Yorkshire, UK
June, 2006

“They are such a fun couple”, I thought when I first met John and Maureen Rowell way back in November 2005 at the Vegas Dance Explosion.  “They look like they are having a ball!”  We chatted and laughed together as the event progressed and then they turned up at my 9 a.m. Sunday morning class for a review of ‘Still Waters’.  With a few minutes to spare we danced ‘Clap Your Hands’.  “Our dancers will looove it”, the two chorused together and that was how our relationship began.  They took the dance over to the UK where it spread out from Yorkshire to as far away as the Netherlands.   So it was with pleasurable anticipation in June this year that I began my trek from the south east of England up to Yorkshire to visit relatives and at the same time to participate in one of Grrowler’s famous Showcases.

Some of you might have seen the TV programmes ‘Heartbeat’ or  ‘Emmerdale’ or the movie ‘The Full Monty’ all of which take place in Yorkshire and, yes, they do talk like that!  I just love the accent although I have to admit I do not understand everything that is said to me!!    It’s a county of rugged moors and rolling dales as well as golden beaches and towering cliffs with pretty villages dotting the countryside and lively market towns which feature lots of fresh home grown produce for purchase.   Did you know that Captain James Cook hailed from Yorkshire and set sail on his voyages from Whitby and that legend has it that King Arthur of the Round Table is buried here.  In fact, Yorkshire’s history spans 2000 years with Roman invaders and Viking settlers playing a role, Kings and Knights battling it out, and it was also the birthplace of the industrial revolution in the 19th Century. In addition, I bet you didn’t know that if you visited the little village of Gawthorpe on Easter Monday you will be able to witness the World Coal Carrying Championship.  Men have to lug a 50kg sack of coal, women have it a little easier with a 20 kg sack, but both have to run close to a mile before dumping the sack at the foot of the Village Maypole! 

“There she goes again”, you might be saying!  So I’ll move onto the dancing!  John and Maureen’s Showcases are held in the sports centre of Leven, a little village just outside the quaint market town of Beverley – not to be missed if you’re traveling up this way.    They started the workshops in order to give unknown choreographers the opportunity to present their creations together with more well known individuals.  I thought this was a terrific way to encourage new talent.   I should at this point tell you a little about John and Maureen.  They both discovered line dancing together but initially it was John who got into the teaching and became a fully qualified Western Dance Instructor. 

However, in addition John is an instrument technician on an oil rig in the North Sea for three weeks at a time then spends three weeks on the mainland.  So while he is away Maureen teaches seven classes a week and runs three socials a month.  When John returns, they run the workshops; are dance leaders for Kingshill Holidays and instruct at other dance festivals as well as running their own weekend events.  Both of them are totally committed to our line dance community and it is obvious that they love what they do.   They teach all levels of line dance and Maureen takes great pride in the program she has developed for her beginners and subsequently in their progress as they gain confidence and feel able to tackle more difficult dances.  Although they both love country music, they enjoy and teach dances to all types of music.  John has also choreographed a number of dances including ‘Love’s Around’ which was nominated for a Linedancer Award and was one of my favourite dances.  A well rounded pair indeed.

You cannot help but notice John’s wonderful moustache in the photos!  I was intrigued to read on his bio how this came about.  It seems that John used to play around with shaving his facial hair – check his website for the full story!  But one year he came home with his current moustache and Maureen’s comment was “You can leave that on, people will remember something as stupid as that!”  And it’s been there ever since together with his cowboy hat!   I think it looks rather dashing!!

Back to the event …. I arrived at the hall to the sound of laughter and the bustle of busy people rushing around with banners and decorations in their hands.   Pretty soon a colourful hall emerged ready for action!  Dancers started arriving around 3 p.m. along with Dave Munro from Nottingham.  Dave wrote ‘Brokeback Waltz’ which was published in Linedancer Magazine and is a lovely waltz which is gathering dance fans.   A tall, attractive young man with a warm smile, Dave hails from Nottingham, the former abode of Robin Hood!  I reckon Dave would look pretty good in green tights with a bow and arrow in his hand!  As it is he looked good with a cowboy hat!   All together, between us we taught seven dances to very patient dancers with lots of open dancing in between.  Maureen was often on the dance floor and then with a wide smile would head off to socialize with her delighted guests.  Although John manned the very professional DJ booth, he is an excellent dancer and once the music started he was invariably on the dance floor leading the dances.

There were refreshments available all day with tea and coffee along with soft drinks and a bar for those who fancied a beer.  Then around six out came all the food;  it was wonderful – like a community picnic!!  Maureen had prepared all kinds of goodies for us at our table but everyone popped from table to table to see what was on offer!   What a friendly crowd they were.  And, of course, you could dance in between bites as John didn’t stop even to eat!!     The dancing went on until 10:30 and finally it was time to pack up and head home.  It was an excellent event led by a delightful couple whose enthusiasm for line dancing is contagious.  John is going to be teaching at the Vegas Dance Explosion this coming November so do drop in to say hello to him and to Maureen!    

Dances Taught:

Dave Munro:
Love ‘n’ ‘Appiness
Put Your Records On
Feel My Thigh

Vivienne Scott:
Soft & Slow
Don’t Let Go


While I was over in the UK I also visited and instructed at Mark & Jan Caley's class in Colchester.  The dancers were all very patient with me as I taught Mestizzo and Sleeping With the Past.  I was very pleased to learn Mark & Jan's great new dance 'Dime a Dance' .  It's always fun to spend time with the Caleys  -  they're lovely people and very talented..
MICK BENNETT and his wife Wendy run  the Tulsa Shuffle Line Dance Club. which is less than five minutes away from where my parents live so I popped over to visit.   There was lots of excitement as they had just become the grandparents of twins!  With his dry sense of humour and patience Mick is a good instructor;  he also has a good ear for music and found 'Sweet Nothings' for 'Dance-Zone -- it goes perfectly..