Rachel Harding, our Speaker kept us fascinated with her Rhinestones and Sequins, Memoirs of A Competitive Ballroom Dancer. Her mother always taught her that self praise is no praise at all and Rachel has tried to adopt this motto throughout her dancing career.Starting at a social evening in their local village where Rachel danced quite happily whilst her husband sat in the corner, refusing to take to the floor. One very persuasive lady however would not leave him alone and he was finally dragged on to the dance floor. At the end of the evening, his face was matching the colour of his tie – bright red.
On the journey home he vowed never again to be so humiliated and announced he was to learn to dance . Not quite believing what she was hearing, Rachel enrolled at their local dance school where they began with the traditional 1 2 3,1 2 3, which they practised over and over again, with the furniture pushed out of the way, at home.This was followed by the next lessons, 4 5 6, 4 5 6, again practised over and over again. Suddenly their teacher told them she felt they were ready for bigger and better things. Rachel and her partner ( as her husband was now known) moved to an Advanced Class where, mesmerised, they were able to pick out some of the steps.Subsequently they were ready for a medal class.
Ordinary shoes are no good at all for competitive dancing, special shoes were purchased and Rachel began to make her dance dresses, her other love in life is sewing.Her partner was to wear a matching waistcoat to her dress, again her needle came in useful.
Progressing through the various stages, dresses became more elaborate and her partner had his dance jacket especially tailor made.
Rachel and her partner excelled at Latin dancing but the ballroom techniques were more difficult.This latter problem was solved when they were introduced to Peter Elliott, an ex World Champion. He gave lessons at Newbury, so much closer to home than London.Under his tutorage everything improved and they went from strength in ballroom dancing.
An extra section in the ballroom dancing competition at Gloucester was for Lady Elegant in which the dress, charisma and personality is judged as well as the dancing. Rachel, still making her own dresses, and what wonderful dresses they were, won right through to a 5th stage but, as they were by now dancing all over the world, this competition clashed with a dancing date in Germany which was judged to be more beneficial.
The Latin dancing had stagnated but its revival was brought about by tutoring by Tony Goodyear of Bath, also an ex World Champion. Meeting many famous people, amongst them Len Goodman who remarked on their charisma and confidence.The basic principles for both techniques are similar.
During the 14 years of active competitive dancing, Rachel and her husband ran their own business, managed a large house and garden and raised two children, who incidentally took no interest in dance but scoffed at their parents “prancing about”.
Rachel brought one of her beautiful dresses for us to examine and admire, plus lots of photographs of their dancing career.
Answering questions which were lively and varied, Rachel said her favourite Latin dances were Jive and Rumba and ballroom, the Foxtrot.
Frances thanked Rachel, saying how much she envied her life of dance, Frances would love to do the same but had married a non dancer.
A very successful trip was made to Thatchers Cider Factory followed by a delicious lunch at the adjoining Railway Inn.Angela was thanked for her organisation of this trip.
A thankyou letter was received from Anthea for flowers and card received following her recent operation, we were pleased Anthea was able to attend the meeting. Pat Maddaford presented the Financial Statement showing a healthy balance.
Dates to Remember.
November 10 Drama Rehearsal at Mary Burt’s 4p m November 21 Craft Club at the Hall, 9.30 -12.
November 22 Scrabble at Julie Gordon’s 6.45p m December 4 Group Christmas Concert at Westonzoyland December 6 Christmas Meal Castlebrook Inn 7 for 7.30p m December 13 Christmas Party at Meadway Hall, Speaker, Kay Wych, Maid at Glastonbury Abbey.Mince pies, tea and coffee, Secret Santa, wrapped gifts to the value of £5.Raffle for two luxury hampers.
The competition for an evening bag was won by Christina Napper with Pat Maddaford and Angela Castle second and third. The Flower of the Month, winner Pat Maddaford with begonias.