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Heel, toe, dosey doe

Line dancing keeps seniors active

Posted: July 5, 2009 9:27 p.m.
Updated: July 6, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Seniors line up during a Tuesday morning line dancing class at the Santa Clarita Senior Center in Newhall. The group meets at 9:30 a.m. every Tuesday and Thursday.

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Every Tuesday, Flo White of Valencia gets in line. She’s not the only one.

Over a dozen students shuffle, lockstep, and vine to country tunes at The Santa Clarita Senior Center’s line dancing classes, held every Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. in the lunchroom of their Newhall location. 

The class is for moderate level dancers; beginning and advanced classes are also available.

White, clad in jeans and black leather cowboy boots, has been coming to the center to line dance for more than eight years. 

The classes bring much more than the latest moves to her life.

“You meet some really nice gals in here,” White said.  “You get exercise and friendship.”

According to instructor Helen Walker, line dancers also get a mental workout.

“It’s good for the memory,” Walker said. “You’re making pathways in your brain as you dance. It’s set patterns, not freestyle, so you have to remember them. It’s also great weight-bearing exercise.”

Studies show that physical activity which includes weight-bearing exercise can help prevent osteoporosis, which older adults are at a greater risk for.

This type of exercise can also reduce the chances of falling and injuries caused by those falls.

A retired school teacher, Walker has been dancing for more than 30 years and takes advanced line dancing classes to stay up on the latest steps.

She’s part of a dance group called “Heel, Toe & Go,” which takes line dancing performances to senior centers across Southern California.

At the senior center, Walker likes to mix in Latin and ballroom dance moves, such as the cha cha, the rumba, and the waltz, to keep her students on their toes.

“It’s more fun that just plain exercise,” Walker said.

While this particular class was all-female, the class is open to men and dancers of all ages. Each class costs $3.

Marilyn Rainey of Valencia has been line dancing at the senior center for four years.

The genre was a natural for the country music fan, who has taken “The Electric Slide” and some of the other moves she’s learned to dance floors at weddings and parties.

“It’s so much fun and great for cardio and general exercise,” Rainey said. 

For Circle of Life caregiver Noemi Pulsingay, line dancing offers a chance to get her four elderly wards out for a change of scenery and a chance to socialize.

While they enjoy the proceedings, Pulsingay can take a bit of a break from her 24/7 occupation.

The activity reminds her of folk dancing in her native Philippines, which she enjoyed before coming over to the United States.

“Line dancing is both exercise and a hobby for me,” Pulsingay said. “I think my wards like it, too.”

For more information on line dancing classes at the Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center, call (661) 259-9444 or visit www.scvsc.org.

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