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A Nonfiction Column
By Willie Elliott

All About Line Dancing


Maggy Halliday's book Line Dancing (Teach Yourself) purports to tell all that is needed to successfully line dance. Oh, the book is good, don't get me wrong. But as my line dance teacher is fond of saying, "All you need to know is how to count to eight and know your left from your right." Yes, I hear a lot of, "Willie, your other left foot" and "listen to the beat."


Halliday can give all the photos and instructions she wants, but I have trouble with what I call "the wall." As you probably know, the steps are repeated at two or four walls. The first wall I look a little like Fred Astaire. Well, that is not true, but I do reasonably well. I can count the eight counts and keep on the right foot with the best of them, but then we turn and there is "the wall." In my mind this wall ranks right up there with the Berlin Wall.


When I see that new wall, my mind becomes a jumble and my feet plop all over the place—always in the wrong place at the wrong time. Do people laugh? Of course people laugh. I was used to doing things with proficiency and now I'm in the Redbirds (or whatever birds it was we labeled kids who weren't academic stars). I could have quit, but our group ranges from ages 88 to 56 so how could I quit and say I couldn't keep up with people of that age. I also liked the classy costumes that we came up with. I may not have danced well, but boy, I looked good in those outfits. So I did what any self-respecting low achiever would do—I cheated. As long as I could see another dancer, I was fine. But there would always come a time when no other dancer was in sight because of the wall.. Then I panicked.


I would go to bed at night and go over the steps a thousand times in my head—never missing a beat, and the next day would go fine until I hit "the wall." So then I took measures into my own hands. I quit worrying about it and did the best I could and tried to have fun. When I took the pressure off, the dances became easier and I had fun. If people laughed, I figured they needed a laugh.


I learned a little lesson (although a little late). I remembered telling students how easy it was to write a coherent paragraph or interesting theme. You and I know that is not true. It is not easy. The lesson was a little humbling. I can just hear those kids, "Now, know it all, shows us how easy line dancing is."

So if you want to learn a lot of line dances, get the book. It will help, but don't put too much pressure on yourself and watch out for "that wall" and above all have fun. Don't look for me on Dancing with the Stars. I won't be there.

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