Wednesday, 28 September 2016 15:15

Trip to Manitou Beach adds to Lyric event anticipation

Written by  Joey Donnelly
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A recent Saskatchewan getaway to Manitou Beach reminded me why it’s important to dance like there’s nobody watching.

When we arrived to the resort village, we went directly to Danceland for the biannual Polkafest.
Built in 1928, owner Arnold Strueby believes Danceland is the largest surviving permanent dance floor left in Canada.
The original maple dance floor is also renowned for its floating ability, attributed to the horse tail hair underneath. Duke Ellington, Elvis Presley, Glenn Miller and Tommy Dorsay have all stopped by for concerts and dances.
Seated at our table was an elegantly-dressed farmer named Alice. With a slight French accent, she told us she’d been coming to Polkafest for 20 years and was now almost 80.
“I could be sitting at home watching the wall,” she told us. “But, I love to dance!”
Alice nearly spun me off my feet on that super moon night at Danceland and her insistence to never sit still inspires me to attend more upcoming events at the Lyric Theatre.
One of the earliest records of dancing at the Lyric was an advertisement from 1918 offering five nights of lessons for adults and three Saturday afternoon classes for children at the Lyric Hall.
“Learn to dance now! Mr. Leon B. Helman, director of the Nordeau Dancing Academies in Canada, and one of Canada’s foremost dancing misters, has arrived in Swift Current to instruct a limited number of pupils in the art of dancing,” the ad reads.
The advertisement included a profile image of the handsome dancer with a high white collar who promised to teach “all the latest ballroom dances.”
For decades, the basement of the Lyric was known as the Lyric Hall. The ornate tin ceiling and pressed tin walls must have impressed the pioneers at the time.
Along with dances at the Lyric Hall, basketball games were held there, church services and trade shows.
During one January night in 1923, the guests in the Lyric basement undoubtedly stayed warm enjoying A Night Wi’ Robbie Burns.
The newspaper ad for the event promised, “A big time for everybody. One glorious night of song and dance. Everybody welcome.” Scotty Wallace’s Orchestra was set to start at 9 o’clock, scotch and haggis at midnight, followed by more dancing.
Looking at the Lyric’s upcoming calendar, we can look forward to even more dancing.
Youth Talent night is this Friday. Then on Saturday, Oct. 1, Blenders presents The Abrams. Their music is a combination of bluegrass, country, and folk-rock with story-telling lyrics that has been called “newgrass.”
Eliza Doyle is having a CD release party on Tuesday, Oct. 11. Also, be sure to check out the next Lyric Open Stage on Thursday, Oct. 13 hosted that evening by Corbin Switzer. On Oct. 22, Blenders returns with the Terra Lightfoot Band to deliver slow-burning soul ballads and hard-charging rock numbers.
Joey Donnelly is a journalist, folklorist and Lyric board member.

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