• Kelly Harding-Read

One Man's Dream

Southport, Pontins Ainsdale Beach, I was 8 years old, we had slept in a chalet the night before. I had been to the fair ground, played football on the beach and play crazy golf which I know my mum had cheated at.

There was a huge dancefloor. The band had stopped playing, the couple that were going to do a demonstration had been announced.

My mum and dad were the best dancers in the whole world as far as I was concerned, I would clap and cheer with the rest of the crowd every time mum and dad graced the dancefloor. I would tell everyone around me “that’s my mum and dad that is!”

I was taken to dance lessons when I was about 4 years old, I didn’t like It much, but if I behaved, listened and tried my best I would get my threepence piece for sweets and was allow to go to the Saturday matinee to go and watch the Lone Ranger and the Three Stooges. After about 3 years I got fed up of being in a hall with just me and what seemed like 100 girlies. I was missing playing football with my mates but mum and dad would keep taking me anyway.

I couldn’t understand why we were here at Southport as Dad had hurt his leg and was still limping so it was obvious that they weren’t going to dance.

The whole place went quiet; you could hear a pin drop. A piano started playing a song called The Way You Look Tonight, and I remember this as if it was yesterday my dad said to me “just watch this.” A couple started gliding across the huge dance floor, I swear their feet weren’t touching the floor and suddenly the dance floor didn’t seem so huge anymore, they seemed to fill every inch of it with every movement dancing this beautiful Foxtrot. As the whole band started filling in after the piano and the volume increased so did the crowd. Every note was danced to. They were the world champions Bill and Bobbie Irvine. Apparently, my mouth was wide open all the way through that Foxtrot. I was mesmerised, this was dancing at a whole new level.

Now I wanted to dance, instead of dancing to please someone else, I wanted to dance like that!

I got my big sister to take me back to dance lessons and I was transported into a whole new world. I wanted it, I wanted to dance and feel the music like Bill and Bobbie Irvine did that night. I never looked back, it felt different. I was competing and enjoying every minute on the dancefloor.

In my late teens I remember being brought down to earth with a bump, Bob Dale was my teacher at the time and also the trainer of the Latin Formation Team. A young man called Donnie Burns had walked into the studio and was to dance with a local girl called Gaynor Fairweather. Bob had choreographed a Paso Doble with some new moves and I wanted the part of the routine that Donnie and Gaynor were practicing. All of us couldn’t understand why he was giving these two different moves than us! They went on to become the 14 time World Professional Latin Dance Champions. He knew something that obviously we couldn’t see.

I wanted to teach, I wanted to learn how he knew all these things that hadn't happened yet but were going to happen. The buzz that he must have got through giving absolute beginners the confidence to get around the dancefloor, to taking the couple that wanted more to the level that they thought that they were always going to do their best to win on a competition dancefloor.

In between comps I would go and help assisting at dance schools and studied hard for my exams. I had got to the level that I was going to get to with my partner and was ready to teach, which was the end to my competition days.

Teaching is so rewarding at all levels and I am still learning to teach every day. The day that I think I know it all is the day I will stop teaching, which is never. I am just like all my students, always learning, always trying to perfect.

It feels like you are part of one big family when you teach, from the people that come in to learn to dance for a cruise, a holiday, a wedding or just because it’s time to! The people that say “give me more, give me more”, the little ones that I watch grow into young ladies and gentleman, the older ones that realise it’s the best hobby a couple can do together.

People of all ages making new friends and opening up their social lives, all this is what I live and breathe for. That and the music, “oh the music” what would life be without it, and what would life be if you weren’t surrounded by beautiful friendship.

P.s I am still trying to perfect my Slow Foxtrot.

Bob Gibson.

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