Stepping in Line

"Could we run through this one more time? I can do it slow but when I followed everyone else, I lost it."

"We should probably do it again while it's fresh in our minds."

"We'll get it."

"Five, six, sev-en, eight..."

The song "I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself Letter" starts to play and nine women who are evenly spaced on the wooden dance floor at Sharkey's begin to dance to Earl Mussett's instruction.

Cowboy boots are the most popular foot gear but leather shoes, tennis shoes and even sandals are also worn.

The steps made on the dance floor got louder with the confidence gained after the second run-through of the song. Clapping punctuates the routine.

"That was better," was said as the group takes a water break.

"Studies show that a lot of activities help prevent the onset of Alzheimer's - doing crosswords, playing an instrument, reading," said Mussett. "But nothing makes as big a difference as dancing.

"It's good to learn new things," he said, pointing to his head.

Mussett said they danced to 18 songs in the last session. Class size averages about a dozen women, although men also are invited to line dancing class.

"We do a combination of learned routines and new ones," he said. "It's fun and it's exercise. I have three rules - have fun, do no harm and learn as many steps as possible."

"I love to dance and you don't need a partner to line dance," said Anita Mahoney. "And Earl is patient."

Grace Lindsay, who described herself as a "Teflon brain," said it's easy to get started.

"As a beginner, everyone is so helpful. You don't feel embarrassed," she said.

Gardnerville resident Louise Stiles, who has been line dancing for 11 years, lost 65 pounds in 10 months with a combination of Weight Watchers and dancing.

"I love the music and dancing to the beat," said Stiles. "You use your whole body and it feels good."

Jean Gravenhorst, 81, started line dancing 12 years ago at the senior center in Carson City.

"We call ourselves, 'Earl's Girls,'" Gravenhorst said. "I like the socializing aspect and doing the senior follies at the community center."

The line dancers said they enjoy using their skills at weddings and other family gatherings. One woman said they were having so much fun dancing to a band in the Carson Valley Inn lounge, one of the entertainers came off the stage to join them.

The group dances at Merrill Gardens and performs a Christmas show every year where they all dress in blue jeans, white shirts and red bandanas.

"Now a reel," Mussett said as the break ends and upbeat Latin music begins. "Side together, chassé, cross, rock and kick, ball change."

"That's the end?" a student said when the music stopped.

"That's the end," said Mussett.

"We did it!"

The line dancing class meets 9:30-11:30 a.m. Fridays at Sharkey's. For information, call Earl Mussett at 782-6603.

Break out:

Earl's rules:

1. Have fun.

2. Do no harm.

3. Learn as many steps as possible.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment