Ever been to a wedding where everyone gleefully pours on to the dance floor for some line dancing, and you have two left feet with no clue about the steps?
Don’t feel alone or that you will miss out on all the fun. Line dancing is a great form of exercise, especially for the lower body, but good instruction is the key to mastering the steps.
The Lewes Senior Activity Center offers a full-blown progression of line dancing taught by instructor Marian Fetherolf. She covers three levels – Beginner, Advanced beginner and Intermediate. She floats around the room cheering on her students with a heavy dose of enthusiasm that seems to be contagious. She was in education for 36 years as a teacher for 20 years and administration for 16 years as a vice principal and principal, so she knows how to instruct and provide positive feedback.
“Many people sign up for line dancing because it is only one of the movement activities that you can dance at weddings, bars, cruises, etc.” Fetherolf says. “It is also a fun exercise which can enhance your social, emotional, physical, and mental abilities. It enhances stamina, improves coordination, increases cardiovascular health and brain memory. Some claim it is a good remedy for dementia, Alzheimer’s, and depression.
Fetherolf uses a combination of music genres in her programs such as Rhythm and Blues, Jazz, Hip Hop, Rock, and Country. Tunes range from Aaron Watson’s “These Old Boots Have Roots” to Cindy Lauper’s “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.” It is fun indeed for the (mostly) women in the class who are learning steps such as the Rocking Chair and The Lindsey. Everyone has a smile on their face after each dance segment.
Many popular line dances are set to country music, but the first line dances are believed to have originated from folk-dancing like Contra Dancing. It is a form of American folk dance where dancers form two parallel lines and perform a sequence of dance movements with different partners down the length of the line.
During the 1980s and 1990s, line dances were being created for popular country songs such as Billy Ray Cyrus’ 1992 hit “Achy Breaky Heart.” In the 1990s “the Macarena” became a popular line dance set to pop music
Gwen Moriarty is convinced that line dancing helps her pickleball game by improving her agility. Remembering the dance steps helps improve the memory, she says. She has been taking Feetherolf’s line dancing classes for about 1.5 years. Janet Ripley of Milton is a former dancer and has been doing line dancing for about six years. She agrees with Moriarty about the effect line dancing can have on the brain.
Another regular, Jena How, helps out as an assistant. She says it is possible to accrue and average of 5,000 steps in a single line dance session. That is half of the daily recommendation from the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness and Nutrition. Line dancing also burns calories. This calculator from SparkPeople provides an average based on weight.
A one-hour session at the Lewes Center costs $6. The Intermediate class starts at 9:30 am, Advanced Beginner class is at 10:45 am and the Beginner class starts at 12 noon. The Mulligan Point lessons cost $10.
Fetherolf is also teaching line dancing at the Mulligan’s Point Golf Course near Georgetown.
By Mary Jo Tarallo, Guest Journalist
Mary Jo Tarallo spent much of her career in public relations with various non-profits and spent 40 years involved with the ski industry as a journalist, public relations director for a national trade association and as executive director of the Learn to Ski and Snowboard initiative. Prior to her ski industry involvement she worked for the Maryland International Center in Baltimore and United Way of Central Maryland. She won a Gold Award for TV programming for a United Way simulcast that starred Oprah Winfrey. She has been cited for her work by numerous organizations. Mary Jo grew up in Baltimore, attended the University of Maryland and Towson University, lived in Washington, DC for 21 years and has been a full time resident of Rehoboth Beach and Milton since May 2019.