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2013 Winter Workshop with Jo Thomspon and Ruben Luna

Monday Morning - As I waved goodbye to Jo this morning, all I could hear in my head was Love Lifted Me. This song personifies Jo, and the gift she gave to us this weekend.

FRIDAY NIGHT – I was expecting many of you to get to Ocala Friday night to start this incredible weekend. It was a HURRICANE of beautiful faces, smiles, laughter, hugs, and special guest appearances! Guyton, Natalie, Max and Kathy were here to surprise all of you and dance with us. Louie St. George will be remembered this weekend for playing the best mix of music ever to accommodate our sellout crowd of 225 (plus staff, guests and a few others). Jen and Jason’s fabulous dance floors filled every inch of the ballroom, allowing for those 225 chairs to seat you!

Ruben was handsome and entertaining as ever, and rolled Jo into the room on a luggage rack to a standing ovation! It was an awesome moment as the Queen of Line Dance returned to Ocala, healthy, beautiful and absolutely inspiring in every way! She taught Holidays in the Bayou, and Ruben taught A Little Bit of Soul to open the weekend.

Coffee and elegant and scrumptious desserts were served. The atmosphere was electric! We danced till 11:30 and prepared for the morning workshop!

SATURDAY WORKSHOP – Started with Jo’s Good Morning Warm-up. She and Ruben shared the day with open dancing in between. Lunch Buffet was served in the Hilton’s beautiful tent, decorated with our royal blue, silver & lavender weekend colors. The buffet was really good! Event passes were given as prizes. My thanks to these event directors for contributing to my workshop:

Feb. 7-10, 2013 & 2014 – Two passes to The Big Bang Classic, Will Craig. Will’s first ever event is this coming weekend. We’ll be there and hope you will support him too! We know he will be very successful as an event director.
Feb.16 - Just Wanna Dance, Carol Huban
March 2 - The Villages Line Dance Festival, Jean Brewer
March 7-10 - The Experience, Sandy Albano and Diane Petrosky
July 18-20 - Fun in the Sun, Jen & Jason Cameron
August 16-17- The Barnanza, Janis Graves
Oct. 10-13 - Windy City Line Dance Mania, Mark, Eve and Glenn
Nov. 7-10 - Tampa Bay Line Dance Classic, Jen & Jason Cameron
Additional prizes: All About Dance Basket – included some items Jo brought, plus everything you need to go dancing and a beautiful hand painted “dance inspired” denim purse, donated by Linn (which I wanted for myself – it was really cool).

Afternoon dances followed. We had a different kind of 50/50 raffle this year.
One winner took it all - Puppet LILLY, made especially for our event, donated by Guyton, along with a nice wine and chocolate basket, PLUS TWO weekend event passes – yes, TWO - with my sincere thanks to:
Line Dance MARATHON in Raleigh (donated by Jean Garr and Scott Blevins) and the Boston SHOWDOWN, (donated by Jen and Jason).
The entire amount of money collected is divided between our local Boys and Girls Club (who really need funds to remain open for these disadvantaged kids) and the American Cancer Society. Your generosity will help those who need it. Thank you!

SATURDAY NIGHT: I hope someone can send me a video of This Little Light of Mine. We supplied glow sticks to enhance many blinking rings, pins, hair pieces etc. I dimmed the lights and reminded everyone of Jo’s last request at Windy City in 2010 when she asked the dance community to “keep a light burning” for her as she started the bone marrow transplant procedure. We did, with our prayers and remembrances. Tonight we danced to the song, sang it waving our lights and remembered. As she said, we are all dealing with “something.” This moment took my breath away. I hope you were there for it. The night continued with dancing – I slipped out to get home for the next day! If I missed seeing you, please forgive me. I was wildly crazy with happiness!

Workshop Dances:
Jo taught - Love Lifted Me, Holidays in the Bayou, Forever Cool, Say ‘Ole, Humanised, Choo Choo Cha Boogie, I Love You I Do
Ruben taught – A Little Bit of Soul, Trendin’ (check this one out) and Regressa.

Note: The Scooter Lee music Jo used will be available Feb. 6, this week. I have forms if you wish to order the CD for $12 with no shipping if you notate “Dancin’ with Marilyn Winter Workshop” on your form. All good music and great dances! Jo will also be in Avon Park in March at Scooter’s Event!

SUNDAY MORNING – These barn breakfasts are hard to describe. Ray and I can provide the place, the music and the food. But it’s the people who come who make the memories. There were about 125 present. My prayers were answered with a beautiful morning – no rain and not too cold. Each and every one here has touched our lives in some way. Most of the things you saw in the barn were given to us by dancers who left a piece of themselves with us, whether it was a significant mobile, a special sign, a board or plaque about line dance or friendship, photos, a rocking chair, funny statues, sparkly thinigs that I forgot to turn on that morning, and the list goes on and on. The big black cook stove came out of Stillwaters Saloon where I taught from many years. The chairs at my DJ bar came from Midnight Rodeo, The cool sign from Pappa’s Honkey Tonk, (Southern Stars Dance Club) was my dance life started in 1982. All are memories of this incredible journey. It all represents YOU and the place we’ve arrived!

Jo presented her testimony of Courage, Passion and Grace. We showed her video from the Crystal Boot Awards and induction into the Hall of Fame. We relaxed, danced and enjoyed the moment. She is a very unique woman, with the strength of an army in her tiny frame; one of a kind, and we love her.

Thank you for the lovely notes, the flowers, the kind words of appreciation. The feeling is mutual, as you have made my world extraordinary!

SUNDAY NIGHT – Private time with Jo and friends, a fire, wine, bourbon, Ray’s ribs, Super Bowl, and thoughts about the weekend. Priceless.

From my heart I thank:

My Honey Ray - without whom, I am nothing. He’s loved me, supported my every endeavor, encouraged me, and brought me where I am today. He is My Only Need. Ruben – what can I say except that I cannot dance next to you, my friend! I love the gentleman that you are and what you bring to everyone around you, never failing to give your very best.

Carol Craven, who (before Facebook) was the one unifying source to advertise our events, post all our news, find steps, music, information about everything we needed to know in the line dance world. I’m grateful for Carol and her friendship and support.

Stuart Steele, owner and operator of “Stuart’s Shuttle Service,” who has consistently been there to transport our guest stars arriving for the workshop. I did have a whole list of folks offering to transport Jo and Ruben!!! They were willing to pay me for this honor!!! Thank you, Stuart.

My friends here in Ocala – the weekly Lunch Bunch who had my back all weekend, including the ones I wore out all weekend, namely Nancy and Karen, Amanda, Carol, Brenda, Gayle, Barbara, Steve and Stuart. And thanks for staying to clean up the barn after breakfast. You know me and continue to tolerate my chaos (I hope)! I could never thank you enough. I am blessed with you in my life.

The Hilton Hotel is our first hotel experience, as we’ve held the last 10 Winter Workshops at Midnight Rodeo. I loved it. The staff was excellent. Jessica and Ann were constant and trustworthy all weekend - it was more than I hoped for. Pam, Stacy and the chef’s staff were outstanding and made it all happen smoothly. Thank you!

ALL OF YOU – nothing happens without you, the dancers and spectators. Jo and Ruben were the superstars, but all of YOU are stars too. Many said the weekend should be called the most positive ever – there was not one single negative aspect that I am aware of. We had the best on the stage – AND the best on the dance floor.

THANK YOU for coming this weekend. I hope you take Jo’s message with you. It is the key to living life to the fullest, and available to all of us. Expect the best for yourselves, do all you can, and leave the rest to God.

Please email me 3-4 of your best photos of the event and breakfast for my website and also for my barn collages to record your presence this weekend. I’ll post them next week sometime. The Barn Collages will be up on the walls as long as we are here and you will be with us too!

We will dance together again!

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