When I decided to ignore self-imposed roadblocks, I discovered an exciting, inexpensive, and varied world of dancing in Metro Vancouver. Many dance classes, clubs, and venues eagerly await new members. To start dancing, all one needs is a desire to learn, some brainpower, a relatively mobile body and a smile.
My own love affair with dancing began several years ago. At age 53, when preparing for retirement, I asked myself several questions: What did I want to do with my unstructured time? How did I want to challenge myself? I knew I wanted to be a lifelong learner. I also knew that I wanted an activity that challenged me emotionally, spiritually, socially, intellectually and physically. Financially, since I would be on a pension, it had to be inexpensive.
Why not retire to dancing? It seemed to fit my criteria.
I began by scouring the community events section of the local newspaper where I spotted an ad for Scottish Country dancing in Coquitlam. After several lessons, I knew I would never dance alone again. Partner dancing was for me!
Duncan MacKenzie of the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society says, “It’s never too late to join. It’s great exercise for both mind and body, and you will find some very nice people as classmates. Once you have the basics down, then everything starts to fall into place.”
Men are really needed here. Women quite often dance as a man. Couples need to know that it is proper etiquette to share your partner.
Soon after joining SCD, I discovered the rich community spirit that characterizes Scottish ceilidhs. Held monthly at the Scottish Cultural Centre (8886 Hudson Street, Vancouver, B.C.), these dance parties are simply joyous. All ages are welcome and everybody dances. “Don’t come if you don’t want to have fun,” says Duncan.
On Tuesday nights, it’s time for international folk dancing. Since I dance as a single, this is my most enjoyable venue. The Burnaby International Folk Dancers meet weekly at the Charles Rummel Centre in Burnaby. This is folk dancing at its finest: friendly, positive people and superb teachers. As President Jane Kukpfer says, “We enjoy the fun, the exercise and the challenge, to our heads as well as our feet, of learning traditional dances from cultures throughout the world.”
I was delighted to discover I didn’t have to be Scandinavian to participate in Scandinavian dancing. I added it to my list. They meet on Wednesday nights at Burnaby’s Scandinavian Centre. Polkas, waltzes, snoa, hambo and schottis dance steps are featured. If you are prone to dizziness, this might not be a good dance choice since couples are often spinning and moving around in a circle at the same time. I would recommend joining this group as a couple. I have danced as a single, but, again, there just don’t seem to be enough good men to go around.
On Thursday nights, I particularly enjoy the 55+ group that gathers at Burnaby’s Bonsor Community Centre for ballroom dancing. Here, we enjoy the foxtrot, rumba, cha-cha and various jives and waltzes. John, my dance partner, says, “Let’s face it, if I wasn’t here dancing, I’d be home watching TV and stiffening-up.”
Sign up for lessons at community centres. They tend to be cheaper and senior discounts are offered, whereas private venues can get costly. However, if you want to try Maggie Bretton’s dance lessons offered the first and third Friday of every month at the Scottish Cultural Centre in Vancouver, she offers a one-hour lesson coupled with three hours of dancing for only $20. Singles are welcome, but I suggest bringing a partner.
If you are looking for daytime dancing, why not try line dancing? Single women dominate here - I have only seen one brave male at these lessons. If dancing in your own space, with a group of people suits you, why not give it a try? Again, check community centre listings.
Contra dancing is held monthly at various Vancouver locations on Friday and Saturday nights. All ages are welcome to join the set dances, done in long lines with couples moving simultaneously up or down the set. What an aerobic workout! Many men attend. Contra attracts free-spirited, fun, friendly and positive people. If you choose to get involved, you could find yourself dancing weekends and summers away all over North America.
Try jazzing up your Sundays with English Country Dancing. A Jane Austin fan, I easily adapted to this elegant and sometimes theatrical style of dancing. Two highlights here are the live bands and June Harman, the main caller. June is a gentle, encouraging teacher/caller. After only a few sessions, she had me feeling confident and comfortable. In April, I attended the annual ECD ball. It was a grand event.
Many men dance English Country, so I won’t have to dance as a man too often. At ECD, ladies are expected to share their men.
Finally, dancing doesn’t stop simply because it’s summer. Vancouver Parks Board offers Dancing at Dusk. Held at Ceperley Meadow, Stanley Park, this evening dance series includes Scottish Country on Mondays, International folk on Tuesdays and ballroom dancing on Wednesdays. Partners aren’t necessary. All levels are welcome and best of all - it’s free!
If you are still not satiated, try sassy summer salsa dancing at Ambleside Park in West Vancouver on Thursday nights. Open to the public, this annual offering requires no registration and costs only $6 to drop in.
For an active lifestyle, try one, try some, or try them all. If you do, enjoy the challenge, fellowship, joy, beauty, fun and excitement of the dance. Wish I could tell you more, but I have to go dancing!
Contact Maggie Bretton - DancewithMaggie@telus.net
She can send you a newsletter via e-mail 604-437-9464
BALLROOM AND LINE DANCING
Community Centres (Burnaby) Bonsor 604-439-5510,
BURNABY INTERNATIONAL FOLK DANCERS
Website: http://www.burnabyfolkdance.shawwebspace.ca E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone: 604-522-2031 or 604-298-2983
DANCING AT DUSK
ENGLISH COUNTRY DANCING
Website: www.juneharman.com/ecd or phone 604-926-0875
West Vancouver Parks Board 604-925-7200
SCOTTISH CEILIDH AND SCOTTISH COUNTRY DANCING
Or contact Duncan MacKenzie for the ceilidh newsletter: email@example.com
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