, Caledon, Welland, Milton, Mississauga, Stouffville, Ajax, Concord, Oakville, and Pickering. We were very grateful that these dancers were willing to take a chance with our first attempt at a Workshop. But dancers like to get going and we soon started with Sue Frach teaching her own dance 'Swinging Guitar'. Sue teaches a beginners class in the east end of Toronto and we were delighted that a group of them had decided they would try out this event. What a game lot they were and they were on the dance floor most of the afternoon and evening attempting even the more difficult dances. It was the first time Sue had taught at a workshop and nervous as she was, she did an excellent job.
Next up was Rob McKean from Oshawa. We were fortunate that Rob agreed to teach as he was in the last minute throes of putting together the finishing touches for his own excellent and very popular "Blazing Boots Annual Workshop/Dinner/Dance" being held on November 1. A well experienced and competent instructor, Rob taught his latest dance 'It's All Your Fault", to "Because of You" by the Mavericks from their latest CD.
At this stage we had a break for open dancing in the Main Hall while Bill and Jill Hay taught pattern dancing in the Couples Hall. This was a deliberate decision in order to encourage any interested line dancers who had never tried pattern dancing to give it a go knowing they wouldn't be missing any teaching in the other hall and it seemed to work. Bill and Jill were pleased with the response and did a fine job with their instruction. Hopefully more dancers will be joining their classes to learn more about this fun form of dance.
Then it was Fred's turn to take to the floor. As always, you cannot help but enjoy yourself with Fred as your instructor. He so obviously loves what he does and this is communicated to us dancers. Firstly, with patience and clarity, he taught two beginner dances, 'Some Girls' by Steve Mason and 'My Way Merengue' by Kathy Hunyadi and Max Perry and then finished off with a new intermediate dance that he had just discovered called 'Real Good Man' by Helen Born and Nita Lindley.
Time for another 30 minutes of open line dance while Jim and Linda Booth took over the Couples Hall to teach beginners' two step. Again, a number of dancers took advantage of this opportunity to have a go and many of them later on told me how much they had enjoyed themselves. Jim and Linda hadn't taught two step before but you would never have known it, they did an excellent job.
It was then my turn to teach and as always the dancers were patient with me and whenever I turned I saw smiling faces which always does an instructor's heart good!! I taught my own dances, 'Wang Chung' and 'Fiddlesticks' and also 'Country La Bamba' choreographed by Leah DePlanke from Orillia and 'D.H.S.S.' by Gaye Teather.
The last hour was spent with review in both Halls intermingled with open dancing. The dancers were then shooed out to rest and change while the Main Hall was made ready for the dinner. At 5:30 everyone came back and at this point Fred and I were absolutely thrilled to see Peggy Bryson make her way down the stairs to join us for dinner. You may remember that Peggy turned 100 years young this summer and what a wonderful lady she is. We were truly honoured to have her with us.
Dinner was buffet style and went smoothly. Everyone seemed to have plenty to eat and were soon back in dancing mode again! I started the evening off by teaching a mixer circle dance that everyone could enjoy (Good Times Roll Around) and there was plenty of laughter although I was not quite sure what the hands were doing (you had to be there!). Fred was our DJ for the evening and as always did a superb job of mixing dances so that everyone had an opportunity to take to the floor. I wish I knew where Fred got his energy from .... he raced back and forth from behind his DJ equipment onto the dance floor for virtually every dance looking as fresh and enthusiastic as he did at the beginning of the day!
However, all too soon it was time to say goodnight. And again here, I must say how grateful Fred, Eddie and I were to all those dancers who stayed behind carrying, pulling, pushing and putting away! Many of them had also helped out during the day doing the registration, making coffee, getting chairs and whatever else needed doing. What a great bunch they are and very much appreciated. We were also fortunate to have Fred and Eddie's friendly teenage son, Fred Jnr., looking after the drinks all day and helping out in any way he could.
And a very, very big thanks to everyone who came. It's the dancers who make an event and Fred, Eddie and I had a very special time because of you all. We do hope you enjoyed yourself as much as we did!