Kaikohe girl Suzy Cato may have been voted off Dancing with the Stars but that's no reason for Northlanders to despair.
Later this month Kerikeri will be hosting its own version of the popular TV show with 16 well-known Northlanders competing for dance floor glory in the Battle of the Ballroom, a fundraiser for Hospice Mid-Northland.
Contestants include Far North deputy mayor Tania McInnes, Kerikeri GP Simon Bristow, community cop Rob Drummond and Paihia events manager Anika Whapshott, along with a DoC ranger, business owners, an astrophotographer and a primary school teacher.
One difference that makes the Battle of the Ballroom extra-challenging is that the ''stars'' are paired up with other amateur dancers, not with an instructor. Each pair will perform a different routine ranging from the tango to the Charleston.
The June 23 event at the Turner Centre will be MC'd by TV personality Mike Puru with comedian Jackie Clarke, actor/musician Troy Kingi and real Dancing with the Stars judge Alison Leonard making up the high-powered judging panel.
Hospice Mid-Northland fundraising manager Adele Woodward said she had been preparing the event since last November.
''I got wind early on that Dancing with the Stars was coming back. It was a perfect opportunity and timing to bring the idea to life.''
Most of the national celebrities taking part were doing it for free, she said.
''That's pretty humbling when they don't even live in this community.''
The show had proved so popular all 450 tickets had sold out almost immediately but seats were still available for a matinee on the same day.
All 16 dancers will perform in the 11am show, along with five junior couples, but it would be a showcase rather than a contest.
McInnes, who will dance the tango with Kerikeri lawyer Rick Palmer, said it was completely outside her comfort zone.
''But it's a really good cause and it will be a fabulous night. We're all amateurs starting from scratch and really proud of each other,'' she said.
Kerikeri dance instructor Leona Burrell volunteered to be the lead teacher after her sister needed hospice care last year. She has been joined by three other tutors, two of them Latin dance specialists from Spain. Training has been taking place over the past 12 weeks.
Woodward said interest in the Battle of the Ballroom had been so strong it would became a regular event. The next battle, in 2020, could be spread over a few days to allow more people to attend.
She hoped it would raise $40,000 and become one of Hospice Mid-Northland's three main fundraisers, the others being an art and collectibles auction every October and a golf tournament in March.
Just under half the organisation's funding came from the Government, via the district health board, with the other $700,000 from its own fundraising efforts.
Hospice Mid-Northland provides care for the terminally ill and their families from Towai to Taupo Bay and from coast to coast.
■ Tickets for the 11am-1.30pm matinee on June 23 cost $20 for children, $40 adults or $300 for a table of 10. Call (09) 407 7799 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to book.