Local Hero: Cameron Stewart

CamStewart copyCameron Stewart is my local hero for welcoming me to his contra dance. As a technical caller his skill is average, but as a presence, as a warm human being, he's the best. He made so many, many people feel at home, feel they could take a chance and try contra that he almost single-handedly started contra in Vancouver, BC.

He's a family man, so he made sure that people with children could bring them and not have to hire a sitter. In fact he let kids in free. The hall he found had a place where children could play out of the way of the dancers.

At a time when money was tight he started putting on dances. He told me once that he put on dances out of the grocery money. You can bet that made for super-strength motivation to succeed. He put up posters himself, taught himself to call, learned the dances, all to make sure of success.

And despite all that, he had the knack of being warm and forgiving and welcoming from the stage.

About the third time I volunteered to sit at the door and take admission, I bundled up the proceeds as I had twice before for him to take home. He said "You take it."

I could hardly believe it. His trust in a stranger was that strong. That's how I became treasurer for the dance series, a job I kept for 8 years -- just on Cameron's trust of a stranger.

His welcoming, trusting spirit isn't an act. It's just the way he is.

And, he taught it, as well. Once or twice each evening he would talk a bit about etiquette. "You're dancing with everyone in the room, not just your partner." "Think about the people behind you." "Deliver your partner to the next dancer on time and balanced on her own two feet." He thought traditional sex roles were an important part of dancing, so he could fault the men for not being gentlemen. It worked too. The dancing became more tolerant, gracious, and graceful.

    - Submitted by Andrew Kurn