New Years 2007 (Dec 31, 2006)
We'd planned on seating for 160, but eventually needed to add another three tables for a total of 184 dancers. Dancers traveled from North Van, Surrey, Abbotsford, Saskatchewan, and Alberta came out for a night of fun.
We promised an elegant event and my girlfriend Bertha & her friend Lynn Nelles (who do wedding decorating with their company "Occasionally Yours", did a fabulous job planning the "look" of the evening. It literally took us from 9:00am - 5:00pm to set everything up Dec 30 - the four of us plus Kathy Bishop along with Bob and his daughter. My son Mike looking dapper in his new suit ran the music for the night.
In November I'd gotten a fabulous deal on a $3,000.00 chandelier. Using donations from dance friends and my own money, we purchased the chandelier and Zale Hammren did the installation. The chandelier is quite beautiful and is available now for all my dances. It solved for me a consistent problem lighting this room.
I don't know what lights up a room more. Robyn or the chandelier!
For those of you who couldn't attend here's a summary. As with last year, dancers got more than they bargained for!
Doors opened at 6:00pm and the arriver's found their tables, grabbed some appetizers (cheeses & fruits very popular), did their picture taking, socialized, grabbed a drink from the cash bar, and listened to some of the most beautiful music I could find - Celine Dion, Kenny G, Barbara Streisand, Josh Grobin, Andrea Bocelli..
Chairs had covers, tables had lots of decorations
Trevor Lum from Excite Photography www.excitephotography.com did an excellent job with the photography & video. For $5.00 or 3 for $10.00 you could get a picture taken & printed almost on the spot.
The meal was top notch, from Cosmic Catering, and the only downside was I hadn't counted on how long it would take to get 183 people through dinner, which put us about a half hour behind! Next year the meal will start at 6:30. The meal had four entree's.
Surprise guests "Toute Suite" www.swansongproductions.com played during the last half of supper and for another 15 minutes just before midnight. "Toute Suite" is Darrell Swanson on keyboards (with bass & drums), his wife Joy on vocals, and Michelle Papineau-Stoen on lead vocals. You may know Darrell as he's the keyboard player with the Bruce James Orchestra. Never having danced ballroom, I got Michelle up for a Country 2-step which she followed admirably and then later on for a Jive. And Joy was impressed enough with the dancers that she'd like her and Darrel to take more lessons!
Toute Suite (Joy (Darrell's wife), Michelle, & Darrell
The music - From the feedback I got was a big hit. I had asked for people's favorite requests, and got a bundle of great ideas. Probably half the music was requests. My favorite requests were an idea to play the "Blue Danube Waltz" at midnight, and as it happens I have a fabulous version of that song, and the song right after that was a very beautiful slower waltz from Rawlins Cross called "The Wedding Gift", a Celtic instrumental song that starts with guitar and flute, then builds with accordion, that could easily of used bagpipes!
She could of danced with anyone, but chose Bob. No wonder he's smiling!
Here's the deal Lance. When you dance with beautiful women, you must look happy!
Salsa show dance
About 9:30 Bertha & I did a salsa show dance to amuse the crowd that went over very well. It was a very fast number and hot hot HOT 3:20! We used a song from "Touch and Go" called "Would you", that at the original speed was too fast for anyone to dance and at 6:58 was too long. But I managed to cut it in half and drop the speed 10%! Bertha wore a special dress and a wig with long hair and I was an "aging Latin dancer!" The theme of the song was "a guy practicing his salsa dancing is approached by an admiring lady, who makes herself known, he invites her to dance, and about 3/4's the way through the song she's impressed enough to ask an important racey question, and at the end of the dance he asks her another important question!" See the video here.
3:20 of hot & fast salsa required 3 glasses of punch right afterwards!
Night Club 2-step show dance
Night Club 2-step is one of my favorite dances. I love the beauty of the music, and the gracefulness of the dance itself, so when I came across an astoundingly beautiful version of Chopin's Nocturne in E flat which has numerous tempo changes, I knew something special had to be done with it. As a show dance it clocks in at a long 4:20, but I didn't see any way to make it shorter without losing too much interesting music. I originally envisioned it as "a guy out for a stroll encounters a group of five beautiful women, but of those, there is only one he must dance with. He approaches her, bows, puts a rose in her hair, and brings her onto the dance floor for a romantic dance"
About 10:30 Robyn PIcard & I did our show dance. Mostly Night club 2-step, bit Viennese and bit ballet, it proved a crowd pleaser. After approaching Robyn, bowing, I pulled a red rose from my lapel pocket and placed it in her hair which drew gasps from the crowd! During the dance while doing sways under the chandelier Robyn gave me an impromptu peck which I hadn't planned on, and later just after the "Viennese section" and we were swaying I dropped my head to her shoulders which she hadn't counted on! Dancing with Robyn is always a lot of fun and you feel pushed to perform at 150% and look as good as her (technique wise)! See the video here.
Just starting the Night Club 2-step show dance, that was so much fun
These dances were my first attempt at choreography, but Robyn made numerous changes to her's & my routine that really made the dance better than I could of imagined it could be. Robyn & I got our routine together with only four practice sessions, plus a final rehearsal Sunday in a "real" room! In the meantime there was a lot of practice by myself to set the moves in place, and then later using Bertha as a stand in partner in a tiny living room!
I got the idea for doing this after attending a three day swing workshop in Vancouver in March 2006. The workshop was fabulous, and I got to see a Country waltz that was easily equal to anything I've ever seen at the ballrooms, and then later on, a show dance that had the on-lookers in tears. The organizers of the event did a dance where the guy came out looking sad, stopped right in front of Bertha & I, dropped to one knee and put a red rose on a grave. He hears a sound behind him, turns around and a beautiful lady in a flowing white gown is dancing behind him. He rises, dances with her a truly beautiful dance, then fades away, leaving him alone again. He returns to the grave picks up his rose and sadly walks off. There wasn't a dry eye in the room.
At 11:30 as door prizes I gave away at least a dozen dance videos. Video's presented were my choice of some great dance video's from the 70's and onwards.
Shall we dance - Simply a great movie. Richard Gere in a tux is a must see, and Jennifer Lopez is really a fabulous dancer and she makes him look great!
Take the lead - Who can't love Antonio Banderas? Great accent, great looks, and even though he readily admits he can't dance, the story line is great and has some truly great insight into just why dancing is important.
Mad Hat Ballroom - Is based on a true story involving 11 year old New York school children. 10 years ago the American Ballroom Theatre started providing ballroom dance to 60 schools and this is a movie about the kids and their success & failure in going to "the big competition" As with "Take the Lead" there is more insight into "why ballroom dancing". Might sound dull as it comes across as a documentary, but still a very entertaining movie.
Saturday Night Fever - Starring John Travolta. I wonder if he can still dance, because he sure could back then! This movie was the ultimate Disco movie and made the Bee Gee's huge. So huge that despite their huge catalogue of great music "pre-disco" music, they ended up defining disco and were the brunt of a huge disco backlash later when not only were their records burned by people that hated disco, but they were for a long time were dismissed by the record industry and not allowed into the recording industry's "Hall of Fame" until more recently. Much after lots of less notable artists were allowed in. If you're a Fran Drescher fan, she also does some dancing and literally saved the movie when she talked John into continuing with the movie at a time when he was (I believe) dealing hard with his father's death.
Charm School - Was highly recommended to me as a movie that came out in 2005, but I haven't seen it yet. It does have many famous actors, but it's the unknown actors who dance.
I should of included these - but forgot about them till right now!
Grease - Most will know about this movie, has some great Jive moves
Urban Cowboy - Another John Travolta movie with great dancing.
One more from 2004 that involves going to a competition at Blackpool, was quite a good movie.
At midnight we had Champagne toast with some of the nicest New Years hats & horns I've ever seen. The ladies had a tiara with feathers and a necklace.
Right out of the '40's these guys look great in their new hats
4 amigo's. One is definitely happier than the rest
I do believe I spy Don Picard leading Maggie Bretton in a Country 2-step! Who knew?
Local Chiropractor gives a quick adjustment before the next dance!
Got hats, had some champagne... that would be Zale's empty beer bottle
But the highlight was really singing Auld Lang Syne. Everyone linked arms and for 3 1/2 minutes sang lyrics provided to a beautiful version done by James Taylor. See the video here.
Immediately following was dancing to a great version of the Blue Danube Waltz.
Lastly, at 12:30am we had a Men's Limbo contest which Trevor Lum won and a Ladies Limbo contest. Each winner won a $50.00 gift certificate from Jazz-Ma-Taz.
New Years 2006 email comments:
Hi Ray, This is a good one for you and your girlfriend, Bertha, doing the Salsa that night which I thought was enjoyable and fun. Happy New Year again. P&IY
Hi Ray: I think you did an incredible job putting the dance together for New Years. It was a great night and it was so nice for this event to be local. CL
It's GREAT that you keep your sense of humor...keep those e-mails coming. Keep up the good work and positive attitude. Have a GREAT and Melodic New Year..Best regards... BC
Hi Ray, JT and I would like to take a moment to thank you for all your hard work and commitment to creating a beautiful evening of entertainment for New Years' Eve. We found it to be a wonderful support of our dance community---who so appreciates a pleasant, smoke-free, and spacious venue---to dance. I am not on your mailing list, but would like to receive an e-mail when you are holding next years' New Years' Eve Dance, as we would very much like to attend again. EH
I thought you and your posse did an amazing job! You should be very proud of yourselves. G and I had a great time, even though I was sick with a virus! We would definitely attend in 2007!!!!!! Sincerely, K&GS
Hello Ray: There were 19 of us from the Arthur Murray studio (all at different levels of dance) and I have heard nothing but positive comments from everyone. A number of years ago I too had my own Wedding business, decorating etc. and event planning. So I appreciate all the hard work that it takes to put on an event of that magnitude. Right down to the last detail - you all did an awesome job!! Cosmic catering - the meal I thought was great, lots of food, and as I am not really a dessert person I cannot comment on the dessert! However, many from our tables enjoyed dessert. At our studio many of the students that did not attend commented that it appeared that they had missed a great event. J&CF
J and I had a wonderful time and wish to thank you so much. Our New Years was wonderful and we were able to share it with friends that we love. The decorations, food and entertainment was great. I thought the evening was so much fun, thanks to all of you. As for New Year's Resolutions, I'm still working on that. Thanks again, J&G
Hi Ray: So sorry to hear about all your troubles re new years eve dance I would just like to say I had an incredible time and as this time of year does not hold great memories for myself and alot of other peolpe, it's the best one I have had for years, so a huge thank you! I think you did a fabulous job and hope you continue to do so for many more years!. CJ
Dear Ray, We were very sorry to hear of some difficulties that happened at the dance. Donna and I thought it was a super event. Very well organized, beautifully decorated and great food. The whole evening; from the food to the selection of dances, was just great. It was a_ FIRST CLASS_ event and you should be receiving compliments We have had several friends and family say that they would be interested in coming to next New Years Eve. Anyway, THANK YOU again for a wonderful evening, B&W
Hi! Ray. You do not personally know us, but Robyn know us.N&O. All 8 of us for New Year's party we really enjoyed everything you done, we were really impressed. The room was well decorated, the food excellent, good choice of music and we like to see you performing dances, it was a good show. We hope you'll doing that again next year and count on us for the next year. Sincerely, N&O, JL, GR, B&J HAPPY NEW YEAR
Ray. The vast majority of us appreciate the hard work you put into this event. I am also sure that the vast majority enjoyed the event. It was affordable (as you mentioned), the food was more than good (do dancers really care for food ? ), the wine and spirits were also reasonably priced, and best of all - we could actually MOVE around the floor. Yes, everybody has their own idea of what a varied music selection is - personally I would have had more ballroom. But that does not mean that I was unhappy or that I did not have a good time or that I will complain. Not at all. You have a nice core of non-snobbish people that are there to enjoy themselves first and foremost. Having been to a few other places all I can say is that you try to keep it that way. It is people like you that keep these events going and make dancing attractive to beginners. Just my 2 cents. Thanks for all the hard work. We will continue to drop by occasionally. Happy New Year from G&B
Ray, C and I had a great time (we sat with Donn and Robyn's table). I was worried about a seven hour function as usually we have had enough in about 4 hours, however, the time just flew and we really enjoyed ourselves. The decorations were beautiful and the dance floor full, but not too crowded. Lots of variety in the music. I am confident that the vast majority enjoyed themselves C&J
Hi Ray: Thanks for all the work you put into it. This year was even better then last year! It is such a pleasure to have something fun and active to do on New Years. V&RH
It is a huge undertaking and everyone at our table appreciated all the efforts of you and your team. Your courage and confidence to perform was inspiring and entertaining. You made this large event seem very intimate, friendly and comfortable. Everything from the very pleasant caterers, excellent and abundant menu offerings, accommodating photographer and fabulous variety of music, mixers, dances and beautiful space added up to the best new year's eve we have ever had! YR&TF
Ray First, I would like to thank you for such as enjoyable New Year's Eve Party. Glad we heard about it and were able to obtain tickets. LA
Hi Ray, I just want to thank you for a great New Year's evening. Bill and I enjoyed ourselves immensely. Everything was lovely. It made our evening away from our friends so much more enjoyable because everyone was so friendly. Thanks again. Please add us to your email list so we can get the info about dance while we are in BC. We look forward to more dancing soon. Thanks again B&B from Saskatchewan.
Hi Ray, thanks for all the hard work for organizing the New Year's Eve party, it was fabulous with incredible decors
and the food was excellent. The singing group was also wonderful. Last but not least the Dance Demos were expertly
done !! congratulations. S&EC
By the by, it was a wonderful success
in my opinion and according to many comments I heard. You didn't a wonderful job
of dancing with your partners and it was a pleasant, casual feeling, comfortable
for all evening. There was enough mixing up of things to have everyone feel that
had things to do
Ray - Thanks for all your efforts putting these together. We do appreciate it. R&DS
First of all I would like to thank you for the wonderful New Years Eve Dance. Everything was great and I know our group thoroughly enjoyed themselves. The food, decorations, table centers were fantastic - you did a great job! C&J
New Years 2006
Great New Years Dance! Atmosphere electric, Decorations stunning, food plenty & delicious, dance space comfortable, demo's fun & entertaining. All in all I would say you and your helpers put on a great night - DP
Thanks for all your efforts in making last night an exceptional evening for all, in every way -DS
Hi Ray, Bertha & crew. Happy New Year and congratulations for a very successful party. You have transformed the hall to a beautiful venue to celebrate this memorable occasion. We, with our dance buddies had a wonderful time. We appreciate all the hard work, effort and absolute dedication to organize the event. We look forward to attend your monthly dances, and will not hesitate to bring new friends who like us, love to dance. Sincerely C&TY
Dear Ray, thanks for the New Year's dance -- we had fun! JD