The Foreign Residents in the TRNC
30 minutes with the Secretary
by Ralph Kratzer
Steve and Denise Bisson
The interested visitor and reader of our website will remember one of my first articles in December 2012 about the Phoenix Line Dance Club in North Cyprus and its founders, Steve and Denise Bisson.
They are very new members, joining the TFR club at the end of last year. Nevertheless I have known them for a longer time because my girlfriend is a member of the Line Dancers. So I decided to make my next interview with this lovely couple at their villa in Alsancak.
Steve was born in 1944 on the Channel Island of Guernsey with his father being a native there and his mother originally coming from Hungary with her family roots going back to Poland. Not enough, his fathers grandpa came from the French overseas region of Guadeloupe in the Caribbean. The sailor was shipwrecked in the English Channel, found and nursed by a Guernsey woman later becoming his wife and the great-grandma of Steve. (By the way, the surname “Bisson” comes from the French word “buisson” and means nothing else than “bush”).
Leaving school at the age of 15, Steve had an apprenticeship as a carpenter and joiner and followed this profession for 25 years, 12 years of it being self-employed. After a further education which he underwent Steve then became a civil servant for the Guernsey Government in the field of water supply and did this job for another couple of years before his early retirement at the age of 58.
Note: For people like me knowing little about the Channel Islands, here is some explanation:
Guernsey, officially the Bailiwick of Guernsey, is a British Crown dependency in the English Channel off the coast of Normandy. As a bailiwick, Guernsey embraces not only all ten parishes on the Island of Guernsey, but also the islands of Alderney and Sark – each with their own parliament – and the smaller islands of Herm, Jethou and Lihou. Although its defence is the responsibility of the United Kingdom, the Bailiwick is not, despite common belief, part of the United Kingdom but, as its description suggests, a possession of the British Crown (British Monarchy). Consequently, though it lies within the Common Travel Area of the European Union, it is not part of the European Union.
Together, the Bailiwick of Guernsey and Bailiwick of Jersey form the geographical grouping known as the Channel Islands.
Coming back to the interview:
Denise first saw the light of the world in Birmingham in the heart of England in summer 1946.
After her school time there she learned the profession of hairdressing. Aged 17 she met Steve, who stayed in Birmingham in those days, in a little dance hall and after 3 years of temporary separation and then reunion the couple married and decided that Guernsey was to be their centre of life. Denise carried on hairdressing until their first child, a boy, was born. Another two children, a son and daughter followed and the family has been expanded by three grand children, all of them still living in Guernsey and England but visiting their parents and grand parents from time to time. When her children were grown up, Denise started to work at a state facility for people with learning disabilities. She enjoyed doing this job as a care worker for 11 years and then retired aged 56.
After different holidays to such spectacular destinations as Hawaii, the couple found a picture book about North Cyprus and felt immediately attracted. They decided to visit the island in 1997 and first came to the Famagusta side. Travelling around they fell in love with the northern coast and Kyrenia. One year after they came back and stayed for a holiday in Club Lapetos in Lapta. Again one year later they made their decision for permanent accommodation and in 2003 they settled down in the village of Alsancak.
Of course I had to ask the inevitable question to Steve and Denise – when did their passion for Line Dance start and they answered that it all started in Guernsey when a friend persuaded them to join a class for Line Dancing in 1999. Coming to North Cyprus they learned from a radio broadcast of BRT Radio and its well-known presenter Can Gazi, that Line Dance was popular over here as well. They joined the existing group in Kyrenia for a while, followed by a 2 year involvement with the Kıbrıs Liners and then started their own club, the Phoenix Line Dancers, in 2009.
During the time with the Kıbrıs Liners, Steve started to be an instructor and choreographer. I asked how he and Denise could reach such a level of professionalism in such a few years (and believe me, they are professionals!) he laughed and told me that besides doing housework and the garden they have dedicated their lives to dance and that they not only live Line Dance but very often even dream of it! They listen to a music title and then start to invent a dance choreography to it, about one new dance a week. In their own words: related to their age (good joke!) they had to cut down the lessons they are giving from five to three a week.
In addition to the lessons come several dance events they organize during the year in North Cyprus and invitations to Line Dance Clubs abroad. So the couple plan to go again to Germany this year to meet with their dancing friends in “Lüneburger Heide” (in English language “Lüneburg Heath”) where they already had an enjoyable stay last year.
If any of our readers are interested in learning more about the Phoenix Line Dance Club click here
When I entered their house for the interview I recognized a beautiful showcase with around 200 silver teaspoons inside. I asked Steve about this and he answered: when the children had grown up and he and Denise could afford it, they travelled around the world and from every place they had visited they brought a commemorative spoon back with them, locations like Hawaii, New Zealand, Australia, Kenya, Egypt and a lot more! The rest of the souvenirs had been presents from friends and relatives.
Although having had a difficult time over here last year and some doubts if they should stay any longer they have now decided to be part of our community furthermore. Very nice to hear that!
For those who, like me, perhaps do not know a lot about Guernsey, perhaps you would like to take a walking tour of Guernsey on the Youtube video below. Video link suggested by Steve.