Before a year ago, I would have said the chances of seeing me dance in public were as likely as me ordering a salad at Culver's. But with a little help from a very patient instructor and a mix of good music, I can now say "Yes, I line dance. Why don't you?"
I know what you're thinking. "I can't line dance. I don't own a pair of cowboy boots and have never seen 'Urban Cowboy.'"
Me neither. I'm a city girl, raised in the 'burbs of Detroit, not Amarillo. Sure, I went to Hazel Park High School for a time, nicknamed "Hazeltucky," for good reason, but my musical tastes lean more toward Elvis Costello than Hank Williams.
Truth be told, last March I came to the conclusion that (gasp) I needed to get more exercise. A shocker!
But there are some things I won't do. Competitive sports are out, and I just plain didn't want to get "too sweaty."
I wasn't quite ready to join a gym (again) and already had tried (and enjoyed) swimming and cross country skiing. I wanted something different, something I could learn for the first time with others, all of us at the same level. Something fun.
Perusing the list of community programs offered locally gleaned a lot of options. But which one? Ballet? Uh, no. Pilates, Zumba, "Core and More"? Goodness, no. "Ultimate Conditioning"? Certainly not. I was not ready for anything "ultimate."
Then I saw it - Beginning Line Dance. "Beginning Level Line Dances taught in a relaxed, informal atmosphere with an emphasis on having fun." Bingo! Exactly what I was looking for in exchange for putting up with seven total hours of country music. I could do that. In fact, my mom and husband could do that, too.
"Hey, we're all signed up for a line dancing class," I casually dropped one night at dinner. "It starts Monday."
"Great!" Mom said.
"Seriously?" the husband said. "You shore you want to do that there line dancing, little filly?"
The hubs never seems to get his accents quite right, but the implication was we'd all start speaking a little slower, eat grits and gravy and start watching a lot of Jeff Foxworthy shows.
Whatever. All I wanted to do was try out a new activity that required the expended energy of somewhere between sitting on the couch and having a full-blown asthma attack.
Come that Monday, we were relieved to see our instructor looked... well, normal. No outrageous cowboy boots or hat, no rhinestone-studded jean jacket, no suede fringe of any kind. So far, so good.
My classmates came in, and they all looked normal, too, ranging from a Michigan Tech grad student from Korea to a retired dentist. Couples, singles, all ages. All there just to have fun.
"The first dance we're going to do is called 'The Electric Slide,' which you may know," our instructor said. "It's very popular at weddings."
Apparently at weddings everyone attends but us, we concluded, since we'd never heard of it. But step by step, over and over, we practiced until we got it. A grapevine to the right, a grapevine to the left, back and forth a couple of times. We've got it! Hurray!
Since that first day about a year ago, we've taken the class each semester, learning new dances each time. Our instructor never lets us rest on our laurels.
"Good!" she praises. "Now let's go faster!"
The dances have become more challenging, but the class has definitely lived up to its promise of being fun and informal.
And the music? Sure, there's been some Willie Nelson, Trace Adkins and Blake Shelton. There's also been some Beatles, Donna Summer, Maroon 5 and Lady Gaga. I'll never be accused of "moving like Jagger," but at least now I know all the words to the song.
The next time I'm invited to a wedding, I'll be ready.
Jane Nordberg can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.