Tamworth, Australia
January, 2000


and we thought California had scenery! Imagine everything you love about our home state and then take away the traffic, the smog, and 99% of the peoples ...and Voilą ...you be in Australia.

Tamworth is not unlike our typical one McDonald's size town ...but the locals have to pitch in and help host some of the 1000 or so line dancers that come far and wide to join the 45,000 or so who attend the Annual Tamworth Music Festival. The West Tamworth League Club (Wests) puts on a program to include all the famous Australian country western singers, a guitar showcase, and a songwriters showcase. Jo Dee Messina was the American headliner at Wests ...whose family dining, lounge, and poker machine facilities expand to include huge air conditioned tents to hold all the fans who want to see their favorite Aussie stars perform during this week long party.

The Streets of Downtown Tamworth host the not so famous singers ...and the wannabees ...these buskers performing in front of every other downtown shop entertain the visitors and the dancers who wonder in from the linedance venues scattered throughout the town. Parking at all the linedance venues is a breeze once you master right side steering and 'rear to kerb' parking ...traditional to Australian small towns.

The attendance at the Workshops I attended were less than 2 dozen and not more than 3 dozen dancers and the 5 evening social dances never had more then 200 dancers on the dance floor.

The Locomotive Hotel (The Loco) ...hosted by Warren and Jean O'Leary and Ian StLeon and Lorraine Shelton. The Hotel also had guest bands playing to crowds in the open air bar opposite the line dance venue. I took lessons with guest instructors Terry Hogan and Charlotte Skeeters and enjoyed open dancin' with DJ Ian StLeon ...who also taught at this venue. To compare ...think about the now demolished Horseshoe Club with a larger dance floor.

The Tamworth Tennis Club ...hosted by Ray and Lorraine StLeon with DJ Kelvin Dale. I took lessons here with Terry and Charlotte and Martin Ritchie from Birminham, England. All the 20ish year old competition dancers and their parents and all the OZ kids were here most every evening to boot scoot ...the first evening I spent dancing here ...Unbelievable (Ian StLeon), Sunset Stampede (Ian StLeon) and Dangerous (John Robinson) were played just prior to the closing hour ...1 AM ...the dance floor was crowded! During a break in the evening ...Hedy McAdams demo'd her next days workshop dance for the crowd and on Friday night Justine Shuttleworth (with a little help from Leonie and Simon) demo'd her newest waltz to be taught in a Saturday afternoon workshop. The Tennis Club was the place where Simon Ward taught his new Larger Than Life in two different 90+ workshops ...which explains why just 2 dozen of us danced it with him the first night and by Friday night ...the floor was jam packed! To compare ...no comparison!

Bootscooting Corral (Flag Inn) hosted by Gordon Elliott was to capacity as I peeked in to Take A Look during one of his 2 hour afternoon workshops. The door keepers and DJ Di confirm that Gordon's students keep the Flag Inn wooden dance floor at high energy capacity ...morning, noon and night! I did notice that a stack of Michael Barr's A Waltz In Time step description sheets was among those included on the table at this Wednesday afternoon workshop. To compare ...no comparison!

St. Patrick's Hall is hosted by Peter Heath and his assistent Carol. I caught Charlotte Skeeters, John Robinson, Terry Hogan, Hillbilly Rick, Mark Simpkin, Thomas O'Dwyer and Tracie Lee in workshops here. This wooden floor was capacity each evening ...the mixture of oldie and classics play list is set, but requests are honored ...John Robinson was here dancin' tonight and I requested Power Surge (Stephen Sunter) ...to awesome to dance it next to MS. Austrailan 2000 Ambassador Roxanne Smith! To compare ...think St. Tim's most normal 1998 Saturday nights.

Calrossy Auditorium is just the normal competition heats (solos, duos, teams, etc) and couple workshops by day and 9 PM - Midnight evening socials hosted by Mark Simpkin, Tracie Lee, Noel Bradey and Michael Vera-Lobos and guests.

I really loved the idea of parent dancin' with child category ...Margaret Mary and Roxy were spectacular together! Brad and Leonie and Justine and Terry and Simon and Kurt ...you know all the famous dancers we know ...danced mulitple times with multiple partners and in teams ...but the most interesting thing ...Justine and Simon create the choreography not only for themselves but for their teammates ...in fact most of the OZ Kids are well known for their choreography talents. (I would place 90% of their creations that I saw being done on the Tamworth dance floors into the intermediate/advanced dance levels.)

I had to stand to see the competition heats since seating was at ground level in this auditorium ... I have to see boots or I get bored. I enjoyed the fact that the awards were given out after the finish of each section I observed ...that sure makes the final awards ceremonies a lot shorter! I saw the word championships all over the programs, but this word does not have the same meaning to us here in the States ...the actual Australian Championship Event (ACE) will be held at the National Capital Bootscoot IV ...Friday 21st - Sunday 23rd July 2000.

My most memorable moment ...I don't know what the dance was ...but Terry and Noel and Mark were line dancin' together up on the Calrossy stage ...friends just enjoyin' the moment in music ...my guess is that Mark was probably not the choreographer of the dance ...but then again I could be wrong ...since Mr. Terry had to have help from his students to help him remember his Border Crossing! Many Australian choreographers and competition dancers were here at Calrossy sometime during the evening dances and just like here in California ...when a choreographer is present ...we request their dances. Rosalie McKay is one choreographer that I am not familar with ...but every dance I saw that I thought looked interesting and was being enjoyed by a packed floor ...her name was attached to the dance!

My thanks to Joe MacManamon who obtained my accommodations in Tamworth with Lorelle and Rob and who was kind enough to arrange for me to have a VIP pass to this Tamworth Line Dance Festival.



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