Lifestyle: Line dancing is making a big comeback
According to local instructors and students, line dancing is back in the limelight.
“Line dance is a popular genre performed by a group of people and is a choreographed dance that consists of repeated steps,” reports countrydancingtonight.com. “Line dance has its roots in cultural folk dance, but … developed into its modern form in the United States in the 1970s and 1980s. Line dancing became incredibly popular and commonplace in the 1990s. Line dancing…was primarily danced to country music, but now embraces many musical genres.”
According to dancepoise.com, the genre’s earlier popularity coincided with the “settlement movement” that brought dance forms to America from “different countries and regions of the world” in the late 19th century. The site says favorite line dances that emerged from the movement are Collier’s Daughter, Electric Slide, Boot Scootin’ Boogie, Cotton-Eyed Joe, and Tush Push.
Afton resident and trainer Mindy Mills has been doing line dancing for 30 years.
Originally I was going to a wedding and I wanted to learn how to make a Breaky Heart, Achy said. So I went to a line dance class in Susquehanna, Pennsylvania and had been dancing for three months, finally learned Achy, Breaky, then there was a lady at the Afton River Club and I went to her class. While he was on vacation he asked me if I would take over his class and I had no idea what I was doing but I did and that teacher never came back so I inherited his class.
Long-time dancer and Mount Upton resident Angela Beers said learning to dance brings personal and professional satisfaction.
“As a kid, I danced competitively in all different genres for about 13 years, but as I got older I realized I couldn’t really do that anymore,” she said. I found a group of line dancers outside of the Binghamton area called Crew Country Line Dancers, and I started from there and stuck with it. I enjoyed it and knew that one day I would want to be able to teach my own classes.
Beers said she has been doing line dancing for about eight years and teaching for two years.
Sources said the revival they saw followed fluctuations in the genre’s popularity.
Mills, 68, said there is too much class everywhere. I started teaching gymnasium at Deposit school and Masonville school and eventually finished in Sydney. I’m currently in the American Legion in Sydney on Wednesday nights and Sydney’s Community Cultural Center asked me a while ago if I could teach there, so I decided to go there.
“There was a time, nearly 20 years ago, when we thought line dancing was dying,” he continued. Then suddenly many classes opened and it was great. I was going to the workshops to learn more and there was more dance to teach my classes. It was like an explosion and it started climbing again. I thought I was ready to quit teaching and decided that some of the American Legion had been with me for 30 years, and I was bringing all these new people to class on that Wednesday night that had never danced, and I wanted to. To spend more time teaching them the basic steps, I said OK, I’ll start the beginner class. I couldn’t believe I was going to do this, but I’m so glad I did.
I can definitely say it’s gaining (in popularity) because there are different types of line dance and different styles, 27-year-old Beers said. There is the old way and the new way, and I usually teach according to what my lessons are. My Tuesday class likes a lot of old songs so I stick with old style dances but my Thursday is more high energy and they watch videos on TikTok and say “Hey, can we do these dances?” And of course I say, that’s why I learn and teach dances.
And I feel it will become more and more popular, he continued. The pandemic has really taken people out. and more people there are lots of local country and classical singers around here and it’s nice to collaborate with them. At The Pines (Covered Bridge Gardens in Unadilla), they have music, line dancing, and incoming two-steppers, so I think it will grow from here.
Mills and Beers said that with the growing interest, the scope of line dancing is expanding.
Beers said that everyone thinks of line dancing differently. I think of it as a group of people dancing and moving in rows, but everything from a small string of numbers to a large cluster, they all dance together and I feel more like a way to express yourself. Whatever my client is, I try to appeal to him.
There are people everywhere who choreograph these dances and they post them on their website or on YouTube and I get them from there, Mills said. Some of them are very well known and new dances are choreographed every day all over the world. So somewhere everyone is doing the same dance.
Mills said line dancing is particularly accessible.
“You can really dance without a partner, which is the number one thing,” he said. Everyone learning the steps and doing them all at the same time to a certain musical accompaniment. Most of the dances are an eight-point beat and some are waltzes. We do one wall, two walls, sometimes four exercises, but we’re going to do a lot of practice with eight steps on each wall, then we’ll put all these steps together because when you do the first 32, you have to start all over again. When I feel comfortable, I turn up the music and usually start with something slow. Anyone can do it; The best place for a brand new dancer to come and learn is my Thursday evening class because that’s where you’ll learn the basics. There have been so many people who have never danced that they may grope and stumble, but they laugh, they clap, and they finally come down the stairs.
“It’s a great way to exercise,” Mills continued. People love exercise, they want to socialize and go out. Especially in my classes, they formed a lot of good friends and I made a lot of friends because of this. When I learned how to dance and I think these people are the same way you came to forget when you had a bad day. When they come to dance class, they focus on the stairs and what I’m saying, and they do it for two hours, and I think that’s a great relief for a lot of people. This is so much fun; People love it and become addicted to it. I.
I would say that Beers, TikTok has a huge influence on younger groups and even the older generation, and social media in general, but the older generation uses it more as an exercise. Maybe they don’t go to the gym or can’t do high-impact workouts, and they like the idea of constantly moving for two hours without high impact.
“There are many different ways to move,” he continued. My philosophy is I teach the name paper and the way the choreographer originally created the dance and if I see people struggling, I change it; I read room
The students also said they appreciated the line dancing offers.
“It’s just friends and great exercise and I enjoy dancing,” said Tina Fritts, a 30-year-old student at Mills and a resident of Chenango Bridge. You make great friendships; It was a dancing family. Your loyalty stays with a certain group and you do other things besides that which makes it extra special. (Mills) had a fixed group; some go and some stay, but the core people are pretty much the same.
Afton resident Robin Felldin has also been dancing with Mills for nearly 30 years.
“It was a beginner line dance class in Afton, that’s how it all started,” she said. Mindys personality (which kept me going), exercise and everyone here. It’s just a group of people and we love each other. Nice group. We thought it would go out at different times but then it would come back stronger. I think Mindy is helping with this because she continues to create new groups for beginners.
Melinda Beers, Beer’s mother and student, said that this sense of friendship and her daughter’s interest attracted her too.
I’ve always followed her dance, so when she saw this opportunity, I said I’m the game. “And it’s great to be able to do that live,” he said. It’s a really great experience and getting out of the house, exercising and meeting new people. I help him and that’s the challenge of learning something new every week.
Mills and Beers said the adaptability of the genre encourages a diverse demographic of dancers.
They come all the way from Mills, Binghamton, Harpursville, Afton, Sydney, Bainbridge and Unadilla to Oneonta and I even have a group from Norwich, Mills said. Most of the people in both my classes are seniors and that wasn’t the case in the past but we’ve all grown old together. But I still get new, young people and they try and love and try to keep up with the old ones. So, it’s a mix. My 15 year old son came and loved it but one of my top students is 80 years old and my son is a good dancer? So, it applies to all ages.
I also teach at Roadhouse 23 in Oneonta, so I’m anywhere from Oneonta to the Sydney-Unadilla area, Beers said. A fortnightly class at The Pines and a Thursday class at Roadhouse is a weekly class. It’s definitely mostly women, but we do have some men participating. Honestly, a mix of people from their 20s to their 60s or 70s depending on class. Sometimes people bring their kids and I try to make them kid-friendly. I have a child and I want other people to come and have fun with their children.
Beers said that pleasure is what keeps him coming back.
“Seeing people learning a dance and getting excited,” he said. When they (the students) learn their happy dance or want a more difficult dance, they do it and you can see the joy on their faces. This makes me happy because I feel that I have achieved their goal, learning a dance, and they think they can do it too and they will come back and tell their friends about it and laugh and smile.
Mills classes are held every Wednesday at the Sydney American Legion from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. and Thursdays at the Sydney Community Culture Center from 5:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Find Line Dancing with Mindy (Winans) Mills on Facebook for more information.
Find “Dancing with Ang” on Facebook or visit aaronsateam.com/dancingwithang to find out the dates and times of Beers’ classes.