I love Howard Steer’s depiction of down-under outback line dancing [look it up, it’s copyrighted DG]– amazing what a few tinnies of XXXX can do for you! Having just returned from Australia and found many broken and malfunctioning whirly washing lines I was disappointed not to have come across any line dancers on them – must have been in the wrong place at the wrong time but perhaps next time I’ll be lucky.
But you don’t need Dutch courage from a can of beer or need to be a tightrope artist to enjoy a Tuesday evening with the U3A line dancing group. Ably led by Sandra Mills with the help of Joan Risley the group meets weekly at the Sports Centre and for £1.00 you can have fun, laughter and a surprisingly energetic hour.
I arrived early and found two people already waiting. This couple had actually joined the U3A solely because they wanted to line dance – not just for the dancing but for the music as well. I realised what they meant when the music began which was firstly a waltz style and reminded me so much of Cajun music. Then there were country-style favourites where the regulars sang along and glided through their steps; not only could they dance but some had really good singing voices too.
Referring back to the couple that had arrived early they had done so because being beginners, and not knowing the steps, Joan would give them a bit of personal tuition before the session started. Joan is a very keen line dancer and I’m told has just returned from a Line Dancing holiday. She told me that you can get details of sequences written down, I imagine rather like sheet music with the addition of dance steps, but she said she preferred to find the dances on the Internet and watch them.
Before visiting the Line Dancing Group I had never really thought about what they actually did. Once the music started I couldn’t help but join in. We didn’t stand in one line, but several smaller ones, allowing each other plenty of space. Now I thought I was quite good at this sort of thing but one thing I quickly found out is that you don’t wear trainers, as toe pointing and nifty steps don’t seem to work out with clumpy shoes like that. The next is that you need a bit of a memory but not as much as it seems at first because the dances are a repeated series of choreographed movements – though it does help if you start on the correct foot and go in the right direction!
So off we go forward, back, Monterey turn (touch right toe to right side, on the ball of left foot make a half turn over your right shoulder and step onto your right foot, touch left toe out to the side, step left foot next to right – got that?) OK – Grapevine (step right foot to side, step left foot behind right, step right foot to side), complicated turn (forget that one just face the right way and carry on). Nobody minded my inability to keep in time and if I couldn’t keep up I just did my own thing until the simpler movements came round again.
It helped to stand in the middle of the group as I could copy Joan and a couple of others at the front and then when we turned I could copy someone else. It also helped standing next to Sandra, as she would give directions, Monterey right (what was that again? oh yes touch right toe to right side……too late onto the next steps).
It was a super informal evening and Sandra would welcome more people to the group so do give her a ring and have fun.