Things are about as normal as we are going to get this year I suspect. We are going to make some changes for the new year class structure however to ensure our continued success. Details are below.
See also below for information about:
Line Dancing and the Media
Dance Floor Ettiquette
Heath Family Life Changes
Holiday Class Programme
Line Dance Class Restructure
Line Dance Overseas Holiday
Liz & Peter Heath and the Instructor Team
Line Dancing and the Media
I was asked by one of our dancers why "line dancing" in the movies doesn't look like what they get taught in class. This is a great question, so I thought I would pass on my answer to the rest of you so you can understand what we are up against.
When Line Dancing first become popular (in the early 1990's) it was very "Yee Haah" and leggy, with obviously country music and lots of slaps and jumps and hops, with cowboy boots and hats by the 10 gallons. This is what most people assume is still the case.
When the producer of a show, either stage, movie or TV develop their scenes, they want to give the audience what they expect, not educate them about reality. They are also looking for a spectacle, rather than something visually mundane.
The makers of Dancing with the Stars don't go down to the local community hall on a Saturday night and film the people doing the Military 2 Step at the Monthly 60/40 dance. They teach their participants things that look spectacular and will attract and enthrall audiences, even though it bears little resemblance to the grass roots of Ballroom Dancing.
We have the same perception problem. The line dancing we do feels wonderful to do, but doesn't look visually spectacular. Our Adelaide dancers have participated in movies (Thunderstruck), TV Series (McLeod's Daughters) and stage shows (Man From Snowy River). In all cases we were directed to do stuff that was quite different from what we do in class. It was fun to do, but not really line dancing.
You might also note that the age (and shape lol) demographic of actors used in "line dance" appearances on TV is not reflected on the dance floors in today's classes.
Dance Floor Etiquette
The numbers at our regular Monthly socials continue to grow, which is wonderful. However it has been noted that many of the newer dancers (and some of the veterans) do not seem to be aware of how to conduct themselves when there are a large number of people on the floor. For this reason, I am including a few recommendations here:
When forming up the lines on the floor, please attempt to keep them straight and evenly spaced. This allows the maximum people on the floor without traffic accidents. If everyone is spread out randomly, there is much more likelihood of bumping into each other, due to differing step lengths and the occasional mistake that people will inevitably succumb to.
When leaving the floor, especially if people are still dancing, please take the shortest route to the edge of the dance floor and then travel around the outside, rather than ploughing though the dancers to get where you are going. Remember that people travelling backwards cannot see you there and may inadvertently bump into you, or you may trip them over causing injury.
When a dance is finished, if you are not planning on dancing the next one, please leave the wooden dance floor, to allow the rest of the dancers to form their lines, rather than standing and chatting. There is plenty of carpeted seating area for chatting.
Heath Family Life Changes
In the last newsletter, we showed you photos of our Daughters wedding in May. Well, as you may have heard, Rachel and Nick are now expecting their first child (a boy), due in April. This is our first Grand child, and we are both very excited for them. As they live in Melbourne, it creates difficulty in seeing and experiencing our Grand child's development.
To make it easier for us to spend the occasional weekend in Melbourne at short notice (once the Covid restrictions are lifted) we are changing some of our personal class commitments in the New Year.
We hope you understand, but it is important that we develop a proper work life balance as we become doting Grand parents.
Holiday Class Programme
Over the last few Years, we have been offering line dance classes over the Xmas break for the addicted devotees, or those wanting some social contact and exercise during the long break.
In the past we offered 2 classes North and 2 classes South, with one being Easy Level and the other Transition Level. Though the concept was successful overall, we found out that many people were using those classes as an opportunity to explore the next level up rather than the level they currently danced. Therefore the Transition class was well supported, but the beginner class was not as successful.
So this Xmas break we have decided to run them slightly differently. We will only be offering one class North (West Croydon - RSL) and one classSouth (Clarence Gardens - St Francis Church).
Clarence Gardens - St Francis Community Centre, Cnr South Rd and Dinwoodie Ave (park on the tennis court) - Monday 10 am-Noon, 3 rd, 10 th, 17 th and 24 th of January
West Croydon - RSL, Cnr Rosetta St & Herbert Road, Thursday 10 am-Noon, 6 th, 13 th, 20 th and 27 th January
These classes will have material from levels 3 to 5 as part of the programme. There will be a level 5 dance taught, but there will not be any requests for level 5 material allowed, so the class doesn't get too difficult for the newer dancers. There will not be any actual new choreography introduced, but will draw from our vast selection of classic dances gathered over the years. Johnathon will be running both classes. Should inexperienced dancers attend, the level will be adjusted to accommodate them for some of the session.
Line Dance Class Restructure
Prior to 2017, our classes had gone into a period of stagnation for over 10 Years. There was no movement from level to level, and very few new dancers joining and staying in our classes. Many of the higher level classes were closing through lack of numbers, and the network was shrinking through attrition. We determined that the levels of class that we had contained too wide a spectrum of dance material to be absorbed by new dancers and it was scaring them off. Also long term existing dancers were too "comfortable" in the level they were at, and there was no incentive to explore something more challenging.
Since then, we have been working towards developing a dance class location and choreography content structure that will be sustainable for both new dancers and existing dancers into the future.
We have done this in three ways.
Firstly, we have created a measuring tool to automatically estimate the difficulty of all the dance choreography that we do (from the past and into the future) using logical reasons, rather than personal taste. The dance choreography is measured on a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is easy and 10 is virtually impossible. This tool is nearly complete, and I envisage that we will be setting the levels of the dances we have done so far in their permanent homes over the Xmas break. From then you will not be having large numbers of dances "removed" from your class play list as has happened in the past. There may be an occasional mistake that may need correcting as we fine tune the tool, but the vast majority of dances will be locked in.
Secondly we have created a class structure that enables people to progress through those difficulties at the pace they want, without the pressure to have to compete with higher level dancers or understand higher complexity dances before they are ready or willing. We have given these class "levels" names that make sense to people unfamiliar to line dancing. We have avoided using the names used elsewhere (such as beginner, improver, intermediate, absolute beginner, advanced beginner etc), as they imply that a dancer is always striving to get to some ultimate "advanced" unreachable goal, even though most are just looking for social interaction with a fitness flavour and a bit of a mental challenge.
The class level names are:
Lifestyle Level (Dances level 1-2)
Easy Level (Dances level 1-3)
Mainstream Level (Dances level 4-5)
Challenge Level (Dances level 6-7)
Advanced Level (Dances level 8-10)
We also have two levels designed to assist people in making the jump from one level to the next. People can stay at these levels, but are encouraged to move on when they are ready. These are:
Transition Level (Dances level 4)
Crossover Level (Dances level 6)
Thirdly, we have attempted to place classes where they can feed each other without forcing people to choose between classes rather than being able to do both options, should they want to.
As part of this restructure, we are picking selected venues to have multiple classes of differing levels. We are calling these "Line Dance Hubs". We have one of these working at Clarence Gardens (Inner Southern Region). We have 4 daytime classes there: Easy, Transition, Mainstream and Crossover.
We have another one in Seaton (Western Region) with 4 classes there: 2 Easy, 1 Transition and 1 Mainstream.
There is a cluster of daytime classes in the Southern Region that also could constitute a "Hub" but are spread across 3 venues in Reynella, Morphett Vale and Christies Beach.
We are now setting a daytime one up at Marden (Eastern Region). This will involve moving a Crossover class from Windsor Gardens and changing one of the existing Transition classes to a Mainstream class. We also plan on adding a new afternoon beginner class as well.
The Northern Region has a cluster of night time classes, but as yet they are not structured into a Hub concept, and that will be our next project once we recover from the effects of Covid-19 on our organisation.
Over the Years there has been a gradual shift in interest from night classes to daytime classes, as the age demographic of our customers gets older as time goes on. For that reason, we do not have a good spread of night classes (especially in the South), but we hope to change that in the future.
We are at a difficult point in time in our organisation. The fallout of the Covid-19 crisis has placed a lot of pressure on the instructors and administrators, with many customers still hesitant to come to class, and many of our classes are struggling to survive for much longer. We hope that we can set up this structure while we are smaller, so we can be ready for the influx of new and returning customers over the next year or so.
The dates for the upcoming socials are:
Sunday 17 th October
Sunday 7 th November
Sunday 12 th December
We had a fabulous turnout for the September social (maybe because the August one was cancelled). There were a large number of beginners trying a social for the first time and they seemed to have a ball, with many indicating that will be back in October. So we are hoping for a large crowd this Sunday.
The socials run from 1.30 pm to 5.00 pm and cost $15. The December Xmas social will be a ticketed social to ensure we do not get too crowded and non covid-19 compliant. The other socials have never got to the numbers where that is a concern. Bring you own nibbles (not to share). Non alcoholic drinks, chips and chocolates are available from the bar as well as the standard free tea and coffee (bring your own cup).
Meals are available from 12 Noon (menu and prices below), and in addition, there are take away frozen meals available for $8 each which are delicious.
Line Dance Overseas Holiday
We are finally seeing the light at the end of the overseas travel ban tunnel. I suspect many are like us and itching to travel again, but a bit scared to plan anything. We are in the process of planning our next holiday offering. It will be a 14 day European River Cruise from Amsterdam to Budapest (or Budapest to Amsterdam) in 2023, between April and November. Our agent is currently putting together a quote, and we would like to gather expressions of interest from people to see how many people to plan for.
It will probably have NO line dance content, so don't think of it as a line dance holiday as such, but a holiday with a group of people with similar fitness and interests. This means that relatives and friends are welcome to be included. The more of us there are, the less "unknown background outsiders" you will have to interact with. Any of our overseas "online customers" are also welcome to join us if you are interested.
We are planning on travelling with Viking Cruises, as they have an excellent reputation and have very strong Covid-19 protocols for testing, catching and dealing with virus issues.
Though Cruising has had a bad wrap in the early days of Covid-19, river cruising has only a small (around 200) number of people, and you will have your own cabin, rather than multiple hotel rooms that you would get on a traditional travel holiday.
The quote will be for twin share, and if you want a single supplement, assume it is double unfortunately. We will have more details next newsletter, but thought it worth giving you a heads up on what is on the horizon.
Just be aware that there is a whole world of travellers thinking the same thing, and many of the cruises are already booked out for 2023, so be ready to react quickly when we have more information and prices. Due to the low numbers of customers on each ship, we may only have one booking opportunity, so latecomers are likely to miss out.
Online Classes - Facebook Only
We continue to stream the Wednesday class 10.00 am - Noon (Adelaide Time). If you cannot get to class for whatever reason, why not join in. You don't have to have a Facebook account, just go to our web site and touch on the link (Blue Thumb button) and it will come up. Remember that the recording stays on the page for at least a week, but the music may be muted by the licensing robots, so join in with it live for best chance of actually being able to dance.