Head of the line
When line dancing hit New Zealand in the early 90s, Kiwis couldn’t get their cowboy boots on fast enough. But for Greenwich Gardens couple Bill and Rosaline Chapman, the new craze dished up a lot more than fancy footwork.
I saw it for the first time at a country music evening and some ladies were line dancing to Achy Breaky Heart. I thought to myself ‘that looks pretty cool’,” says Bill.
He didn’t know it at the time, but that dance was to become the catalyst to a whole new career.
There was a club in Auckland, the Cask ‘n Cleaver, and they started doing line dancing. I became a regular and one day they asked me if I’d teach some classes.”
Although Bill didn’t have any formal dance teaching experience, he’d spent several years as a driving instructor and understood the importance of being methodical and systematic.
“I developed an eight-week beginners line dancing course and it just took off from there.”
It wasn’t long before the couple chucked in their jobs at an Auckland printing company to focus full-time on teaching line dancing.
“I’ll never forget one night we had about 120 people packed onto the tiny Cask ‘n Cleaver dance floor – people were virtually hanging out of the doors and windows. That’s when Rosaline and I decided it was time to take our classes out to the suburbs.”
The next 26 years were a whirlwind of dancing, teaching and travelling.
“Line dancing opened doors for us that we never would have experienced. We travelled all over New Zealand, to Australia, America and Hong Kong. Rosaline even choreographed her own line dance, ‘Tequila Rose’, which became known worldwide.
“Line dancing has been very kind to us and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it. It has enabled me to make a living doing something I love every day, and it has kept me fit.”
They may have now retired, but the couple certainly haven’t hung up their cowboy hats.
“When we moved into Greenwich Gardens four years ago word soon got around that ‘Bill Chapman was here’ and people asked if I’d start some classes. Now we run two classes a week at the village – Tuesday morning sessions for beginners and more advanced classes on Wednesday afternoons.”
Although Rosaline does more of the hands-on teaching these days, classes are still conducted under Bill’s expert supervision.
“I’ve had some compression fractures so unfortunately I can’t dance like I used to.”
But not one to dwell on the negative, Bill still finds plenty of ways to indulge his love of all things country.
“I’ve been involved in the country music scene for years and have started doing a lot more singing now. I’ve also been doing a bit of karaoke which is fun!”