It’s lucky 13 for the Cranbrook Dance Club – now to be known as Cranbrook Dance Connection. For a baker’s dozen of years, the dance curious and dance enthusiasts have had a place to learn and practice the most gracious of the social arts. The club is celebrating its anniversary with a name change to reflect its membership in a family of dance clubs around B.C.
“We want to provide a fun, safe place, where people can have fun with a partner — whether they come alone or with a group, where people have the opportunity to become a pretty good dancer in a variety of different styles,” said Randy Tapp, who started up Cranbrook Dance Club 13 year ago, and provides instruction and organizes special dance events along with partner Kim Bombardier.
The club started off 13 years ago at the Studio Stage Door. It is
now held at Stages School of Dance, 428 6th Avenue South in Cranbrook, every Friday (following the school schedule), from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. There is a $7 drop-in fee.
Tapp said that 13 years ago he was approached by a “handful of women, who wanted to get some dancing going, and who wanted me to teach.
“We started at the Studio Stage Door, with about a dozen people,” he said. “”I could see some progress, and decided to keep it going as a drop-in activity.
“The whole idea is that, on a Friday, a lot of people want somewhere to go, but don’t want to go to a bar. Dance Club provides such a place, for people of all ages.”
Tapp said the age of attendees ranges from 15 to 80, with the average age being between 30 and 50. About 30 people come out every Friday.
“When barbecue season or golf season is on, the numbers dwindle a little bit,” Tapp said. “But we’ve had as many as 60 come out from time to time.”
People come from all over the East Kootenay for workshops, Tapp said. “We’ve even had visitors from Washington State and the Okanagan.
“It’s totally a safe place to go,” Tapp said. “We try to discourage it from becoming a ‘meat market’ kind of place. The focus is on having fun.”
Over time, people will learn a fair amount of dance, he said. “Some people are excellent, and can hold their own on any dance floor. But most people just want to have fun. Probably half the people who come are couples — about half are singles, and half of all these are males.”
Tapp said that the men aren’t necessarily dragged along reluctantly by their wives. Men can have just as keen an interest in learning to dance, and dancing. It used to be that part of being a red-blooded man was the ability to “cut a rug.”
“This thing about men not wanting to dance is a relatively new thing,” Tapp said.
As well as drop-in dancing, the Dance Club offers classes and special events, like Tango Night, or dinner dances.
The Club is in the process of changing its name to indicate its relationship with the Kootenay region.
“We’re changing the name from Cranbrook Dance Club to Cranbrook Dance Connection,” Tapp said. “People think we’re a ‘club,’ but we’re a ‘gateway.’ We’re trying to keep connected with the network of other dance clubs in the area. We’ve made friends in Nelson, in the Okanagan … when we travel to events there, it’s fun to link up with old friends.”
Tapp himself is a qualified dance instructor, a member of the Imperial Society of Dance Teachers and the Canadian Dance Teachers Association.
“I’ve been teaching dance for 30 years, but I like to be a student all the time myself,” he said. “We’re always travelling to learn new things.” He mentioned a trip to Puerto Rico to learn Salsa, and most recently a trip to Argentina for Tango.
Cranbrook Dance Connection is holding a Christmas wind-up party this Friday, Dec. 14, from 7 p.m. to whenever. Tapp said that would be a good time for someone who hasn’t been for a while to get reacquainted, or for anyone who wants to check it out for the first time. After that, the dance season will resume “with gusto” on January 4, 2013.
For more information, or to keep up to date on dancing life, check out Cranbrook Dance Connection on Facebook. For more information on Cranbrook Dance Connection email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 250-426-1142.