JOHN SANDHAM 


 Summer 1986 was my first introduction to Real live Country music ( not really a fan before this ) school holidays me Janette & 4 kids on our way to Norfolk towing a caravan hoping to spend a couple of Sunny weeks in the UK sunshine! well it started to rain on the journey down & it was pouring down so we quickly changed our plan of parking in the middle of a farmers field with our portable loo & opted to pay the extra & stay on a posh site at Hopton on Sea with lots of amenities a club house with Bar & dance floor & live country music every night for the next two weeks well lots of people were dressed western & at first my reaction was "look at these idiots" by the end of the first week I was one of them I fell head over heals for the music & the friendly westerners most of the dancing was Jive & ballroom with a hoe down or ten...then I spotted 2 people dancing side by side doing the same little routine over & over again & later the same couple were partner dancing around the floor to a tune called cotton eyed Joe! 

I was intrigued &. later went over to chat with the couple it turned out they were doing this brand new style of dance called " Western Dance " a mix of line & Partner dancing done to Country music they had learned it the week before at Pontins Hemsby with an American couple called Dick Matias & Geneva Owsley from Washington & I believe they were the very first to introduce it into the Uk way back then in 1985/6 I contacted Pontins to try & find out more of this couple & was put in touch with Bob Chapel country festival organizer for Pontins Bob told me ITS GONNA BE BIG & had engaged Dick & Geneva to teach at all the pontins camps Janette & myself returned to Lancaster & went looking for a country western club we found a club called morcambe raiders & promptly joined ( no line dancing here ) jive & hoe downs all night long no one had heard of western dancing! took us a month or two to discover the "Riverside" at Banks near Southport here they were doing a few line dances & as many partner dances that they learned at Pontins Southport with a guy called " Moonshine" ( the very first qualified D&G teacher in the North of England )

Moonshine & wife Anne took Janette & myself under there wing & over the next few months taught us everything they knew! we enrolled onto the D&G school of dance & did our teacher training & qualified at hemsby along with lissie clark & Norma Bill Morisson in 1988 that same year we were asked by Dick & Geneva to teach dancing at Pontins St Marys Bay in Devon country festivals all around the country .

1988 & western dance taking of now but lots of c/w clubs not allowing dancing in the first live spot & only low background music inbetween we decided to start our own club just for western dancing found a local church hall & called it Western Express this was in Ingol Preston soon had 12 eager members all couples & teaching Line & Partner to them all 12 soon turned into 25 & we had to move the the much larger RAOB club at Leyand lancs ( the club still exists 2016 ) & is now at BAC club in Preston & run by a committee of Dancers ! Very soon it seemed everyone wanted to learn to western dance but not enough teachers so NBWDA was formed by Janette & myself to promote Western dance & provide training for buding instructors ( North British Western Dance Association ) this was i huge success with many people from all over Britain wanting to train so after 6 months or so & in 1989 we dropped the North & became British Western Dance Association or Better Known as BWDA over 1000 Instructors ( from all over the world) trained with BWDA 1990 & Line Dancing is Strarting to Take over now as lots of sin gle people find they can dance without a partner the word Western Dance was now becoming the more Modern term American Line Dancing ! existing dance floors were getting to small 25 turned into 45 & soon it was over 100 at most clubs Line Dancing was about to become Britains Favorite pastime .

The 90s its the golden age of line dancing classes are booming all over the Uk Dick & Geneva are running the British western Dance Championships at Barton Hall Torbay each year we did really well & were placed in the top 3 in 1990/91/92
Tempted was written by Jan & me in 92 first introduced in Pontins prestatyn wales my classes were every night of the week & often toped 250 with a regular 500 at the ritz in Brighouse Yorkshire festival were taking a back seat now as we had our own club Oasis & had teacher training workshops most weekends Line dancing was Big Biusness! & took over my Life Janette on the other hand was lossing interest & we were drifting apart our partner dancing had fallen by the wayside & i was consentrating on Line Dance Commitment was created by myself in 1995 & refleckted the way i was feeling at the time! my health was not very good & a heart bypass opp took me a long time to get over! i was thinking its time to Retire & try & save my Marrage !

so i farmed out the Oasis & the BWDA we took off for Gran Caneria for 6 months leaving the Boys Brian & Michael to run the clubs & Oasis then came a 3 year stint teaching aroud the Med for Airtours but nothing worked & our marrage was getting worse...ater a couple more years back in the Uk it was over & i took a new Partner over to Spain & have been having a lovley life still teaching in a small but enjoyeble way lots of old friends drop in to see me & i can say ive see it all change over the past 30 years from the 80s with a couple of dozen line dances & the same of partner dances all done to country music & a good mix of both men & ladies....the Boom of the 90s...were everyone was falling overthemselves to get into line dance & lots of money being made....to the present day were we have 100s of new dances comming out each week & mostly ladies doing the the line dancing to many types of music yep its changed ! ...long may it last my advise would be " dont forget the Roots & look after your Beginners they are the future of line dance ! 

cheers everyone John


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