The kids go back to school and the Ontario Line Dancers check through their wardrobes; it’s an annual rite of passage at the beginning of September. Should their wardrobes not reveal what is needed, then the Line Dancers have a choice, either check out their family and friends’ wardrobes, or head off to prestigious clothing stores like Value Village or the Goodwill. “What on earth does this have to do with line dancing?” you might politely be asking. Well, it’s time for ‘Dancin’ for Miracles’ and you just gotta be kitted out for the themes!!! This year we were getting ready for a Sock Hop on the Friday night and Prom Night on Saturday.
But let me take you back a little for anyone who has never to this event. First of all it is held close to Wasaga Beach, a beautiful soft sand beach that seems to go on forever. Quite a few people go up a little earlier so they can walk the beach and have a swim in the balmy waters of Georgian Bay. There is tons to do in the area, cycling and walking paths, great golf courses, good eating and much more. That said, for the dancers, it is ‘Dancin’ For Miracles’ that is the area’s greatest attraction. It has become a meeting spot; a place to catch up with old friends and meet new, all who share the same love of dance. At the same time, we’re proud that we are able to participate in a fund-raiser that has become extremely successful over the years thanks to Val Keller and her team of dedicated and committed volunteers.
Friday night brought out poodle skirts, neck scarves, rolled up jeans, short white socks, saddle shoes, high school sweaters and Elvis type hairdos!! As always Val was at the door to greet us; there were smiling faces at the registration desk, the indomitable and delightful Mrs. Keller presiding over her penny auction of wonderful gift baskets and Lyn Warden at the helm of the sound system. We had ice cream sodas on the house and our registration package came with a fun CD inside and all kinds of goodies. The instructors were put through their paces by Val, or rather through hula hoops, yoyos, fluffy balls, big balls, and skipping ropes. You really don’t want to know exactly what they had to do, suffice to say the audience was in fits of laughter. Val experimented a little this year with instruction of simple dances taught intermittently throughout the ‘all request’ evening dance. There has been much discussion recently about finding an approach that will ensure that dancers of all levels can participate on the dance floor and kudos to Event Directors who try to find a way to make that happen. Still, it’s a dilemma and I’m sure Val will be checking to find out dancer reaction to this year’s trial balloon.
Saturday was straight into instruction mode and I’ll take you through the Instructors in alphabetical order. Popular instructor Fred Buckley nearly didn’t make it due to a back problem, but once Fred takes to the stage there is nothing that can keep him down. He’s a fun loving, patient and thoughtful instructor whose enthusiasm for what he does communicates itself directly to the dancers. From Newmarket, I’m putting two instructors together here, Dianne Bishop and Debby Wilcox, both who have a loyal following in their dancers. They are part of Val’s volunteer team and had already put in an enormous amount of work behind the scenes along with their fellow instructors from Newmarket, Jill Baker and Gloria Kirchner, so it was doubly impressive that they still had the energy to be involved in the teaching side as well.
Double Trouble (aka Kathy K. and Cathy Montgomery) need no introduction. A regular feature at ‘Dancin’ For Miracles’, there is no knowing what they will do! They are talented choreographers and instructors but, if they needed another career, they would sure do well as comediennes! New kid on the block, Jaci Gecelter, was nervous as all get-up before going on stage but you would never have known it. She gave concise and clear instruction and the dancers picked up her dances very quickly. In her review session she did joke that her friends reminded her that she had to remember to breathe when she taught! …. Next time should be a breeze, Jaci!
Another new face on the stage was Jennie Johns from Windsor. Jennie has been a successful dance competitor in the past and is a pleasure to watch on the dance floor. Her high energy attitude soon got the dancers movin’! Marlene Maskell is the much loved instructor from the Coyote Cave in Peterborough. Marlene sets the tone at the ‘Cave’ and it’s that of a friendly inclusive family. Marlene is a lovely person and very experienced instructor. Known for her ability to choose excellent dances to teach, Zandra McCallum has a devoted following and she’s an extremely capable and proficient instructor. She’s also very patient with dancers following her feet on the dance floor … I should know, I was right beside her trying to learn ‘Lollipop’ each time it came on! Zandra seemed as thrilled as I was when I finally got it! Many thanks Zandra!
A recent knee operation couldn’t keep Anita McNab away and wheel chair instruction is the latest addition to her resume! Anita runs a successful fund raising event in Sudbury and is a very committed instructor and also talented choreographer. Another regular at the event is the popular Dan Morrison. For years I’ve been trying to dance exactly like Dan but I think I would have more chance of winning the lottery! Dan is also a talented choreographer and we have enjoyed many of his dances over the years. This year he taught two new ones to add to the pot which I’m sure will keep many dancers happy. Robert ‘Croc’ Young is a one of a kind and he and Hope kept the floor lively and us smiling as they took us down memory lane. They taught both line and couples. I should add that the partner dancers were also having a great time in the other room all weekend with Dave & Linda Corke, Mike Bishop & Deb Levesque and Pat & Joe Pallas as well as Croc and Hope.
So it was a full day of instruction. We had a break for our toonie lunch; McDonalds has nothing on D4M … for $2 you get a choice of a ham, tuna or egg sandwich with a great choice of veggies and lots of trimmings, along with fruit for desert. Dancers took time out to buy their envelopes in the hope of winning some of the loot in the corner of the hall, tickets to stuff into the jars to win one of the terrific gift baskets put together by Mrs. K and her friends, or a raffle ticket for one of the great prizes, many of which were donated by the dancers in Val’s class.
There was a break from 4-8 to give people time to rest up or go out for a meal at one of the local restaurants. And, of course, they had to spend time preparing for the big Prom Night! Dancers outdid themselves that night as you will see from the photos. One dancer proudly told me that she was wearing a dress she had worn for her Prom and she only needed to let it out a little! The women were gorgeous and my goodness were the men handsome. Bring back those white jackets and bow ties for sure!!! However there were also a few strange variations on the theme that invoked some laughter; they, of course, didn’t include my queenly outfit! Melissa did a wonderful job as event photographer as groups posed by the flower arbor for their place in Prom history!
The entertainment is always enjoyable at Val’s events. Mike Bishop and Deb Levesque created a great skit with all the instructors aglow. Leanne’s Movers and Shakers looked so cute in their poodle skirts (made by one of the dancers); some greasy characters made us wonder whether this boy meets girl thing is all it’s cracked up to be! (OK, you asked – “Why the down-under and US reference for this group?” – Olivia Newton John comes from Australia and John Travolta from the US and they made a special trip to be part of this performance!) The Flintstones came to town as well and obviously have had some line dancing lessons in their neck of the woods! In addition, we were fortunate again this year to delight in a performance by Leah Kovacs and her Delhi Country Cruisers. We were thrilled to hear that they won a First Place Worlds Award in the Showtime Division in Nashville this past January, richly deserved. They kept us amused and delighted with their outstanding dance routine. What a talented group they are and we are so proud of our Ontario talent. (BTW for those of you who asked why I announced they were from India ….. last year I pronounced their town name as Delhi, as in India, instead of Delhigh– get it?! I admit that maybe it’s a bit subtle!!)
And, of course, dancers want to dance, that’s why we take all these lessons so we can get up on that dance floor and just let our bodies move to that music. Lyn Warden, our favourite DJ, understands that and does a great job of keeping the floor full while at the same time allowing some flexibility so different groups can dance their favourites. All too soon it was time to close the doors for a few hours of shut-eye until we were back for a repeat on Sunday morning. A low key session followed with reviews and a few oldies thrown in. Some chuckles, more great prizes and another toonie lunch and it was time to head home.
But, of course, for Val and her volunteers it was the beginning of the enormous job of emptying the hall. Each year they have to rent trucks in order to bring all the gifts, decorations, sound equipment and so on to the Hall and then they have to reverse the process at a point when they must be exhausted after all the activities and late nights of the event. But it never shows; all we see are smiles, good humor and a willingness to please. Many many thanks to Val and the gang for this wonderful event that brings us all together for a most worthy cause. There was already debate on our journey home as to what would be the best theme for next year!! No doubt as soon as Val announces it, the profit figures for Value Village will spike upwards!!! See you all next year with bells on or something like that!
@ The Hop by Carmel Hutchinson
A Welcome Call by Theresa Needham
Baby Blues by Tina Argyle
Big & Beautiful by Dan Morrison
Calendar Girl by Vito & Theresa Cucchiara
Can’t Believe You Wanna Leave by Dan Morrison
Deuce Coupe by Cathy Montgomery
Double Trouble’s Choice by Double Trouble
Enjoy Your Life by Francien Sittrop
Gude Directions by Norman Gifford
NOTE: Val has already announced that a whopping $9000 was made at the event. Many congratulations to all involved and thanks to the dancers for their generosity.