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Couples finally ready to strut their stuff in style

After several months of ballroom dancing instruction from two pros, neighborhood dancers are equipped to swing it.

Last year's holiday season found Dave and Terri Hague-Rogers stepping all over each other's feet on the dance floor.

"This year we're dancing like pros," said Dave Rogers, 39. He and his wife, along with 16 other Westchase couples, have spent the past nine months taking ballroom dancing lessons every Monday night from Westchase ballroom dance teacher Timothy Mason, 33 and wife, Michelle, 31.

"We're still going strong," said Timothy Mason, who lives with his wife in Westchase.

"We're way better this year than last year," Dave Rogers agreed. Although wife Terri is now six months pregnant, the couple still dance the tango, foxtrot, mambo, samba and meringue each week.

The Masons have been busy lately, teaching a 7 p.m. class on Mondays to get residents ready for New Year's Eve parties. "We've had 14 of the original bunch going since April," Mason said. "It's quite a social affair."

The Westchase dance couples even went on a field trip to St. Petersburg's Stouffer Vinoy Resort for a Christmas dinner-dance. Mason said two months ago, he started another course and the response was great with about 34 people now attending.

The current class is now closed, but the Masons are poised to start another ballroom dancing class sometime in the new year. "It will be the latter part of January, run for six weeks and cost $80 per person," Mason said.

Another class is planned at the West Park Village clubhouse.

The Masons met at 16 as aspiring dancers in a small town near London. Now, they make their living as professional dance teachers. "Once a month we go to dance studios in Omaha and universities with dance programs throughout North Carolina," Mason said.

They competed professionally until two years ago, earning high rankings in a worldwide dancing federation, the Imperial Society.

Warm weather attracted them to the Tampa area in 1995. Since then they have taught at numerous schools including the Rhapsody Dance Studio in Temple Terrace.

"We wanted to settle down, teach classes and think about having some junior dancers of our own," Mason said.

They're not the only ones. Mason said that three couples in the class are expecting children. "But they still love dancing," he said. "They're having a great time learning dances like the waltz, fox trot, swing, jive, and Latin dances like the cha-cha, rumba and mambo."

_ JANE BOKUN

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