As I entered my 40’s, my aspirations of pursuing a dance career — or simply some level of dance ability — began to wane. Although I did not feel like my body was as capable or flexible as it had been in my twenties, I yearned for some form of rhythmic exercise other than dance aerobics. Several years of dance lessons during my childhood years, including tap, basic ballet, and beginning gymnastics, had provided firm and muscular calves that were often not boot-friendly. However, when my family had moved from an urban area to a very rural area during my childhood, my social life and dance lessons had come to a screeching halt. Later, adult experiences provided me with a knack for the basic two step and free style rock and roll; still, I carried with me an innate desire to dance as exercise and entertainment.
At age 40, a regional move from Texas to very rural Kentucky positioned me in a small town – a dry town — that offered line dance lessons two hours every Monday night for a meager $2. I began attending, fumbling and stumbling through the first several weeks. I made some new friends, which was a welcomed perk to my new endeavor. However, there were several occasions when I swore that I would give up, because my brain and my feet just seemed to struggle with communicating with each other. I am ever so thankful that I did not! The $2 fee has since felt the bite of inflation and is now $5 under a different instructor; however, it is well worth it. There are multitudinous benefits in learning to line dance, as I intend to illustrate.
Fast forward five years to age 45. This will be my sixth year as an avid line dance enthusiast. Cellulite is my enemy as much as it is for any other middle aged woman, but my calves are more firm, more muscular, and better sculpted than they were in my 20’s. Although I am heavier in my middle age than I would wish to be, I am sure that my obsession with this fun exercise keeps my weight under what it would be otherwise. The endorphins produced by the execution of a routine are addictive! One team member has dropped 40 pounds in three years and is an associate teacher of the routines.
Line dancing is terrific therapy, mentally and physically. It demands that one’s mind and body communicate and work together. It is adaptable for those who are not quite adept at rhythm, although it may be more of a challenge for that population. For those who can “feel” the beat and cadence of the melody, the routines are easily learned, just as athletes naturally adapt to games. People often comment that it is amazing that line dancers can retain many different routines, but it is much easier than one would expect. There are a few basic steps that are customary in most of the dances; a mastery of those steps provides a firm platform for the various routines.
Line dancing is age friendly. For example, our team has dancers as young as ten (and younger enthusiasts often attempt to join in), and we boast an octogenarian as well. Most of our members are from the baby boom generation. As aforementioned, this popular past time is also body weight/body shape friendly. It is a great calorie burner for the overweight, and the cardiac or aerobic level of participation is very flexible. In other words, a variety of age and weight participants can easily enjoy this hobby.
It is a myth that line dancing is a hobby or skill associated only with country western music. This could not be more incorrect! Our local team dances and performs to various genres of music in addition to strictly country: ZZ Top, Justin Timberlake, Ciara, Backstreet Boys, Carrie Underwood, Will Smith, Pussycat Dolls, and Shania Twain are all artists to whom we have danced and performed. In fact, I often enjoy the dances to pop music more than to country.
The next time you are seeking a new diversion or hobby that provides brain and body enhancement, seek out potential line dance groups in your community. It will be a melodious and healthy decision!