Victoria dance pair earns double gold

James Bay couple win two categories at U.S. ballroom competition

David Spence and Denise Riley-Spence gracefully go through a dance routine at a recent competition. The couple won two gold at a ballroom event in California last month.

David Spence and Denise Riley-Spence gracefully go through a dance routine at a recent competition. The couple won two gold at a ballroom event in California last month.

David Spence and Denise Riley-Spence first watched ballroom dancing while on a cruise five years ago. They were hooked, but soon discovered recreational social dancing didn’t satisfy.

“We saw competitive dancers and we said ‘Wow, that’s what we want to do,’” said Riley-Spence. “We don’t do anything half-assed.”

The couple started seriously training, five days a week. A coach from Vancouver teaches them once every three weeks.

All that work paid off big time on Feb. 4.

The couple won two gold medals at the Southwest Dancesport Championships at Laguna Beach, Calif. in two age categories: 35-plus and 45-plus. They danced the waltz, tango, fox trot and quick step.

For Americans, winners of the regional championship gain entry into the national competition.

Canadians, however, get “nothing,” Riley-Spence said, laughing.

Victorians will get a chance to watch their winning couple compete at the annual Dance Pacifica Ball, held June 9.

Riley-Spence hopes to ignite some interest in the local competition.

“Sometimes we’ll compete at Dance Pacifica and there might be 75 people in the audience. You dance differently when there’s more people cheering you on. When it’s so poorly attended, as dancers, it doesn’t give us that edge.”

For more information on the upcoming competition, visit www.dancepacifica.org.

rholmen@vicnews.com