Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia affect such a significant proportion of the population of Ireland that there is hardly a family that has not been touched by what can be a crippling and cruel condition. The Alzheimer’s Society of Ireland do their best to help those in need through their important advocacy work, as well as at the Le Chairde centre in Cashel. These days funding has become an issue for all charities.
To that end nine couples have volunteered their time and their feet to entertaining the people of South Tipperary and raising money for this very worthy cause. The premise for the competition is simple but exacting. Ten dancers with twenty left feet between them who have never danced, except when they do the odd-foot shuffle at weddings, are paired up with ten dancers who take their rumbas quite a bit more seriously. The experts train and choreograph the newbies.
Then on Friday, 5th October at Hotel Minella in Clonmel, in front of an audience of hundreds, they dance their little socks off like they’ve never danced before.
One of the couples is Ruth Quinn and PJ Mulcahy. Ruth is the reigning South Tipperary Strictly Champion, having won last year’s inaugural competition with Damien Byrne. This year she has swapped one teacher for another, replacing Damien with PJ.
PJ was preparing for his wedding earlier in the summer by taking dancing lessons for his first dance. Ruth convinced him to take things a step further and enter this year’s competition. When PJ found out that the competition was raising money for the Alzheimer’s Society, he ceded to Ruth’s nagging and agreed to take part. While Ruth is a self-confessed Strictly addict, PJ’s response was Strictly Come What? Ruth says that PJ has stretched her patience to the limit, as he struggled with their intricate choreography to their song Tainted Love by Soft Cell.
Ruth also recruited her sister Aoife Quinn to take part. Aoife has teamed up with Mad Scientist Nicky Power to dance to Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance, which is a Paso Doble for those of you who are dance aficionados. Nicky jumped at the challenge of taking part this year and was delighted to give up so much of his time to get it right. He hopes to prove that he is a better dancer than even he thought he was himself. Aoife was the person who suggested that The Alzheimer’s Society should be this year’s charity, as she works in the Le Chairde centre in Cashel. Aoife has seen at first hand the incredible difference that the charity makes to people’s lives.
Another old hand at the competition is the very young Leah Morrissey. Leah was on the other side of the stage last year, taking part as the strictly amateur but this year she has the onerous task of mentoring local Garda DJ O’Dwyer. Policemen are supposedly flat-footed from walking the beat but Leah says that fitness freak DJ has really applied himself to the task. DJ confessed that his previous experience of dancing has been making an eejit of himself at weddings, but under Leah’s steady and sometimes impatient guidance he has learned not to fall over his own feet. Leah and DJ’s specialist dance will be the Salsa to the beats of Michael Jackson’s Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’.
All of their hard work will be in vain, however, unless people turn out to see them at Hotel Minella on the 5th October. Tickets are available from the Better by Nature shop in Market Place, Clonmel; The Heritage in Cahir; the Le Cairde centre in Cashel; the Alzheimer’s society office in the Resource Centre in Kickham Street, Clonmel or by phoning 062-63060 or 086-0490548.