You, too, can do the sleazy slide

September 06, 1994|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,Sun Staff Writer

They danced the cowgirl hustle, the sleazy slide and the boot-scoot boogie in the middle of Carrolltown Center last week.

Country-western dance lessons are coming to Carrolltowne Elementary School this month, one of several programs to be sponsored by Freedom Area Recreation Council, and the dancers were drumming up interest in their group.

Anybody can learn the foot-stomping, yee-hawing genre, which is gaining in popularity everywhere, said Brenda Dorenfeld-Peters, a member of the National Teachers Association of Country Western Dance.

"If you explain the footwork correctly, anyone who can walk and count to eight can get it," she said. "It's all basic tempo."

The Eldersburg resident knows some 400 basic tempos, which she said she can match to most music. She estimates that she has about 1,600 more to learn.

Ms. Dorenfeld-Peters, dressed in a fringed red dress and short black boots, gave shoppers at the Eldersburg center a preview of her course last week.

She and about 20 of her students stepped through several dances and encouraged onlookers to join them.

"Get in the middle and watch the others," the teacher said.

"This is like the Beltway, where the outside lanes go the fastest."

If beginners stay in the middle of the floor, wherever they turn they see people who know the dances well, she said.

"It looks so pretty and graceful," said Peggy Grant, who watched from the sidelines.

Lucy Thomas, a braver soul, said she would love to dance and joined the line.

"I don't know what I'm getting into," she said, but she stayed on the floor for several dances.

Bob "Slim" Carr said he prefers ballroom dancing, where he "can hold onto somebody."

Before the 90-minute demonstration ended, Ms. Dorenfeld-Peters invited him to two-step arm in arm. The pair gracefully circled the line dancers and dipped a time or two.

"I finally got my dance in," said Mr. Carr, breathless by that time.

Chris Lamb, 11, shies away from partners but really goes for line steps.

After only three weeks of lessons, he has mastered several popular dances.

Karen Hill, 20, watched in admiration as her parents, Barb and Ed Phelps, made all the right moves.

"This is the first time I have ever seen them dance in public," she said. "They look great."

The couple wore matching shirts and hats and never missed a beat. They are two-year veterans of the country dance circuit, said Mr. Phelps, and "having a blast."

"He learned all the dances first," Ms. Phelps said. "I had to join in."

The Phelps were wearing Western attire, the most popular dancing duds, although not required. Boots help if another dancer steps on your toes, but any leather-soled shoes will do.

Country-western is becoming increasingly popular, said Laura Gabbard.

"It's fun, great exercise and you get to meet people," she said. "I dance three times a week."

Ms. Dorenfeld-Peters compared the dance routines to low-impact aerobics.

"Once you learn the dances, you don't even realize you are exercising," she said. "And, you can talk while you dance."

From aerobics and dancing to drama and tae kwon do karate, the council offers recreational outlets for all ages. Several programs will be in the Community Room at Carrolltown Center.

"The mall wants to make every effort to become the center of the community," said Matthew Lattin, general manager. "Several summer sessions began here and will continue in the fall."

Those of all ages and ability levels are welcome at dance class. The weekly 90-minute class begins at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 20. Cost is $12 per four-week session or $4 per class.

Information: 549-6980.

@4 Information on other Freedom programs: 549-6296.

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