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Staying in Step with the Fort McMurray Social Dance Club

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Box steps and turns. Promenades and rock steps. Arm slides and fifth-position breaks. These moves are only a small handful of what you’ll see on the dance floor at one of the Fort McMurray Social Dance Club’s events. Every month, the dance club invites people to dust off their dance shoes and come out for a fun night of dancing in a social atmosphere.

Although there is some debate as to the official year of its inception, the Fort McMurray Social Dance Club (FMSDC) has been providing a place for people to dance socially since the early 1990s. Ballroom dance lessons were being offered at Keyano College, and several people from the classes wanted a place to use the skills they had been taught. Clif Wilde, current FMSDC president, was one of those people: “The founding members who organized the club, launched early promotions, and set the foundations for what the club is now, were myself, Guy and Darlene Taylor, Alex and Cheryl Coulthardt, Kim Moore, and Steve Moore (no relation)” says Wilde. “My wife, Barb Wilde, also helped occasionally,” Wilde says he enjoys having a place where he can get together with other people who like to dance; especially ballroom and latin dances.

Over the years, the FMSDC has evolved to include a beginner lesson in a featured style before each of its dances, and for the past two years has been offering one-day dance workshops every two to three months. All the events are promoted as beginner-friendly, and when they are posted on social media, the line “no partner or experience needed” is included to encourage those who may hesitate to come alone or think they have two left feet to come enjoy the fun.

A wide variety of styles is offered at each dance, with some being added or removed to suit the tastes of the dancers. One can always expect to find waltzes, fox trots, cha-chas, rumbas, and East Coast swing on the playlist. Other styles that have been or are currently being featured are samba, mambo, polka, salsa, tango, and Viennese waltz. Country two-step has become especially popular, and was recently featured in one of the FMSDC’s dance workshops and as a pre-dance lesson.

In a community where adults can sometimes feel at a loss for social activities, the FMSDC is a welcomed change of pace. Social media has brought it to more people’s attention, and the number of attendees at the monthly events has increased as people look to try something new. Scott Berry started coming to the dances in September of last year and says he enjoys them because they are fun and a great way to unwind after a week at work. “I was tired of sitting in front of a computer all the time and decided to do something fun by meeting new people and learning to dance,” says Berry. “Best decision I’ve made in years.”

One of the highlights of the year for the FMSDC is its annual gala, “Puttin’ on the Ritz”, a formal evening with a dinner, dance performances, silent auction, and social dancing. Previous galas have sometimes featured themes such as “Old Hollywood” and “Ocean Cruise”. This year’s “Puttin’ on the Ritz” on June 3, 2017, is expected to be extra special since it will be the 25th year of the gala event. The theme will be “Dancing in the Moonlight”, and the planning committee is already working hard to make it a truly memorable evening.

So, the next time you’re looking for something new to do in Fort McMurray, check out the Fort McMurray Social Dance Club. Whether you have rhythm in your feet or two left feet, you’re guaranteed to leave their events with a bounce in your step. All event details are posted on their Facebook page, and you can also reach out to them at See you on the dance floor!