It is seven years ago now that with eagerness and anticipation I headed off to an event in the UK where the star of the show was Maggie Gallagher.  I had heard so much about her that I was a little dubious as to whether anyone would be able to live up to such a reputation – dynamic, incredible dancer (both line and Irish dancing), charismatic, amazing choreographer, fantastic instructor and so on and so forth!   But, as soon as she took to the stage I knew that everything I had heard was completely accurate.  Since that time Maggie has won so many awards that I think she will have to buy another home to house them in!!   So you can imagine how I felt about instructing at an event with her – rather like a school girl meeting her idol!!  Add into the mix Big Dave who is a great friend and fantastic DJ and Kim Ray, the talented choreographer of ‘It’s Up To You’, one of my all time favourite dances, and I was in line dance heaven!  So now I’ve set the stage for the Maggie G & Big Dave Experience in Bournemouth, June 2007 and I should note that this event was sold out months ahead of the date.

The event was held in the Carrington Hotel.  It’s a very comfortable, spacious hotel with excellent food; breakfast and evening meal was included in the package and lunch could be ordered from the bar.  The staff was friendly and helpful and always smiling.  The only fly in the ointment was that the day before the event Dave was informed that the event hall would not be available until after 5 o’clock as students from all over Bournemouth were writing their exams in it!  Dave had expected to be completely set up by that time as registration started at 3 p.m.  Suffice to say, Pauline, Dave and Maggie don’t panic and are fast and efficient, and with good friends chipping in and helping the Hall was ready for action as the majority of dancers started arriving.

The theme for the first night was ‘Hats’ and most definitely there were some strange looking things perched on people’s heads!   Line dancing Bingo proved a big draw with Maggie obviously an old hand at calling out the numbers ‘Legs eleven’ etc!!   We had a session of Maggie dances new and old and it’s amazing how many big hits Maggie has written.  Dave kept the floor full the whole evening and to the early hours of the morning, in fact I reckon he hardly left his DJ booth, he seemed tireless.   He was up early again the next morning checking out his equipment as he reckoned he heard a slight buzz and he wanted the sound to be perfect.   Dave is certainly a DJ who cares about his dancers.

The next day was a mix of teaching and dancing with a break for lunch and then dinner.  The Saturday evening theme was ‘The Sea’.  There were some fantastic outfits, many of which were hand made.  Kim and I were the judges for the best costume and it was a really difficult decision, we almost had to end up tossing a coin!   A quiz got many people scratching their heads while others seemed to know every scrap of information there is to know about our line dancing world.  Then it was the moment for the ‘Dippy Chicks’ to take to the stage for the first time in line dancing history!  No doubt many of the dancers there might have added under their breath (“and the last time!”).  However, they can’t have been too bad as they ended up doing two encores.  As to whether that might be because the dancers were curious as to whether they could get any worse I don’t know!!  Regardless, Dippy Dora, Thelma and Louise are eagerly awaiting contracts for other events.   Again Dave kept the floor full until well past midnight.  The next morning brought more of the same including reviews of dances taught on Saturday until finally it was time for everyone to pack up, say their goodbyes and head home.

So let me recap – an extremely well run event.  There was a detailed schedule; a feature of Dave's events that I've noticed before and found very helpful.  The themes were a lot of fun and Maggie, Dave and Pauline went to enormous trouble to create the appropriate atmosphere in the hall.  With creative inspiration from Frieda Tozer, the stage could well have been Bournemouth beach!  All the tables had their haul of sea-like candies (you know … pink shrimps, star fish and so on and yes you CAN eat them!)  All these little details count and the dancers seemed to appreciate them.  Dave had arranged the dancing schedule so that there was literally something for everyone and he was always open to requests.   When she wasn’t teaching or dancing, Maggie was chattin’, going from table to table joking and laughing with the dancers.   I met dancers there who said they go to every one of her events however far they have to travel.  She has extremely loyal fans and no wonder.    Her dances were very well received and she taught a good mix --  'NIMBY' is a great dance to a country track,  ‘CT Girl’, a new dance Maggie wrote for this event, terrific pop track, and ‘I Love Candy’ nice, fun easy dance.   'Celtic Reel' brought out the Irish in us all, lots of fun.  Maggie also reviewed dances by request.  What an excellent instructor Maggie is, her energy and absolute determination that you will get the dance made sure you did!

I had the pleasure of sharing a room with Kim Ray.  I had never met her before so didn’t know what to expect but to my delight we didn’t stop laughing the whole weekend long!!   Kim should have been a comedian, in addition, what a kind and thoughtful person she is.   Of course she is also a very talented choreographer.  Dancers were eager to learn her new dance ‘Almaz’ which is flying up the charts but they were also treated to ‘Funky For Me’ and ‘Love Bug’ (if you are a Mr. Pinstripe fan you will enjoy this dance).

Of course, what can make or break an event are the dancers themselves and these dancers were up for a good time.  They wanted to enjoy themselves and they did.  They were so much fun to be around and I’d like to thank them for making me feel so welcome and part of the gang.  They were very patient when I taught ‘No Tricks’ and ‘I’m Coming Home’ and many thanks for the kind words from instructors who had taught ‘Wonderland’ and ‘On My Mind’.  It is very gratifying to hear that your dances are enjoyed.

Maggie and Dave will be putting on another event together in Bournemouth June 2009 but if you’d like to go to another of their events meanwhile do check out their websites.  You will laugh a lot, dance a lot and be well looked after for sure, for sure!  What more could you want?!!!!

Bournemouth, UK 2007
I also had the pleasure of teaching at Carol Simmons' class on Canvey Island, Essex, Vera & Teresa's at Stanford-Le-Hope and Andrew and Sheila's in Cambridgeshire.  They are all excellent instructors and their dancers made me feel very welcome.  Many thanks to you all.
Carol's friendly dancers
So nice to see welcoming familiar faces at Andrew & Sheila's class.  They also put on quite a spread just in case I was hungry after my journey.
Andrew Palmer & Sheila Cox
These talented choreographers have adapted 'No Tricks' for couples, check it out.