“Country-western dancing is a dance of community. And that’s what a lot of people are looking for these days. ”Nancy Sheppard, owner, Satin ‘n Denim dance studio
The country dance floors are filling quickly, as people from all walks of life enjoy the boot-stomping popularity of country-western dancing. Although not new, this latest wave of popularity has earned it a wide following. People can socialize and exercise while enjoying the latest country music. There’s a great variety to country dance. Two-stepping is the more traditional form, and this dance requires a partner. But it’s line dancing that is responsible for the current wave of interest. You don’t need a partner or even fancy clothes-just a few lessons (often provided free or at low cost by dance clubs) and a little enthusiasm.
Joan Messina took up country dancing at a friend’s suggestion after her husband passed away. She decided to go, despite her depression and painful arthritis. She received some wonderful benefits from dancing.
“My depression lifted, and I found that the dancing kept me limber. There are some nights I feel I might be too stiff and sore to dance, but I just take a hot shower, put on my boots and go. As soon as the music starts, I’m on the floor, and as far as I’m concerned, the pain is gone,” says Joan. She also credits dancing with helping her keep off the 50 pounds she lost through dieting.
Strictly ballroom. For those who prefer the timeless elegance of Fred and Ginger, ballroom dancing is another great way to get an aerobic workout. While you might expect interest in this activity to have died down, ballroom dancing is more popular than ever. This continued support might be because the ballroom offers something for dancers at any level. Those who are out of shape can start with slower dances like the fox-trot and waltz. Ballroom dancing provides a good workout as well. Exercise specialists say that vigorous ballroom dancing can raise your heart rate just as much as running or cross-country skiing.
Honor to your partner. Also popular is the energetic country group dance known as square dancing. Here dancers follow the instructions of a caller, listening for the next steps to be announced. A square dance is colorful: women wear full ruffled dresses, and men wear western shirts and boots. What sets square dancing apart, and what may be its greatest strength, is that it is a group activity. Here people dance in sets of four couples,
changing partners often, as the steps dictate. This dance is a terrific way to overcome shyness. Once-timid people report finding new inner confidence with the friendly group sup-
These three dances provide only a sampling of the ways you can kick up your heels for good health. Check for local dance classes if you are interested.