“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass…It’s about learning to dance in the rain.” – Vivian Greene
“Life is the dancer and you are the dance.” – Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose
“Every day brings a chance for you to draw in a breath, kick off your shoes, and dance.”- Oprah Winfrey
The Pacific Ballroom Dance Story:
Pacific Ballroom Dance in Auburn began in 1994 when PBD’s founders (talented ballroom dancers), chaperoned a teen dance at a local church. No doubt seeing a large number of boys and girls glued to opposite walls or gathered in small groups, they figured there was a need for students to gain confidence, social and interpersonal skills in a structured, non-threatening social environment. Shortly thereafter an after-school ballroom dancing club formed, and in 2003 PBD became a 501(c)3 non-profit with a mission “to build character in youth by providing a positive ballroom dance experience.” What started as a small club of a dozen students over 20 years ago has become a thriving nonprofit dance education studio based in Auburn, Washington.
Here are Junior High students Mercedes Mecham and Landon Heal performing a remarkedly fluid Cha Cha.
When I was a child, I attended Stanley Elementary School in Tacoma. I was in a class combining both fourth graders and fifth graders. I was thrilled when we learned square dancing and I got to dance with a fifth-grade girl I liked. As a teenager I enjoyed rock and roll and watched the dancing on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand on TV. In my first year of college, I signed up for a dance class where I learned the basics of the waltz and other classic dances from the Horra to the polka and others in-between. At the end of my second year of college I attended the last dance of the year in May and asked a really cute girl to dance. Peggy was an excellent dancer. We went to concerts and a number of dances that summer and were married by the end of November.
When Peg was in ninth and tenth grade at St Leo’s High School, half of the PT requirement was Ballroom Dancing. We would go up to the Sorority Hall, count off as one or two, and commence with dancing. We learned the waltz, polka, foxtrot, Cha Cha, Schottische, rhumba, Horra and several others. Miss Memmers, a former Arthur Murray instructor, was quite a character. She always showed up in a nice plaid straight skirt, a nice sweater, with a hanky held by her watch, all covered by an old fur jacket and a scarf if it was cold.
In October of her Junior year, the family left to join Dad who was transferred to Bitburg AFB in the Rheinlander Palatinate Pflaz or state. There were two parents and six kids, soon joined by the last, Ann Catherine in a small three-bedroom apartment. Kate slept in the living room in a roll around basket on wheels.
We were introduced to a very nice German girl our age, Helga. She arranged for us to go Fasching (the German Mardi Gras) with her older brother Peter. We had a great time. We also went to the Fasching party in the village hall. Peg was so glad she had had those lessons! She could dance with all the older farmers. It was a great boon.
Our first German home was in an upstairs apartment over and older couple, Mama and Papa Weber, a homemaker and a farmer. Out the kitchen window you could see the honey pile and the barn. Papa Weber soon retired and our kitchen smelled so much better in the summer time!
When Peg and I had our TV studio in downtown Tacoma, we would throw a party the Saturday after Thanksgiving. We would hire bands and encourage dancing. Our youngest son, asked his girlfriend to get married after one of these dances. She said yes. She was attending Pacific Lutheran University along with her sister. They were both from Southern California. Their parents saw the writing on the wall and moved up to the Pacific Northwest.
We’ve never lost our love of dancing, so when our friend Doctor Mary Hogeshirer-Scher, invited us to join her at a trivia night fundraiser for Pacific Ballroom Dance, we jumped at the chance. We knew Doctor Mary from the Rotary Club of Tacoma #8 which sponsored a program to help Pierce County people who could not afford medical treatment. Our friend Jan Runbeck proposed a program what helped save the lives of almost everyone who came in for assistance. Jan taught nursing at the University of Washington-Tacoma. The Clinic needed to have a doctor in charge of the program and Dr. Mary volunteered. When Obama care finally came about, we were rewarded with a segment on a TV broadcast of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart featuring a tongue-in-cheek Jan Runbeck who explained the program. A big “thank you” for the Rotary Club of Tacoma #8 and the hardworking volunteers.
We lost Dr. Mary to Doctors without Borders for a while, and were happy when she returned from Africa wanting to learn ballroom dancing. Over dinner one night Dr. Mary invited our little support group to attend their Trivia Night fundraiser in Auburn. The event sounded a lot like one we had attended several years ago, so we thought “why not . . . sounds like fun.” It was. Our ten-person group had a great evening; we came in third . . . and it was a tough crowd.
There were nine tables of attendees. The food was excellent. The chicken was so good in could have almost passed for Peggy’s fried chicken. The Banana’s Foster was excellent as well. Each table bid on dessert. There were some fabulous looking cakes, but when the organization members found out that Peggy couldn’t eat chocolate, they made sure that our table got a fantastic blueberry-strawberry homemade pie.
We didn’t do as well as we hoped on the trivia contest, but the entertainment was absolutely fantastic. Young students from junior high to high school were featured. They danced on the wooden floor which gleamed with golden hardwood. The boy and girl from junior high really caught our attention. In regular clothes, you would just think, “cute kids,” but in costume, wow. They captured the eyes and hearts of everyone at the fundraiser. They deserved a standing ovation. The junior high dancers Mercedes Mecham and Landon Heal deserved every bit of applause that they received!
The fundraiser did extremely well and set a new record for the event of over $87,000 dollars. We didn’t do as well on the trivia as we had hoped, but we had a great time. We recommend the event to anyone who loves dancing and trivia. We can hardly wait for next year.
For more information about the dancing, please (253) 939-6524 or visit their website: pacificballroom.org