I was not sure whether the Country and Western Dance in Camber Village Hall, on Saturday November 19, would be for me. However, ready for a new experience, I decked myself out in jeans and boots, ready to fit in.
It was an interesting learning experience. I talked first to Pete Jones and his daughter Debbie, who are the main organisers. He told me that they have been running these evenings for several years now and prior to that, his sister had run them for at least 20 years. They tried to make the atmosphere as authentic as possible with US flags around the walls.
There is some concern, however, about how long the event could continue, with a new Village Hall committee threatening an increase in charges and changes to some of next year’s bookings. This could make the event financially non-viable, as very little profit is generated from the evening and this is, in any case, usually ploughed back. Pete and Debbie felt that the committee was trying to drive them out and this feeling was reinforced by the fact that the committee had failed to put on the heating for the evening, despite the bad weather conditions.
A big lesson I learned while I was preparing myself for a bit of line dancing (I did some in the US when living there) was that country and western is normal couple dancing (waltz, foxtrot) but much slower and to specific music, while line dancing is a choreographed dance, with repeated sequences, in which a group of people dance in one or more lines or rows without any physical contact. However, I was able to oblige and not stumble over my dance partner’s feet. It was a lively crowd of a certain age.
I sat down at one of the tables next to one couple and started talking to a lady called Margaret. She is pictured here on the dance floor. (second left). I was humbled by her story, which she freely told me, of losing her “sweetheart” (husband) when he was only in his 50’s and because she could never replace him, she never married again. She is probably in her 80’s now. She had battled cancer, is still suffering with the aftermath, has leg problems and had no money after her husband’s death. Yet she managed, got a job, paid all her debts and travelled the world, which she had not done before. And here she was with a male friend of her late husband, dancing away and laughing. A lovely person.
Hopefully, the Village Hall committee will not cause this club to close down, as I could see people really enjoying the evening. Pete said that sometimes they get 80 people, from all over the area.
Photos: Heidi Foster