New Years 2010 (Dec 31, 2009)
As guests arrived into the RMSS, there was a trail of masks on the floor showing the way to the event. We had a table set aside for guests to sign a huge card for Bill Mckinnon - a Coquitlam dance teacher (who also holds monthly dances in Burnaby), and who was involved in a very serious multiple car pile up Dec 26, 2009 on the Port Mann bridge. His car was totaled under a bus, and Bill is currently in Royal Columbian Hospital, with seven broken ribs on his back. We had guests sign the card, and John & Linda Holmes took it to him the next day.
Upon "leaving" the cruise ship, guests were treated to a bone fide Mardi Gras Hurricane drink (non-drinkers got punch). The first 133 persons got a flashing glass - these glasses have a button on the bottom and when you engage it, the glass flashes three different colors for 30-60 seconds. Why only 133? Because there weren't any more left in the lower mainland! The last 23 guests to arrive got standard glass cups.
Bertha and I had purchased much of the materials for this night in the last two years. We spend 2-3 days a month looking for inspiration and good deals for future dances. The main prizes, the Voodoo Ladies, I made a base, mounted a Styrofoam head then sprayed each of 26 a different color, then Bertha and Lynn designed & decorated them. . Bertha, myself & Lynn each kept a favorite! I added a name tag to each one using exotic names. Bertha had spent a couple of days washing, drying, and ironing 200 chair covers back in August, so that was all done, but Dec 30 we started at 9:00am and finished the bulk of set up by 8:00pm, with help from a group of friends - Myself, Bertha, Lynn, husband Richard, Debbie, Bob, Steve & Elaine, Zale & Vicky, Robyn and her two children, and Mike and Alex. The next day we added another 3 hours of final touches, so there is a lot of setup.
Unlike other DJ's I never do music "on the fly" because it's just too important, and for this event, choosing the music and pre-recording it took about three days. During the night I played music for about 20 different dance styles
While I originally wanted authentic spicy Mississippi food, my caterer "Cosmic Catering" toned it down big time! While the Roast Baron of Been was Cajun flavored on the outside, I didn't even taste it. There was New Orleans Rice which had spices, but most of us couldn't even taste the spices, so for all intents and purposes the food wasn't spicy! I'd heard rumors that some people chose not to come because of the spices, but really, even if you didn't like the "Cajun Beef", there was still lots of Wild Baked Salmon and the fabulous Chicken.
I started the night by inviting 27 people onto the dance floor to the music of Dionne Warwick's Night Club 2-step "That's What Friends Are For". Bob Brando & Kathy Bishop, Chris Rasmussen, Ted & Christine Yeoh, Dan and Marsha Hansen, Steve & Elaine Chu, Jay & Emily Loh, John & Judy Wilson, Gloria & Mike Hamor, Janice & Johnson Tsai, Kevin & Rose Reid, Trevor & Lorraine Lum, Marlene Jackson, Vicky Mason & Zale Hammren, Robyn Picard & Dave Johnson, and of course my girlfriend Bertha. The reason as everyone found out was that they'd all now been to all five of my New Years dances. We made one big Soul Train, and grooved around the floor picking up more passengers to Lionel Ritchies "All Night Long". Just when we got almost everyone out of their seats, we did a Samba Line dance, setting the mood for the night! After that we officially started dancing. In the 2nd hour of dancing at the end of a Night Club 2-step I asked all the guys to leave the floor and invited all the ladies to the floor for my version of "Girls Gone Wild"! The songs I chose were Lolly's "Girls just want to have fun" fun into Gloria Gaynor's "I will Survive", ending with Lolly's song. It was a huge hit! This was followed by a song called "Mardi Gras Mambo" that we did a Mambo Line Dance to. During the night I played a number of Mardi Gras themed songs, like "Hot Hot Hot", and "Muskrat Ramble"...
Rod Boss "Canada's Premier Close Up Comedy Magician", came a half hour early and did a fabulous job of entertaining guests as they arrived from 6:00-7:00. Then as tables were waiting to go up to eat, he entertained those also. He was scheduled to do an 8:00-8:30 performance, but gave us a 40 minute performance. Next Jack and Jean Phillips who started dancing together at age 14, taught dance for 26 years, and now have danced together for 63 years did a great Tango show dance for us. Zelia did two performances starting at 9:45, and amazed us with her agility and technique. She got several members of the audience up and played around them which she and us really enjoyed (video to come) Guaranteed that when I download it to YouTube you'll be equally impressed.
Mardi Gras flavors
Mardi Gras is about big things, colors, dancing and FUN! The room was beautifully decorated. It's one thing to imagine how you want it, but there is no way to imagine how it's really going to look until it's finally done as I was making changes till the day before. From the decorating end we had huge goblets on the tables with glow stick straws, and lights embedded in the cups with real garnishes. All the tables had 3 beads at each place setting. We had 70 different masks and Bertha & I had spent a day washing 160 glasses (133 people got a flashing glass), and then dividing up the masks so that no one within 4-5 tables had a mask similar. Each mask was attached to a wine glass at each place setting. The drink when guests arrived was a genuine Mardi Gras Hurricane drink which was orange juice, pineapple juice, grenadine and Lambs dark Rum. Our bartender had years of experience and could make many standard drinks. The light tubes with three colors highlighted the stage and extended two walls around the room-we'd bought 300 feet of these! I'd just gotten a great deal on a 24" disco ball and had that mounted near our chandelier.
To get an idea of the room with the lights out go HERE.
Was this event a success?
Last year, I'd sold all 200 tickets by Nov 7 2008, but this year by the end of November it was looking like I'd be facing a $4,000.00 loss. Even the day of the event I had a loss, but with the bar, and alcohol returns I'm a bit in the black, so all's well. Where did we go wrong? Nowhere. Previous attendees had to attend events in Richmond, some chose Joy's Dance club, choosing instead to Triple Step all night long, and there was a NY dance in Abbotsford... That took potentially 5-6 tables of guests who'd attended the year before. However, thanks to our Limbo champ Sandy Jurick we had five tables of Arthur Murray dancers!
But for the people who attended, it was universal, everyone was stunned and amazed and many used the word "Magical". One gent from the White Rock Arthur Murray group told me "I was looking for a NY dance and had a choice of a few, but came here because this is where other Arthur Murray people would be, and I sure made the right decision, this is amazing". A lot of people commented on the atmosphere and most of all - the music.
Our next New Years!
Well, here's the bad & good news! Our cruise ship meets with an accident and we're stranded on a tropical island. Stay tuned for tickets to go on sale in Sept 2010! Can we out do this years event? We'll see, either way, we'll try again to make it a better New Years dance than any one else is offering!