Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Dance Destinations - Cadillac Ranch and Mishnock Barn

Miles, Smiles, and Boot Scuffing Fun

Delaware Dancers at Mishnock Barn - Photo Credit: John Haug
      For those who enjoy line dancing as much as we do a big part of the fun is going to different classes and venues, meeting new people, and experiencing all the wonderful camaraderie the dancing community has to offer.  Truth be told, although we've been dancing a few years, we're relative newcomers to the country dancing community, so it was quite a pleasant surprise when local instructor Rob Holley invited us along on a very well organized trip to two well-known country dancing destinations - Cadillac Ranch and Mishnock Barn.

     Although we've referred to our group, which ultimately grew to 32 people, as "The Delaware Dancers" that's only because they are familiar to us from dancing at Delaware venues. They came from Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and this tight-knit group had nothing but fun from start to finish.

     It was a leisurely trip north on the first day, Thursday, and several of us arranged to meet up in Sleepy Hollow, NY for lunch and sightseeing.  First stop - the infamous Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, home to Washington Irving's Headless Horseman.

     Afterward some of the dancers met at a local pub for lunch, and exchanged ideas about what the next few days would bring.  Let's just say the weekend turned out to exceed all our expectations.  We arrived at our respective hotels, checked in, and later that evening stopped into the Cadillac Ranch in Southington, CT to dance.

    It was our second night, however that was a bit special for the group as more of our friends arrived and our own local instructor and choreographer Rob Holley took the floor to teach one of his own dances to the locals.  We learned a few of the dances popular there as well.

     The Cadillac Ranch has a spacious dance floor, which as you can see in the photo at left has a perimeter area reserved for couples dancers.  This is a nice feature, as it's not uncommon for dance floors to get crowded enough that it's almost impossible for couples to dance.  The DJ informed us that they're pretty strict about keeping the perimeter reserved for couples, and if someone strays outside the line dancing area their trespass is pointed out by management.

     There's plenty of seating, and the menu of pub style food is varied enough that there should be something to suit just about anyone.  If you're interested in visiting yourself you can get more information on the Cadillac Ranch Website.

Our group at Cadillac Ranch - Photo Credit: John Haug

     Of course our trip included some non-dancing sightseeing along the way, and two of our favorite spots were the Gillette Castle, and the Newport Cliff Walk.

Interior of Gillette Castle
Gillette Castle is located in East Haddam, CT, not far from Lyme, and sits on a hill overlooking the Connecticut River.  It was built in 1919 for the actor William Gillette, who carefully oversaw the details of the construction.

     A few of the unique features of the home include a series of mirrors, strategically placed to allow Gillette to observe his guests from a vantage point outside his second floor bedroom,  and the beautifully made decorative wooden doors, no two of which are alike. We would highly recommend a stop if you're in the area, as the place just oozes history and mystery.

   The Newport Cliff Walk in Newport, RI is another must-visit attraction. This 3.5 mile scenic hike along the Newport shoreline is simply put spectacular.  The views across the water are beautiful, and the backdrop of mansions a site to behold.  This is where the elite built both summer homes and permanent residences, and the architectural details and sheer size of many of these homes is breathtaking.  Some of the mansions offer tours, so schedule your day accordingly.

     Some of the cliff walk runs high on the cliff along well-maintained paved trails, but there are portions that require some scrambling over rocks and rip rap.  All in all time well spent.

      Our final night of the trip was spent at the Mishnock Barn in West Greenwich, RI,  home to well-known dancers and choreographers Dan and Kelly Albro .  The barn features 3 separate dancing areas, and the DJ does a great job of directing the dancers to a particular one for each song played, so that 3 separate dances can be done at the same time without any group interfering with the other.

     We had a great time here, and our hosts were very gracious in accommodating our large group.

     Throughout the course of the night we danced to a few of Dan's dances, and as we are fond of couples dances, were pleased that there were plenty of opportunities to do those throughout the night.

   Towards the end of the evening our hosts also surprised us with an
opportunity to dance to several songs that are very popular in our home area, as well as several dances choreographed by Rob Holley and Eric Mosley.

     We highly recommend you visit both these great dancing destinations.  They're well worth the trip!

   Many thanks to all the great friends who traveled along and helped make this dancing trip a joy to participate in, and special thanks to Rob Holley for inviting us along on this great adventure.

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