Country line dancing…who knew?

    This is SO much more than the Electric Slide you did at your cousin’s wedding

    by Susan Limone

    I once went to a bar called Artie’s in Frenchtown, NJ. It had a mellow country vibe with lots of wood and a low ceiling and Christmas lights all around. The live band, a bunch of old timers, was playing a mix of old and new country songs. As the lead singer called out the names of each dance, people rushed onto the dance floor and they all moved as one. They all knew the steps so well that they weren’t even thinking about it. Everyone was just in the moment, laughing and stomping and turning, enjoying the feeling of moving to the music. Once in a while the band leader would come out on the floor and give a mini lesson on how to do an easy dance. I think I learned one dance that day but whether one or ten, it didn’t matter. I was hooked.

    Fast forward to post-Covid times when people are finally venturing out into the world again and I happened to see a flyer on a community bulletin board for a Country Line Dancing fundraiser to benefit Alzheimer’s research. $10 for three hours of fun dancing for a great cause? Well, just yes. Turns out they have a running Thursday night event every week at the Newtown American Legion hosted by Jeremy, a friendly, funny, charismatic host who knows everybody’s name and somehow manages to DJ, teach lessons, welcome you at the door, and keep track of a million things going on all at once. Since he held this event every week, I could even practice before the fundraiser. I dragged my older sister along so I wouldn’t feel self-conscious but from the minute we walked in, the people made us feel welcome. Apparently every “newbie” has that same look in their eyes…it’s called “Oh my God how will I ever get all those steps?” The veteran dancers spot you right away, take you by the hand, and tell you not to worry and to just keep doing it. After three visits and a few online tutorials for the simple dances, I felt something start to click. I remember the first time I did a whole dance all the way through. I felt like I was a part of something special. And I realized how simple it can be to have fun.

    At the Alzheimer’s fundraiser, there was excitement in the air. There were almost 100 people, all smiling, laughing, dancing, talking, and encouraging each other even though so many of us had never met before. I don’t think I saw a single cell phone. It was a miracle. No one seemed to care about my politics or my vaccine status. Just kindness and community. I felt like Dorothy when she landed in Oz. I saw friends laughing and putting themselves out on the floor, risking it all, willing to look silly, messing up and trying again, being in the moment. Doing something different. Something outside the box. And loving every minute of it.

    Now I’m the one encouraging the newbies and showing them a few steps. It’s magic to realize that we’re pretty much all looking for the same thing – connection and acceptance just as we are. What if it’s really that simple and we can turn this ship around one community gathering at a time?

    If you’ve never tried it, please do. Put yourself out there and go meet some strangers and learn something new. There will be plenty of time to go back to that bar or restaurant that you always go to. Just grab a few friends and go see what all the fuss is about. I predict that you will soon see…this is going to catch on.

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