Everybody loves to cha-cha-cha.
It's been 53 years since Sam Cooke gave us that bit of wisdom, but it rang true on Saturday night as Greencastle Middle School counselor Kathy Asbell and partner Logan Kuhne cha-cha'd their way to the 2012 Dancing with the Putnam County Stars title.
With three perfect scores of 30 on the night, drama built until the moment Asbell and Kuhne were announced as champions. Others receiving perfect scores were the second-place team of Chet Clodfelter and Colleen Muir for their jive and Sherry Cash and David Boswell for their waltz.
The success of the routine came as a bit of a surprise for two dancers who came into the competition with no expectations of winning.
"I'm a little competitive, but this was just about the experience of it all," Asbell said. "I just wanted to get out of my comfort zone a little bit. I wasn't expecting (to win)."
"I don't care if I win or lose, I just want to have fun," the GHS math teacher said. "I told Kathy, 'If you want to win, I shouldn't be your partner.' I'm not competitive in dancing."
The desire to have fun, though, seemed to carry the night for the couple. They took to the floor wearing huge smiles. Asbell was also in a short dress she normally wouldn't be caught dead in.
"This dress is so short," Asbell said. "This is something I would never wear."
One of the night's judges, Denny "Bruno" Bridges, also expressed his admiration for the dress before giving his score.
"When you get done with that dress, could you please give it to my wife?" Bridges requested.
Following an ensemble number featuring this year's stars, dancing pros and a number of previous stars, the competition began in earnest with a jitterbug by Steve Jones and Hannah Clingan that was cut short when a few steps were forgotten.
All was not lost, though, as Jones was greeted by daughter Emily Knuth with a martini to enjoy while he listened to the critiques.
"Thank you for the work release time to practice," Jones told the judges to a round of laughter.
The laughs continued through the first half of the competition with a character foxtrot by Rick Woodall and Tara Gardner, followed by a swing performance by Mark Timm and Ashley Clute, cha-cha from Carrie Thompson and Brandon Halleck, country jazz by David Zeiner and Jessyca South and country swing by Regina Walton and Brad Sandy.
After the intermission, the competition really heated up, though. Besides the three perfect scores, a near-perfect jive by Jason Chew and Lori Briones and a disco number from Doninique Gibson and Sandy (in his second routine of the night) also highlighted the second half.
"That dance might have been better suited for radio," LaViolette offered once.
"Thank goodness you dance better than you play golf," Headley told another of the stars.
The stars weren't outdone with their own comments, though, with admissions of their own shortcomings.
"I was a bit of a project," Timm admitted.
"I wish I could say I enjoyed it, but I'm a nervous wreck," Thompson said following her dance.
Dancing aside, the real goal of the fourth annual event was to raise money for Putnam County Youth Development, and Executive Director Linda Merkel said that goal was met.
While exact figures were not immediately available, they knew enough on Saturday to name the top fundraising dancers. True to her name, Cash raised the most money at $2,420, followed by Gibson at $1,948.75.
Gardner, who not only partnered with Woodall, but also organized most of the dancing-related aspects of the show, shared Merkel's assessment. The Dance Workshop owner said the only real glitch on the night was a small misunderstanding surrounding the entrance during the opening number.
Jana Brothers, one of the co-emcees, reminded the crowd early in the evening how hard Merkel and Putnam County CASA Director Patti Harmless work in organizing the annual event at the DePauw University Indoor Tennis & Track Center.
"They will probably take a day break and start planning next year's event," Brothers said.
True to form, Merkel already had 2013 on her mind Saturday evening.
"We've had quite a few people say they already want to be involved next year," Merkel said. "On the whole, I thought the evening was a tremendous success."