“It’s a kind of lotus land surrounded by mountains”, said my friend, “It has lots of flowers and everyone spends their time jogging by the ocean”! I had been to Vancouver once thirty years ago very briefly. I remembered the mountains but everything else was shrouded in clouds and grey, teeming rain! So which was the true image? As we flew above the clouds on our way east to the Vancouver Vibrations 2005 I pondered this question!
As it turned out, the image was a little bit of both!! We had chilly and wet unsettled weather with huge clouds hanging over the mountains for a few days which then turned into bright blue skies which revealed glorious rhododendrons of every hue everywhere I looked. Vancouver is known for its gardens and our hosts took us on a tour of lush, colourful gardens. A must visit is Stanley Park which is an evergreen oasis with massive, ancient trees and an abundance of wildlife. Even though it is close to the heart of the city’s downtown, the Park has the most wonderful views of the harbour and Pacific Ocean. In fact, most corners you turn in the city bring you out to a water view. Or alternatively .... a mountain view! If you want to ski or simply check out the view, the mountains are on your door step. Certainly, Vancouver has it all. And on top of that it has line dancing!! What more could you ask!!
This was the 6th year for the Vancouver Vibrations organized by Jenifer and Larry Wolf. Initially Jenifer taught dance roller skating. However, she subsequently accumulated extensive credentials and experience in teaching and judging couples and line dancing as well as competing and winning in many dance categories herself. Larry was a part-time ski instructor before he met Jenifer but he is now much involved in demos and also teaches with her. They are both adventurers and love to head off on their motorcyles! I had met this delightful couple when they visited Toronto and was delighted to be invited to be part of their event.
Based at the foot of the mountains, the attractive Sheraton Guildford Hotel welcomed the dancers. Food was available in the Café or you could relax in the Bar/Lounge. There was also a heated outdoor pool with a whirlpool/hot tub and a Health Club/Fitness Center. The dancing was mainly on the ground floor with three mid size rooms set aside and some smaller rooms on the second floor. Two of the rooms were specifically for the line dancing and the couples used the others. There were smiling faces and greetings as line dancers and couples passed each other in the hall and I enjoyed peeking in to see what was going on.
It was great to meet the local instructors who were teaching at the event. Christy Fox was first up teaching her dance ‘Cradle me’ which won the non country section of the choreography. Her dance ‘The King and I’ is already popular on the dance floors. She was a pleasure to watch dance during the weekend. Wearing two hats as DJ and instructor, Ember Schira always wore a smile on her face. Being a DJ is such a tricky job but Ember did her best to ensure that everyone had the opportunity to strut their stuff!! Later on during the weekend, Bill Bader took off his judge’s hat to teach a workshop. One of Canada’s top choreographers/instructors Bill needs no introduction and is known internationally for his dances. Bill’s list of awards and honours is endless. This year a new one was added when Jenifer and Larry presented him with a special award in acknowledgment of his vast contributions to the line dance world.
From the greatest distance south of the border, Tucson, Arizona in fact, came instructors/choreographers Lana and Tony Wilson. They have both written numerous dances which have been well received. Tony’s dance ‘Bad Reputation’ came 3rd in the Choreography (country) competition and Lana’s dance ‘Where We’ve Been’ is being danced right now across the world. John Robinson, hailing from Louisville, Kentucky, is one of the best known names in the line dance world and rightly so. An outstanding dancer and choreographer, he is a thrill to watch on the dance floor and his dances are household names in line dance circles. But aside from his abilities, John is so much fun to be around! A class with John is full of laughter and giggles, yet at the same time we all learn the steps however tricky. He’s invariably around on the floor during the day and at night ready for a lark and always seems to be enjoying himself. But I should mention ‘Last Days of Disco’ and ‘Keep It Burnin’‘ (choreographed with Craig Bennett) which I thought were excellent dances with great music.
From not so far away, Richland, Washington, to be precise, Jo Miller was a relaxed, capable instructor, teaching here for the sixth year. Jo also wore a second hat as one of the choreography judges. Her friendly, smiling face was often seen on the floor as she joined in with the dancers. I’ve left Paul & Karla Dornstedt to last simply because I’m not sure exactly where I should put that they come from!! That might seem strange, but what many of you probably don’t know is that, since retirement, the couple have made their home in an enormous RV and travel around the US ending up on the US/Canada border close to Vancouver for the summer! Lucky for us this talented couple include line dance instruction and choreography in their travels. Their dance ‘Miss Chatelaine’ won 3rd prize (non-country) at this event.
I had a lot of fun teaching very friendly and patient classes. It certainly makes a difference for an instructor when you turn and see smiling faces. I was also thrilled to win a 2nd place with my dance ‘One Bad Day (then I’ll be OK!)’ with my trusty side kick, Donna, dancing it with me. It is always a pleasure to meet up with dancers that I have met at other events and this time around there was the gang from Tacoma, Washington, enthusiastic and ready for fun. One of their group, Bob Reid, won a 1st in choreography for his dance ‘Heaven’s Sweetest Flower’. This was the first time Bob had ever competed so it was very exciting. It was also a pleasure to meet local instructor/choreographer Irene Groundwater who won a 2nd place with her dance ‘Nitty Gritty’.
The event started with a Friday night dance, followed by workshops and competition on the Saturday, Dinner/Dance on Saturday night and workshops until 4:30 on the Sunday. The Saturday buffet was very good and we enjoyed entertainment predominantly from the couples and swing dancers with some excellent performances. John Robinson with the ‘Johnettes’ (Susan, Sara and Bridget) held up the line dance flag!
Jenifer and Larry told me they were very happy with the event and the growth in participation of line dancers. They are hoping that the event will grow even larger and have already set the date for next year for May 19-21. So pencil in the date and look forward to Spring flowers in Vancouver in 2006!
Paul & Karla Dornstedt
All Of Me
We’ll Meet Again
Hit The Road Jack
Going All The Way
No, Sorry, Nothin’
Last Days of Disco
Keep It Burnin’
Hot Foot Cowboy
A Taste of Calypso
Tango Nel Fango
Isle of Romance
One Bad Day (then I’ll Be OK)
Good To Me
Clap Your Hands
Lana & Tony Wilson:
Some Old Road
Head For The Hills