Deadline for discount tickets Friday
There has been a community-wide benefit to Ed Donkers' 22 years of teaching ballroom
dance in Elgin County. And it's not the health benefits enjoyed by the hundreds
of couples who took part in classes Donkers first started teaching in 1995. It's
not the hilarity created by Donkers' unconventional teaching style.
It's not the spin-off benefits to events such as Dancing with the Stars at the Station,
which draw on Donkers' students as volunteer instructors and audience.
Nor is it that the community is invited to a dinner-dance to mark Donkers retirement
April 8 at Saxonia in Aylmer.
The biggest reward to the community may be the more than $66,000 in donations the
Elgin Ballroom Dance Club -- of which Donkers is the founding instructor -- has
made to community groups since the club was founded as a millennial project in 2000.
"Ed has a gift for getting people, especially guys, started in ballroom dance,"
said club president Krista Burge. As a result, classes with Donkers, who also runs
a dairy goat operation near Frome, are popular, with as many as 30 couples in the
beginner class. Dues amount to $5 a person per week, said Burge. But because enrolment
is so high, the club has surplus funds after it pays expenses, which it donates
to community projects and groups that support children and youth. Christmas Care
and the Talbot Teen Centre have been the most recent recipients of the club's surplus.
Donkers began teaching dance at the Arthur Murray studio in London in 1995. He organized
classes at the Dutton community centre for a couple of years, then taught at the
Port Stanley legion until class size outgrew that space. In 1999, he taught at a
St. Thomas elementary school for the Stork Club 2000 event and has been the teacher
of the Elgin Ballroom Dance Club since its inception in January 2000. Now down to
two classes a week at the St. Thomas legion, the Elgin Ballroom Dance Club once
ran six classes a week, 32 weeks of the year, with Donkers teaching all of them.
"There are a lot of students of Ed out there," said Burge.
Donkers announced his retirement at Christmas and to commemorate his years of teaching
dance, Burge said the club is organising a dinner-dance they hope will raise enough
money to boost the charitable donations under Donkers.
"We're hoping lots of Ed's former students will come back to wish Ed well. But also,
members of the community and anyone who loves to dance is welcome. We want it to
be a fun party, because that is what Ed's classes have always been about, having
Tickets for the April 8 event -- to be held at Saxonia in Aylmer because of its
great dance floor, said Burge -- are $45, although people who buy tickets before
Friday (March 3) pay $40. Dinner of chicken and roast beef will be served at 6:30
p.m. with dancing to DJ Eugene Burge from 8:30 p.m. until midnight. For more information,
visit the event Facebook page Dinner-dance for ED, or contact organizer Kate Emerson
at firstname.lastname@example.org or 519-768-1013.