Combining exercise and socialising, linedancing is an activity suitable for all ages and for people from all walks of life. Katie Frost from the Armidale Honky Tonk Linedancers explains that the club members also work tirelessly to raise funds for charity …
Hi Katie. How did you become associated with the Armidale Honky Tonk Linedancers?
My interest in linedancing started when I was young; however, I didn’t attend my first class until the late ‘90s. Unfortunately, that didn’t last long – due to family commitments. It was about 10 years ago I decided it was time to pull the boots back on and have another go at classes, so off I went to class … and well, the rest is history!
I haven’t looked back, attending class twice a week and going to any and every dance event that I could find in our area and in fact, Australia/overseas-wide. Yes, I even attend yearly linedancing balls and cruises!
Our teacher, Cheryl, asked me if I’d be interested in teaching while she was away; of course, I said I’d give it a go to help out, not realising this would lead into me becoming the full-time dance teacher. Oh, what a culture shock the first class I ever taught was! I have so much appreciation for that dance teacher who is standing in front calling steps and leading the way to every single dance – it’s hard work! I now teach classes on a weekly basis and love sharing my love of dance with everyone.
What can you tell us about the history of the club?
The club is a not-for-profit organisation and has been running for approximately 25 years. When first established, a teacher from Tamworth travelled up to Armidale every week to teach classes at the RSL Club. Cheryl Ogilvie commenced teaching in 1998 and only a couple of years ago handed the reins over to me to take on the teaching full-time; now she fills in for me when I’m away.
The club consists of a committee and volunteers, and everyone involved works tirelessly to keep it running and helps me out to make our classes and social events fun and successful. We are fortunate enough to have some ladies still dancing with us from when the club formed all those years ago.
The Honky Tonk Linedancers is a very sociable club, from what I can gather! Where/how often do you meet?
Yes, definitely social! We currently have two classes per week that commence at 6pm, Mondays in Armidale – Legacy Hall and Tuesdays in Uralla – Uniting Church Hall. The cost is $6 per person/class.
Most months a weekend social is held, where we meet and social dance and enjoy lunch/afternoon tea together. These events are the ones where we usually raise money and donate funds to selected charities of choice.
We travel regularly to attend dance events held in our neighbouring towns: Uralla, Tamworth, Guyra, Curlewis, and surrounds, and I encourage all our dancers to attend.
What skill level do the Honky Tonks cater for – are beginners welcome?
Everyone is welcome – young and old, men and female. No skill required, only a smile and good sense of humour! Beginners are definitely welcome; in fact, we are commencing beginners’ classes in Armidale and Uralla from Monday 29th April for approx. 12 weeks. This will hopefully give beginners enough confidence to feel comfortable and transition to some harder level dances and continue coming to class on a weekly basis.
Linedancing is very easy to learn, mainly because the steps are straightforward, and you do not have to coordinate your movements with a partner. Linedances also involve repeating series of steps – so if you get lost, you can easily catch up with the rest of the class.
Your club has raised a lot of money over the years for various charities. Why is it important to you all to do this?
Our club supports a lot of charities, and donations have ranged from small to big. Linedancers are very generous people, and right around Australia you will find this is similar to other dance clubs.
I’m sure we all have our own reasons for our involvement and raising money for charities. The club likes to support charities that are close to the members’ hearts; it could be that the charity has supported one of the members, or their families, or even just people we know in the community, and if we can help those charities by simply dancing to raise monies – our job is done!
Mrs Enid Rutledge, the late mother of one of our dancers, Wendy, was involved with the New England Wigs and Headwear Library, and we decided that it would be our charity of choice for our 2018 fundraiser, and we were able to recently donate $1,000 (see photo above).
Other charities have included: Armidale Bowlo “Kids for Cancer”, Ronald McDonald House Tamworth, Cancer Council, Breast Cancer, Heart Foundation, Asthma Foundation, Beyond Blue, Relay for Life, just to name a few.
What’s the dress code for your social outings?
You can pretty much wear whatever you like, as long as you are comfortable and your footwear lets you dance all day long. Most events we attend may have a “theme” to follow e.g. country, or colour.
Why would you encourage locals to come along and give linedancing a try?
I’d encourage anyone to give it a go. It’s a great exercise and social activity, even if dancing is not really your thing. I have met the most amazing people in the linedancing industry whom I now call my very close friends. For those of you already linedancing, know that you’re doing one of the best activities you can for total body wellness, and it’s great for the mind as well. Dancing is a unique form of exercise, because it provides the heart-healthy benefits of an aerobic exercise, while also allowing you to engage in a social activity.
What upcoming events are planned?
Our weekly classes run every week in Armidale and Uralla, except public holidays. I’m still working on details for our major fundraiser for this year, so stayed tuned, but be sure to check out our Facebook page for our upcoming events.
Where can we find out more informations?
Katie Frost – mobile 0429 783 402.
Armidale Honky Tonks Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/groups/517721098291282/?ref=group_header
Interview: Jo Robinson.