It all started when Val Keller decided she needed some new nightwear.  But what to get? ...  Should it be comfy pajamas?  Maybe a glamorous flouncy nightdress?  On the other hand, when the nights get cold a flannel nightgown might be more appropriate.  She mulled it over.  They rarely put nightwear on models in shop windows (unless they are those red and black things with holes in funny places) so it was hard for her to picture which would be best.  Suddenly one night she sat up with a flash of inspiration ....  A pajama party!  Absolutely perfect, that way everyone could parade their nightwear and she could then decide what would suit her best.  And so the Dancin' for Miracles Pajama Party was born!!!

As you can imagine, once the word got out there quite a bit of excitement.  After all,  how many opportunities do you get to parade your night attire in public?  This was going to be quite an event.  For weeks the first thing one line dancer said to another was "What are YOU going to wear?"  They wanted to make sure they wouldn't all turn up in the same Mickey Mouse shortie PJs.  Line dancers have their pride after all!  And so,  if you happened to be wandering around Wasaga Beach the weekend of September 10-12 and saw lots of people who seemed to have forgotten they were supposed to sleep in their bedrooms, you will have now been enlightened as to what was taking place!  No doubt you were envious and you were right to be so ....  A fantastic time was had by all.

For those of you not in the know , over the four years that Val has organized  'Dancin' for Miracles' , the event has raised nearly $33,000 for the fight against cancer (including the close to $8000 from this year's event).  Aside from being such a worthy event, it is a "must go" weekend for it's friendly, sociable and fun atmosphere.   So let me fill you in on this year's event.  As we entered for the Friday night dance we were greeted with a colorfully decorated  Hall.  Every table was covered with brown paper with crayons on top to keep us entertained when we rested our weary feet and with balloons held down with bags of candies for our energy sugar fix!!    Lynn Warden was our DJ for the weekend and she fulfilled her role with charm, warmth, humour and a terrific mix of music that allowed all dancers an opportunity to get on the floor and we were soon kicking up our heels.   We rested a little while we enjoyed the demo by 'The Determinators' with Shirley Robinson & friends and then we dug into our bags and pulled off our boots (and whatever else they needed!) to help our instructors as they raced around the hall on a scavenger hunt!   

At the same time we also checked out the penny sale.  If you have never had a chance to participate in Mrs. Betty Keller's penny sale you have missed out in life!  Betty spends the whole year collecting wonderful items that she and her friends organize into numerous baskets which are then beautifully wrapped ready for us to bid on.  The idea is that you place tickets into the jars next to the baskets you would love to have.  At the end of the event a ticket is pulled out of each jar and if you're lucky you've won one of the gifts!   In addition,  Betty had a surprise for us this year and that was a different type of auction.  This time we bought envelopes with a little slip of paper inside which either let you know that you had won a prize or wished you 'Better Luck Next Year'.  Have a look at the photo page to see the prizes that we could win...there were literally hundreds of them.  On top of that there was a raffle that included a microwave and DVD among its prizes.  Then a separate table with small gifts for dancers who had 'stars' on their event bands.  It is unbelievable the amount of energy and time that goes into collecting and organizing these items.  It left us all in awe of this kindly, grand-motherly lady who looks like a home body.  But looks are misleading, Betty spends much of her time out searching for gift donors in her quest to raise money to support the fight against cancer.   Many thanks to Betty and her friends for their tireless dedication to this cause.

So on to Saturday and time to dance.  While the couples were enjoying themselves being taught in a separate room by Deb Levesque & Mike Bishop, Dave & Linda Corke and Pat & Joe Pallas, the line dancers learnt from Pat Cole, Norma Henderson, Leanne Nahrang, Robert 'Croc' Young, Dan Morrison, Fred Buckley, Kathy K, Cathy Montgomery, Debby Wilcox, Jill Baker, Gloria Kirchner & Dianne Bishop.   An excellent mix of beginner/intermediate dancers were taught (see list below) and I saw instructors writing down notes on their step sheets,  obviously delighted to find dances to take back for their students.   But the instructors didn't just teach;  we were hugely entertained by Kathy K and her posse who rode forth on their hobby horses to put us in the mood to 'Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy'!   Our sides were sore from laughing at the outfits paraded by 'Croc', Dan and Fred, let alone Val Keller and her mystery instructors!  What a fun filled day!

We had a few hours break between the workshop and evening dance and some dancers took the opportunity to swim in Georgian Bay and stroll on the beautiful sand beaches of Wasaga.   So refreshed and smartly clad in our nightwear we returned for an evening of entertainment and dance.  We were greeted by Val at the door who handed everyone a teddy bear to cuddle up to for the evening.  I must add here how welcome Val made everyone feel.  She was constantly walking around checking that we were all enjoying themselves.  She expressed her appreciation numerous times to the dancers for supporting the event making us all feel good.  She too was thanked when Ray Turcotte presented her with a plaque in appreciation of all her efforts organizing this event for so many years.

Lynn did a great job in the evening keeping the floor full most of the time as well as interspersing some lesser known dances and trying to play most of the requests.  The results of the penny sale and the raffle were announced later in the evening and the lucky winners collected their prizes.   Tired but happy we headed off at midnight only to return at 9 on Sunday morning!   Wisely the next morning the instructors predominantly reviewed the dances they taught the day before.  An unexpected highlight though was the 'tongue in cheek' demo by Dan and Fred.  What wonderful dancers they are.  It was worth the trip to Wasaga just to watch them dance. 

All too soon it was time for the dancers to head on their way.  We left the exhausted organizers clearing up but still with smiles on their faces.  This was an exceptionally well organized event with an enormous amount of thought put into keeping the dancers happy.    Each morning there was coffee, tea, donuts and fruit laid out.  In addition, a plentiful 'toonie' lunch was available both Saturday and Sunday organized by the volunteers.    We were asked to address envelopes and I was told it was so Val could send 'thank yous' to everyone who attended.   Well ... Val, Rose, Ray, Betty and all the volunteers, it is us the dancers who owe you an enormous THANK YOU for your tireless energy in putting together such a wonderful event.  I'm already looking forward to next year.

Dances taught:

'Blue California', choreo.  Audrey Watson
'Heart of Mine', choreo. Dianne Bishop & Gloria Kirchner
'Honk Honk', choreo.  Kathy "K"
'Floating Away', choreo. Fred Buckley
'I've Got a Feelin'', choreo.  Ben Genereaux
'Like They Used To', choreo.  DJ Dan & Wynette Miller
'Magic', choreo.  Julia Ann Kennedy & Dancin' Terry
'Never Stop Cha Cha', choreo.  Cathy Montgomery
'P.J. Blues', choreo.  Gloria Kirchner & Dianne Bishop
'Save A Horse - Ride a Cowboy', choreo.  Jamie Marshall & Bob Watters
'Small Price to Pay', choreo. Carl Edwards
'The Cowboy', choreo. Norma Henderson & Pat Cole
'What a Night', choreo.  Debby Wilcox
'Win Or Lose', choreo.  Jill Baker

Wasaga Beach, Ontario
Sept. 2004