There comes a time in every person’s life when they must face their fears: for some it could be swimming with sharks or maybe attending a Bombers game without wearing a bag covering their face.
For me, it’s dancing.
So it was with a great deal of trepidation, and potential embarrassment, that I recently bunny-hopped my way to a Westview Dance Club lesson.
The St. James-based non-profit couples’ dance club is the oldest of-its-kind in Winnipeg and formed in 1970 by four couples, including Vic and Betty Sobkowich.
That group attracted more people to the club over the years to the point at which there are currently 60 regular member couples and 22 associate members of all ages.
When I showed up for the lesson I was greeted by Brian and Joan Armstrong, the current co-presidents, and instructor Monique Perrault (Anthony Funari is the other instructor).
This particular night, Perrault was teaching the class foxtrot patterns and the corte to incorporate into their routines.
Realistically it would take months for me to learn how to corte, which is a basic type of lunge. The couples, however, were able to catch on quick after a couple of examples, and some good-natured ribbing, from Perrault.
Because it’s a non-competitive club, the pressure to nail the steps is only as intense as you want it to be. There are different levels of dance classes to match a couple’s own experience so no one is left out.
Brian says that dance lessons are only part of what WDC is about. Included in membership are lessons and practices and the option of purchasing tickets to attend five social dances and three dinner dances, including a New Year’s Eve dinner dance.
"We are here as a social, fun group," says Brian. "There have been long-lasting relationships formed as a part of this club."
One of those enduring relationships is with the St. James School Division where the WDC’s lessons and practices are held in division gymnasiums.
In return, the WDC annually gives a $200 scholarship to a student in the SJSD for excellence in the area of musical performing arts.
As the class wound down, I found myself thinking that my fear of dancing isn’t as bad as I thought and that next time I might even get up and give it a try!
Trevor Suffield is a community correspondent for St. James