Saturday, September 20, 2008

My Name is Gloria, and I’m Addicted to Line Dancing

My sister, J, got me started line dancing about ten years ago. My husband and I had travelled to visit my widowed mother and my sister and brother-in-law, who were snowbirds in a community where the temperatures are much milder. So, during six months of the year, while we were struggling with cold temperatures, and ice, and snow, they were digging in their yards and taking care of their flowers and generally enjoying all that goes along with mild temperatures.

My sister had started line dancing in order to do the exercising that she was admonished to do. She loved it and at some point the teacher had to quit, and J took over as the leader rather than abandon the line dancing that she had learned to love. My mother was always telling me about how J loved the line dancing and how fun it was for her, so I wanted to go watch her group do their dances.

I was just getting over a bad case of plantar faciitis ([pronounced fashee - eye – tiss] and I do hope you don’t ever have to know what that is, because it is a very painful foot problem). When I first arrived at the Senior Center where they were dancing, she invited me to dance with them. “Oh no,” I said, “I’ll just sit here and watch.”

Famous last words, as the cliché goes. I watched them dance and listened to the beat of the lively music, but not for long. I could not bear to just sit there watching, so I got up and started dancing with them (the heck with the sore feet). I found that I was having so much fun, that I didn’t even notice the feet. Luckily I caught on to the steps quite easily and really enjoyed moving in time with the beat of the music.

When we left to return home, J told me to look up the Senior Center near me to see if they offered Line Dancing. So I called the nearest center in my area, and found out that they did not have line dancing, so I checked out the next closest Senior Center and they did. I showed up one day to begin my line dancing adventure and that has changed my life forever.

I learned the steps to many dances and gained many new friends in the process. I did so well that my sister kept saying, “You could teach.” Well, I didn’t think that was possible at all. In the meantime, I’d occasionally check our local Senior Center to see if they had ever started a line dancing class and the answer was always “no.”

I had the idea that maybe I could convince someone from the group I was dancing with to come out and instruct a class locally. So I called to make my inquiry and when I got the customary “No”, I asked if they would start a class if there was a teacher available to lead it. The Center Director jumped to the conclusion that I was talking about myself and began to talk in that direction. She seemed very amenable to starting a class and began to discuss a possible time. At that moment, my sister’s words rang in my head that I could teach and so in a moment of weakness I agreed to lead a class. Thus it was that we settled on having a Thursday night class after the once-a-week dinner and entertainment.

I was nervous and scared and wondered what in the world had I gotten myself in to. I began our little line dancing class, and every Thursday night for weeks and, yes, even months, I would think that maybe no one would come. Sometimes I would be so nervous that I would even pray for no one to be there. However, there was always a loyal group there. Once we started dancing, we would all have such a good time that I would wonder why I was so nervous.

Soon, class participants began asking for more classes and so the classes expanded to Tuesday and Wednesday mornings and Thursday evening. Somewhere along the way I lost my nervousness and realized that we had all become very good friends and we just had a good time together.

I was still traveling to attend line dancing classes at nearby Senior Centers on the days that I wasn’t leading a class locally. About six years ago, one of the instructors at a nearby Senior Center decided it would be fun for all the Centers to get together for an annual Line Dancing Jamboree. That is just what we did. The various groups would perform original line dances that none of the other clubs knew and the rest of us were the audience. Also at various times, the whole group of dancers would get up all together and do dances we all knew. It was fun, it was exhilarating, and we were exposed to some fun dances that we wanted to learn.

When I left with my husband to serve an 18-month mission to Sao Paulo, Brazil, one of my friends from one of the other centers agreed to come and lead our group until my sister arrived in the area for her summer sojourn. J had been line dancing with her granddaughter, S, with whom she lived during the summer. They would get out in S’s garage and would line dance for their exercise. After J started leading the classes, she encouraged her daughter, SE, to come and start dancing with them. By the time I returned from our mission, J, and S, and SE, were leading the various classes.

J has since become a permanent resident in this area and is no longer a snowbird. I am leader of just one of the classes (it is so much more relaxing to just dance than lead) and J and S and SE lead the other classes here and in nearby Senior Centers.

We just held our sixth annual Jamboree last Wednesday. We had six groups from nearby Senior Centers participating. Since September 17th was Constitution Day, we felt it would be fitting to dress in combinations of red, white, and blue in honor of our great country. The local newspaper came to take pictures, and, of course, we were all taking pictures of each other.

Line dancing is good exercise not only for the body, but also the mind. Some of the dances can be quite intricate and require quick thinking. I like to think that it is just another way to avoid some of the fuzzy thinking that passes for "Senior Moments." Not that I don't have senior moments, good grief I had them long before I became a senior. I like to think that I don't have nearly as many as I would without an active mind.

I just realized I should have taken a picture of the food. We had an array of finger foods that would tempt the palate of even the most discriminate gourmet. I have never been gung ho about taking pictures in the past, but now I’m beginning to take a great interest in it, so I can share them in my blog. But I’m just getting the hang of picture taking, so unfortunately the only picture of the food I have is in my memory. I’ll do better next time.

Pictured below are three line dancing buddies from our group:

More good line dancing friends:

Even more of the good friends I have made since discovering the line dancing world. E on the left front in the red shirt and white tie, took over the three classes I was leading before we left on our mission to Brazil. I will be forever thankful to her for keeping the group going so that it did not die.

One of the groups doing one of their "original" dances (original meaning a dance not familiar to the other groups):

This is our group of teachers--I am the second from the right in the back row. I assure you I was wearing a blue and white striped shirt with red embroidered on the front. I was disappointed that it looks quite gray in the picture. My sister is also wearing a blue and white striped top and is sitting in the front row, first on the left. I apologize that the picture is a little fuzzy, but it was the one someone took for me using my camera.


Melissa said...

Oh you are so fun! I love it and the pictures are great!

Annemarie Allen said...

Mom I'm very proud of you and all you do to inspire me.

I'm grateful you are doing something you love, it keeps you looking young and feeling young.

I love you!