The long time line-dancing duo Staffie Brine and Jean Maskiewich enjoyed their last day as volunteer instructors, May 3, at Pioneer Place Activity Centre in Smithers.
Brine and Maskiewich were introduced to line-dancing by a group from Kitimat, who performed at a workshop held at the Dze L K’ant Friendship Centre in 1992.
Both thought what they saw looked like fun and were encouraged to begin teaching classes.
“In the first year, there were four women attending,” said Brine.
“Although we didn’t have a clue what we were doing, we carried on and by word-of-mouth the next group became eight and then it escalated from there.”
As interest grew they soon realized they needed to offer two more classes on Thursdays.
Two decades later, Brine and Maskiewich estimate 60-70 women took in their line-dancing classes.
Classes ran from October through April and were always a women-only affair.
Student Claudette Hycha jokingly offered one explanation as to why.
“I have a husband who doesn’t like dancing and thought this would be one way to get out and dance,” she said.
“There are also a lot of ladies who are widowers,” Brine said.
“This way they can come and dance, too.”
The cost for a year’s worth of personalized dance instruction was just $10 per year, the cost of the membership in the seniors association; later this was bumped up to $20.
The duo split duties, Brine said.
She took care of the music selection while Maskiewich was the dance instructor.
Over the past two decades, many of the ladies involved have formed strong friendships with Brine and Maskiewich.
“They’ve been wonderful,” Nancy De Vries, of theSmithers Senior Citizens Association, said.
“They always let you go at your own pace and there was never any pressure.
“It was a joy to work with them.”
Though 21 of their students have passed away and 13 others have moved away, some of the original dancers were still going strong right to the final day.
“The oldest lady we ever had was 90,” Brine said.
The group have been on stage at various venues
around Smithers, including the fall fair, trade show, Bulkley Lodge, Elk and Meadows and have also performed in other communities.
Their colorful, coordinated outfits have changed only twice.
In 1996, they started wearing the familiar geese and mountains garb and then in 2008 they switched over to a stick figure pattern.
Some discussion is underway for potential replacements for Brine and Maskiewich but nothing has been formalized as yet.
“They are great people and we will miss them,” long-time student Fofo Pacheco said.